Cover Artists

Cover Artwork

I love the art of my covers. I have been blessed with four artists who have provided not only their artwork, but inspiration for my writing.

I will go backwards in time, starting with my latest book.

My classmate Clarence Lum was preparing to show his art at Fandangles' in Flushing, Michigan.  He had several pieces standing on a chair in his living room.  I was looking through them when Prada Girl jumped out at me.  It was so compelling.  A story started to form and the images just kept popping into my head.  I had been trying to find a new storyline for a few months.  That night, I wrote the first three or four chapters.  It is a story from my heart and the inspiration from his art is why this story has been told. I purchased a digital copy for my cover.

A great Saginaw Photagrapher, Mike Sonnenberg, has been posting his pictures on Facebook for sometime.  I love looking at his photos.  They are from all over Michigan.  And if you know anything about me, you know I love Michigan.  One day he posted a picture of the Tawas Lighthouse.  It was so amazing.  We have camped in Tawas many times, so when I saw this picture I thought I would research it a bit.  Hah, I found a few references to it being haunted by a little girl.  A story began to form and I contacted Mike to purchase a digital copy to use for the cover.  His website is: Lost in Michigan

When I was looking for covers for the Holiday Series, my daughter suggested someone she knew, Hope Sweigart.  At that time she was a college student.  I met with her at Barnes and Noble in the coffee shop and I told her the storyline of the Holiday Series.  A few weeks later she had the cover photos I would use.  I loved them so much that a year later I asked her to work on the Four Season Friends cover with me.  I purchased the digital photos for the covers.

When I was writing my first book, Webber House, I didn't know what I was going to do. The four books in the series were well-known landmarks in Saginaw. I called my brother-in-law and thankfully he agreed to do the sketches.

The Webber House was torn down in the 60's, but their was an historical picture on the Saginaw Public Library site.  Bertie's Bakery building is still standing, but it doesn't look anything like a bakery anymore.  Dan took my description and transformed that old building.  Andersen was sketched from an old postcard.  His favorite was Daniel's Den.  Dan and his brothers went to several concerts at Daniel's Den and he really liked drawing that one.  I purchased the artwork to use on these covers.

I am so excited - my latest eBook is now available on Amazon.

This has been a wonderful experience getting to know these characters.  They are sweet, mean, loving, upsetting, caring, joyful, and filled with love.

Annie and Aubrey move to Saginaw to live with Riley and Brianna.
It takes some time to get to know each other and even longer to become a family.

Aubrey is on the cover of the the book below.

Click on the book to go to my Author's Page on Amazon
where you may purchase the book and see where she's going!

Ding Dong Merrily on High

 In the book New Beginnings, 
Riley and Annie sing at 
Christmas Eve Mass.

The David Haas arrangement of 
Ding Dong Merrily on High 
is their first choice.

As they left church that evening, many parishioners mentioned how beautiful the song was and how well they sang it. Annie smiled and quoted her own choir director, "You can't go wrong with a David Haas song!"

Click picture above 
to go to website to purchase.

Click video below to listen

It's Here!

Working hard on the last edit of New Beginnings. Thirteen chapters done today.

I swear I am putting commas back in that one of the other editors had me take out.

After I finish all these, my last step is to read it out loud. Then watch out Amazon!

The New Amadore Apartments

When one of the characters in the book, New Beginnings, is looking for an apartment, this grey building in the background is where she will move.  It is called the New Amadore Apartments.  When it was first built it was for the very rich citizens of Saginaw.  Parquet floors, high ceilings, large windows, even a magnificent entrance.

In 1976 my Mom moved into that corner apartment on the first floor.  Although it was no longer for the rich, it was a lovely apartment.  The wood floors were still in perfect shape (until a certain 18 month old took a pen to the bedroom floor, thankfully easily covered by a throw rug!) She had beautiful drapes custom made to fit the tall windows - after she moved out of the apartment I used those drapes and curtains for over 30 years and they were still stylish and in good shape! They were from a store on the corner of Genesee and Michigan called A.A. Meyers.

Just past the apartment building, across the street, is St. Mary Cathedral where our main characters, Riley and Annie, go to school.



Tomorrow or Friday!!!

I love this story, 
I can't wait to share it with you.


One person in New Beginnings
was very happy
to get this Jeopardy
question correct!

Brianna and Max Wedding in New Beginnings

"The guests were pleasantly surprised to see the bride and groom waiting to welcome them on the front steps of the Cathedral."  

"Todd had come for several weekends in a row to work on the flower beds in the garden overlooking Lake Huron."

"When they arrived in Tawas, they found the backyard of the Forney cottage had been transformed into a beautiful garden reception venue. Brianna, Aubrey, Riley and Annie had spent hours going to thrift stores buying beautiful old china plates to have on the tables.  They all were an assortment of sizes and colors.  The tables were beautiful.  Strung above the tables were the lines with hanging strings filled with flowers and three dimensional decorations."

The evening began to get dark and the LED Falling Raindrop lights set the mood.

New Beginnings

The painting is called, Prada Girl.  The artist is Clarence Lum, a Saginaw resident. When I saw his painting, my heart started to pound, my mind began to race, a story began to tumble out of my heart.

Clarence and I went to school together at St. Mary Cathedral.  When he moved back to Saginaw a few years ago I had the pleasure of getting to know him again.  I couldn't stop thinking about this picture after I saw it in his house.  It was in a pile of pictures waiting to be taken to a gallery showing at Fandangles' in Flushing, Michigan.

I am happy to announce that I have purchased the rights to use his painting as the cover of my next book, "New Beginnings." 

It is a story of a mother and her daughter, Aubrey and Annie, moving to Saginaw from Texas.  They are invited to live with a cousin and her daughter, Brianna and Riley.  The story will follow where they have been and where they are headed after many "New Beginnings."  As a matter of fact, Annie is tired of "New Beginnings" she just wants life to stay the same for awhile.

This eBook will be published sometime in 2016.  I am thankful for the inspiration that Clarence has provided.  To see more of his paintings click this link.

To see all of my published eBooks click the link below:

Mary Ellen's Author Page

Art and About Exhibit in Saginaw Michigan

Annie and Riley go to the exhibits of the Art and About in Saginaw.  They road their bikes all over town to see lifesized statues - they were on exhibit in Saginaw the summer of 2016.  
A few of them are pictured below the map.

Pink Cake Box

Whenever I need inspiration for a wedding cake I find it at the Pink Cake Box website.

The beach themed cake for 
Max and Brianna 

The beautiful flowered cake for
Sarah and Joseph

The Bell of St. Mary's

In the book, New Beginnings, Mrs. Shea rings the school bell to begin and end the school day. A student rings the bell to begin and end lunch.

Mrs. Shea is not only the school secretary, but in real life she was my mom. When the real St. Mary Cathedral school closed my mom retired. She walked out of school with the school bell.

It is one of my favorite memories.

Draft is done!

The 1st draft of "New Beginnings" is done! Yeah!

I printed it out for one more read through before my editor gets it.

I am so happy.

Thyme for Flowers

A new business has been created for the book, "New Beginnings."

Todd and his friend Henry are opening a flower and organic herb shop in Saginaw.  It is right across from Bertie's Bakery on the point created by Hoyt and Cherry Streets.  I have been wanting to bring Sarah and Joseph into the book and this is how it will happen.  Stay tuned........

Spatz Bakery

The Spatz brothers came to Frankenmuth in 1871 from Germany. A few years later they moved to Saginaw and opened their bakery.  The recipe has never changed.  Spatz bread is light and airy and absolutely the best bread sold.

If someone moves away from Saginaw - they ALWAYS ask family to bring some with them when they visit.  It makes the best crutons and delicious toast.  I think I have written this bread into every single book.

Audra Francis Home in Saginaw, Michigan

This is the Audra Francis home in Saginaw, Michigan.  She was the first woman to be elected to City Council in 1953 serving for twelve years.  She was the first female chair of the Saginaw County Commission.

One of my classmates, Sue Siers, moved into the home with her family while we were attending St. Mary Cathedral.  It is on Thompson Street right next to the Cathedral.  I used to love going over to her house.  The wallpaper had been handpainted, the staircase was magnificent, their was an impressive circular opening at the top of the stairs that looked down into the foyer.

The Forney's, characters in the book New Beginnings, live in the Audra Francis home.  I love bringing an historic home alive in a book written about today.  Thankfully, unlike the Webber House from my first book, this house is still standing.  A former Mayor of the City of Saginaw, Wilmer Ham-McZee, currently resides there.

My book, New Beginnings, will be published in 2016. To read reviews of my ten other books about families living in Saginaw, Michigan, click here!


Oh how I miss Jacobson's.  Of course the store made it into my books. We loved walking through the store after school. We only went once a week because we were worried we would get kicked out. We never ever bought anything. 

When my Mom died my best friend came from Chicago for the funeral. She could only stay a few hours before driving back. She told me after the luncheon that we would honor my Mom with a shopping trip to Jacobson's.  I found a set of placemats I had seen in Ireland on the trip I took with my Mom and Patsy and Fran.  I told Janet they were more than I wanted to spend. She said, "If you don't buy these today when will you? Never..."

She found a vest that was beautiful and expensive. She laughed & told me to go get the placemats. We both splurged on ourselves that day. At first I felt funny shopping on the afternoon of my Mom's funeral, but I have thought about that trip so many times over the years. It's been 21 years and my friend also has died. I treasure her spontaneity and her friendly urging to buy those items that day. It was one of the best days ever and I know it truly was a great way to honor my Mom.

Great Gifts

Give the gift of friendship this Christmas 

My eBooks are filled with friendship and love.  Whether the reader is in middle school or a great grandparent, these books are meant to be shared.  Everyone will enjoy the stories and characters.

I weave the past of Saginaw into the present time.  Whether the characters are going to Tony's on Weadock or Andersen Pool, young and old alike will enjoy the best of Saginaw.

Click the picture

The Forney Home in "New Beginnings"

Greg Hatfield, a new friend I met on Facebook, took the perfect picture of the home that is featured in the book I am writing. He graciously gave permission to post it here on my blog and on my Pinterest board.

In the book Mr. and Mrs. Forney live in the home. It is right next to St. Mary Cathedral. (You can see the church in the background on the right.)

In real life the Siers family lived in the house. I visited my friend, Sue when we were growing up.

From New Beginnings......

"Aubrey was awestruck when she parked her car in front of the Forney home.  It was a Georgian Revival house with Ionic columns.  There were magnificent porches on the main level and second floor at the front of the home.  Actually she thought about how their last apartment in Texas could have fit on 1/10th of the front porch of this house!  She walked up the wide steps to ring the doorbell.  She sort of expected a butler to open the door, but Mrs. Forney opened it herself.
The inside was as spectacular as the outside. Aubrey's eyes were drawn to the double wide staircase in front of her that led to the second floor.  There was a grand circular opening between the first and second floor.  Aubrey exclaimed, "Please tell me you put a Christmas tree right here!"
Mrs. Forney laughed, "Of course not, it would take a whole lumberman's camp to bring in a tree that big and the cost to light it and decorate it would feed the homeless for a whole year!"

Cathedral Inspiration

 This is the church I grew up at in Saginaw, Michigan.  The stained glass windows are so beautiful.  These are my two favorite windows.

In "New Beginnings" Brianna sits in the quiet, empty Cathedral and contemplates the window of the woman at the well with Jesus.
"Brianna stopped by church to say a prayer.  She sat in the pew in the beautiful Cathedral looking at the stained glass windows.  The sun coming through made them glisten like jewels. When she looked over at the one with the woman at the well she wondered at how Jesus would talk to her if he walked into church right now.  Would he be proud at how she had loved her husband Joseph to the moon and back?  Would he be proud that she worked very hard raising Riley?  Would he be proud she had helped Aubrey and Annie start a new life?  Would he be disappointed because she just couldn't make up her mind about Max?"  

New Review

So pleased that a review of my eBook, Webber House, is on the Catholic Fiction website.

Life Changing Moments

In the book, New Beginnings, Miss Robinson talks about this Steve Jobs quote during a counseling session.  She points to a picture on the wall.  However, the quote is actually longer than the text on the picture.

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

Miss Robinson explained each day was a chance to make changes in our lives.  Mr. Jobs died before he was done making enormous technological changes that would affect their lives.  Much like when Riley's father died, way before he was done making enormous changes to Riley's life.  But, and this was very important, Riley now had the chance to make her own enormous changes in her life. 

Makes M.E. Happy

When I saw this on my blog this morning I jumped for joy!
Six out of Seven people entered my blog to find Bishop Ken's homilies.
It makes my heart fill with hope that these people read his wise words.

New Beginnings - Chapter One Preview

New Beginnings

an eBook to be published on Amazon in 2016

Chapter 1 preview

Sister Barb sat at her desk looking over the scholarship applications for the coming school year. All the other recipients had been chosen in the spring, but an anonymous donor just provided funding for one additional student. Each scholarship provided four full years of high school. Mrs. Conklin, the school secretary, heard a heavy sigh coming from the principal's office.

 She called through the door, "Sr. Barb, what are you stressing about in there?"

The principal slowly pushed away from the desk and walked to the doorway separating the two offices.

In a concerned voice she answered, "There are so many people with limited incomes.  I wish we could double the number of scholarships. I know I should be happy with one extra, but there are so many children who could do so well here if given the opportunity."

As if on cue the phone rang. She listened as Mrs. Conklin patiently explained to yet another mother about the expired application deadline. Sr. Barb threw her arms into the air as she returned to her desk. She picked up another form from her desk and began reading. She became so engrossed in the answer to the first question, “Why do you want your child to attend St. Mary Cathedral?” everything else faded into the background.

We moved to Saginaw a few months ago from Houston, Texas. My cousin, whom I had lived with for a few years when I was young, called to tell me there was a job waiting for me to clean homes with her if I wanted it. She also offered to have us live with her and her daughter.

My mother died when I was in high school and my father turned into a bitter man.  He spent most of his time in a bar and he eventually left me with my aunt and her family.  I stayed  for a few years and never heard from my father again.  When I turned 17 I met a man and thought I was in love.  I moved out of my aunt’s home.

I never married Annie's father. I was just 18 when I told him I was pregnant. His reaction was to hit me across the mouth. I couldn't believe I had ever wanted to be with him and for sure knew I could never trust him with my baby. That night I walked out of his front door and never looked back. It was a new beginning. 

When my cousin called, Annie and I had been struggling to make ends meet. My job ended when the clothing factory closed the previous year. Even before that the economy had been so poor that I could only find temporary jobs and we moved every year or so. I have been taking college classes to become a teacher through all these years.  However, it seems that every new college I attend takes only some of my college credits.

This opportunity to have Annie's tuition paid for four years and to be able to stay in one high school would be a miracle. The second miracle would be to stay in one place to get my degree.

After talking with my cousin, Annie and I prayed, asking God for a way to get from Texas to Michigan. The following Sunday a couple sat behind us at church. I didn't know them, so I introduced my daughter and myself and welcomed them to our church. They told us they were visiting from Saginaw. Annie and I looked at each other in astonishment as I hopefully inquired, "Saginaw, Texas or Saginaw, Michigan?" The woman smiled as she proclaimed, "Michigan and proud of it."

The music began and I prayed harder than ever. Was this couple an answer to our prayers? What could I possibly say to them? Was all of this just a coincidence or a sign from God? I am ashamed to say I didn't hear one thing during that Mass. All I could do was pray and beg our good Lord for guidance. When the last word of the last song was sung I turned around and asked the woman if I could speak to her. She told me they were going to breakfast and asked us to join them. I must have shown my unease because of my lack of finances. When I tried to refuse she immediately told me we were to be their guests because we made them feel so welcomed at our church.

We talked for two hours at the restaurant.  Mr. and Mrs. Forney were so interested when I told them what I had been praying for at Mass this morning.  I explained that my cousin had asked us to move to Saginaw to help with her cleaning business.  Before I finished the sentence Mrs. Forney asked, “Is your cousin Brianna?”

Annie and I just looked at each other with amazement.  When I nodded my head she laughed and said, “This is such a small world.  Brianna belongs to our church.”

Mr. Forney added, “Brianna asked for my advice when she was starting her business.  She still cleans the offices at my company.”

God certainly had answered my prayers, but more than that, God had sent the Forneys towards our path before I even knew I needed an answer to my prayers. It was a moment of clarity.  It seemed to me that God was pleased with this new beginning.

By the end of breakfast the Forneys insisted we should travel to Michigan with them. I still cannot believe we packed our few belongings and left the next morning with total strangers. However, looking back on it, indeed they were a gift from God.

Annie and I now live with my cousin, Brianna Steffan and her daughter, Riley. It would mean the world to us if Riley and Annie could attend the same school.

Sr. Barb set the papers on her desk. Looking out her office window, she thought about the Steffan family. Brianna and Riley had been through a terrible tragedy. A construction accident had caused the death of Brianna's husband a few years ago. After the accident, she started a small cleaning business with some insurance money. Last year Brianna confided to Sr. Barb that she was lonely and raising Riley on her own was exceedingly difficult. Sr. Barb knew Riley could be a handful; she had almost been expelled from 8th grade last year.

Sr. Barb put the application in the accepted basket. She hoped Annie would make a huge impression on Riley. Maybe it would be a turning point in all of their lives.

Fall Fun - New Beginnings

A day filled with brilliant leaves of orange, yellow, gold and red
Spending the weekend at the Fordney's raking leaves, drinking cider
The work and play that happens automatically when all friends get together.
Little did they know what was about to happen.