Promoting Your Book

The Friends of the College of the Desert Library hosted an Author Reception for me at the historic Shadow Mountain Golf Club in Palm Desert, California. For me, this meant talking about my short story collection Creek Songs. My time constraint was 15 to 20 minutes. If you find yourself needing to prepare a book talk, below are the steps I took to get ready.

Shadow Mountain Golf Club

First – What did I include in my talk about the short story?

*How the genre became of interest to me

*Where story ideas come from

*My writing style/voice

*Advantages of reading short stories

*Short story length

*Choosing a title for a short story collection

*Awards for Creek Songs 

*A three-minute reading – e.g., an opening scene of a story

Second – I practiced the presentation

*To keep on track, I wrote up my script and put it in a notebook.

*I went over the talk until I “knew” it. (At night works for me.)

*On my Mac, I used Photo Booth and videoed myself as I practiced in front of the computer. You can also use a cell phone with a halo light to video yourself. Or have someone video you with a cell phone.

*I wanted it kept tight and professional: fun parts, serious parts, informative, and on script.

*I timed myself to fit the time constraints given.

*I tried to vary my pace, my tone.

*I had a mic. If there’s no mic, project. If there’s a hand mic, keep it close to your mouth. If the mic is anchored, keep close to it. Make sure the mic is operational and suits the acoustics of the venue.

*I kept eye contact with my audience, dropping my gaze to the script as needed, then looking up. 

*Avoid reading your presentation. “Eye sweep” the audience. 

*The more you give your talk, the more your speaking content and style will develop. 

*You’ll discover things you want to include or eliminate.

Third – I timed myself

*“The mind can absorb what the seat can endure.”

*As I practiced, I simply jotted down my starting time and my ending time. (If you’re over, kill some of those babies – as Oscar Wilde said.)

*If parts of your presentation are funny, allow “giggle time” within your overall time.

Fourth – I used my book as a prop

*Eye catching cover – matte finish

*Format of back cover – book blurb, author blurb

*Book inserts – business card, bookmark, how to do a review, any press releases

Fifth – Physical set-up of the room

*In this venue, everything was set-up and ready.

*Know what equipment the organization will furnish.

*Know the equipment you will need to furnish.

*If you are doing a PowerPoint presentation/using visual aids, have everything set up and operational   ahead of time.

Sixth – To garner a following and give more talks

*Maintain a presence on social media.

*Join organizations and network. 

Seventh – Put you and your work out there:

*Enter contests, do Book Festivals and Expos, submit for publication, give book talks


Posted in Authors, Books, fiction writing, International Book Awards, National Indie Excellence Awards, personal essay, Reading, short story | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Newspaper Article about Creek Songs

The local newspaper of the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley area is The Desert Sun. On Sunday, September 18, 2022, Creek Songs and I were honored to be the subject of an article in the Arts and Culture Section, written by reporter Joanne Hardy. Below is the link to the article.

Posted in Books, Books and E-Books, Creativity, e-books, fiction writing, Finding Ideas: The Creative Process, Inspiration, International Book Awards, Looking for Inspiration, National Indie Excellence Awards, personal essay, Reading, short story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Good News

I’m happy to announce that Creek Songs has been named a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist in the “Fiction: Short Story” category.

Posted in Books, fiction writing, National Indie Excellence Awards, Reading, short story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Book Awards

I’m happy and honored and humbled to announce that my short story collection Creek Songs has been recognized as a Finalist in the “Fiction: Short Story” category of the 2022 International Book Awards. There were thousands of entries from all over the world for the various categories. Exciting times!

Wishing congratulations to winner, Linda Feyder, and to the other Finalists in the short story category!

Fiction: Short Story

All’s Fair and Other California Stories by Linda Feyder
She Writes Press

Creek Songs by Carol Mann
AquaZebra Book Publishing

Jinwar and Other Stories by Alex Poppe
Cune Press

Pigeon Soup & Other Stories by Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli
Inanna Publications and Education, Inc.

The Cupid Chronicles by Dennis Copelan
Apricot Springs Publishing

The Sleep of Apples: Stories by Ami Sands Brodoff
Inanna Publications

Whatever Happens, Probably Will: Stories by John W. MacIltroy
Short Story America

(Finalists are in alphabetical order, not by merit.)

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists in all the categories.

Posted in Authors, Books, fiction writing, International Book Awards, Reading, short story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“A Brief Interruption” Goes Live

The Palm Springs Writers Guild hosted its Member Appreciation event recently featuring readings, books for sale, food, and fun. Mellow jazz played in the background as members and guests mingled, browsed the book offerings, and noshed on self-serve goodies and drinks. After a welcome by the Guild’s president, a board member emceed the afternoon, creatively organized with readings, Q&A, and breaks for food and more mingling.

Eleven authors read – from children’s stories to poetry to excerpts from novels, short stories, and memoirs; the gamut of genre possibilities. The webmaster videoed the event.

In this video excerpt, I’m reading the opening scene of “A Brief Interruption,” one of the short stories in Creek Songs. If you have the book, the story’s on page 197. I lived in the Los Feliz district where the story takes place. I loved the area’s diversity; its people, foods, cultures, and languages. The district also had its problems . . . with petty crime and, sadly, major crime that alarmed the nation.

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Writing about Art

A painting can inspire a writer to paint with words. This “word painting” could be a poem, a piece of flash fiction, a short story, or perhaps even a novella or novel. A painting by artist Marlis Gray brought about this piece of flash fiction of approximately 350 words.

Chopin’s Conversation with a Harp

Chopin enters his music salon, mulling a motif. He strolls to his beloved grand. He deigns to play no other instrument/neither string nor woodwind nor brass nor other percussion. Only the piano and only his master crafted Pleyel grand. It responds to his touch, his emotions, his musical poesy. 

With a note progression settling in his mind, he walks by the golden harp in place for the evening’s salon and sits before the piano keyboard. As he prepares to settle his fingers upon the keys, a female voice breaks the silence. 

“Maestro Chopin, please play me. One of your creations would be so beautiful coming from my strings.”

Chopin looks about, sees no one, and resumes his intent. 

“Oh, Maestro Chopin, please play me.”

“Who is speaking?” he asks. “I have no time for foolishness.” 

Curious, he walks about the room to see from where this woman’s voice emanates. But no one lurks behind the arches or colonnades. Chopin coughs, then coughs again. He wonders, Is this yet another hallucination? Have I taken too much laudanum to gain comfort from my coughing disease? 

“It is I speaking, the golden harp.”

“How can that be so?” Chopin, mystified, eases toward the harp. He runs his palm along its crown, down to its shoulder. He notes the tuning pins, examines the soundboard, sees the placement of the pedal. He touches the strings.

“Although I know you play no other instrument,” the harp pleads, “please try me.”

Bemused, Chopin pushes the piano bench into position by the harp, sits, tilts the body of the harp between his legs and rests its shoulder on his.

“This is all very intriguing,” he says, “but how can I play a harp? I don’t know how. Nor do I wish to learn. The piano emotes under my touch. I am the piano’s poet.”

“Ease your fingers onto my strings. I will do the rest.”

Chopin does so. His fingers begin to move. At first startled, he realizes he is playing his yet unwritten composition. The harp sings his newest etude. He is enraptured.

Posted in Creativity, fiction writing, Finding Ideas: The Creative Process, flash fiction, Inspiration, Looking for Inspiration, Reading, short story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Writing About a Piece of Art

The hummingbird in this painting by artist JoAnn Fallstone becomes a metaphor for the writing of a piece of prose poetry. Art can inspire words onto paper, adding another layer of meaning to the story the painting already portrays.

The Poet Within

by Carol Mann

A Prose Poem

My inner poet is an exquisite hummingbird,

darting from flower to flower, from sip to sip,

savoring at long last the nectar of a solitary bloom.

She lingers, swoops away, returns, ready to play

with a poetic line. But the words flit and quiver,

fluttering amid scribbles and erasures. Over time,

phrases emerge, shiny and luminescent, to reveal a

white rose’s perfumed scent, the aroma of fresh

lemons, the forlorn oboe of Peter and the Wolf,

a lover’s touch. She flies, seeking multi-hued buds

of perception, to discover flowers of truth and beauty.

Painting by JoAnn Fallstone
Posted in Creativity, Finding Ideas: The Creative Process, Inspiration, Looking for Inspiration, poetry, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creek Songs

Creek Songs, my short story collection available on Amazon Books, will soon be available on Kindle. (I love writing short stories, bringing a character’s moment in time to fruition or . . . maybe not.) Short stories are great reads for a moment of relaxation and/or escape, are time friendly, and mood friendly. Others think so, too! Comments are coming in and are always appreciated. Here’s a review posted on the Creek Songs Amazon page:

Each and every story in Carol Mann’s debut collection is at once delightful and profound, showing the deft hand of a writer at the top of her craft. Some of these stories explore loss or regret, many are brightened with humor, and all are generous with a deep understanding of the human spirit. The 26 narratives contained in this volume are mostly fiction, while several could be described as essays or memoir. The closing entries have the wistful feel of introspective autobiography, particularly the story that shares its title with the book, “Creek Songs,” a tour de force in which the course of the author’s life is shaped by remembrances of a creek flowing past her childhood home.

If you’ve enjoyed Creek Songs, I’m a happy author. Thank you. I’d enjoy knowing your favorite story or favorite character. (Or reading your comments on the book’s Amazon page.)

I’m working on my next book, a novel, tentatively titled The Spence Women. I’m planning on the completion of the book and the end of summer to coincide!

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Short Story Settings

Choosing a short story setting seems to occur in two ways. Sometimes the choice is conscious and sometimes it’s not.

For example, there may be a setting an author likes and simply knows that one day they will write a story and have it happen in that location. Case in point: I did intern teaching at an elementary school in Niagara Falls, New York. I saw the Falls every day. When I became interested in writing, I knew one of the stories I’d write would occur there.

The area fascinated me – the lore, the legends, the mist, the water’s roar. That story became “Ferelli’s Fall” and is in my newly released short story collection Creek Songs. Across from the American Falls (in the foreground) is the city of Niagara Falls, Canada. A climactic scene in the story takes place just north of that city.

Sometimes, though, a setting evolves organically from the needs of the characters. The latter is true for the short story “Behind the Triple K.” The tamarisk trees growing beside Interstate 10 and a span of railroad tracks in California’s Coachella Valley become a place of sanctuary . . . and reckoning for the characters. The characters themselves led me there.

Another way a setting is chosen is by an event, domestic or international. A story idea became very real to me as did the young protagonist. I could see the characters and feel the plot. I knew they were in a war situation. The idea morphed to WWII France and became the story titled “The First of the Season.”

What’s exciting is that a story may be set anywhere, limited only by the author’s imagination. By using the senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch) and such items as weather and time of day, the author can bring that setting to life, allowing the reader to “be there” and enjoy the story more fully.

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My Short Story Collection is here!

I hope you like to read short stories. If you don’t, let me offer a few reasons to try them out. First, my short story collection Creek Songs is live on! More on point, short stories are user friendly, time friendly, and mood friendly.

User Friendly. Reading a short story collection is like shopping at Trader Joe’s. You can read the stories in order, similar to going up and down the aisles. Or you can wander around the pages, similar to strolling about the store to check out the flowers, then the What’s New Section, and then going to the dairy section to buy milk (which is the reason you came to the store.)

Time Friendly. Short stories vary in length, possibly as long as 15,000 words or as few words as six or less. (Here is an example of a six word story from Margaret Atwood: Longed for him. Got him. Shit.) My collection has one longer story called “Ferrelli’s Fall.” The others are in the 1500 to 3500 word range. A short story offers a nice bedtime read.

Mood Friendly. Do you want mystery, suspense, family, love, tension? Let the stories take you on a wild ride or allow you to savor a gentle moment. Neil Gaiman writes: A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple of thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart.

And so, here it is . . . Creek Songs. The stories follow a moment in the lives of flawed, everyday characters dealing with life and the quirks of chance, luck and fate. Settings range from Palm Springs to Niagara Falls to WWII France. The characters are young, old, and in-between. If you enjoy your experience, feel free to leave a comment on Goodreads or Amazon. Reviews are always appreciated. As songwriter Carl Perkins notes, Without the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song. To me, that’s a perfect way to explain the ebb and flow of the human experience.

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