Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a special day, whether your mother is nearby, across the country, or across the ocean. It’s a time to reach out to her, hear her voice, hold her hand. It’s a time to renew that special bond. Even though my mother is gone many years, memories of her are not. And, strangely, those mother/daughter bones of contention that arose over the years are no longer important.

What is important are the special activities that will fill the hours: having a family gathering, taking your mom to brunch, placing a cross-country or Skype call, visiting a gravesite with her favorite flowers in hand.

In the book All Ways A Woman, a collaboration I did as a writer with artist Lynn Centeno, are several poems that ring true for Mother’s Day. I’d like to share them with you. The first is called “My Mother’s Hat.” An aside: Billy Collins was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He suggests using an object as a key to unlocking a door to a larger, deeper idea. This was indeed the case with my mother’s hat.

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A simple hat woven of straw …

My Mother’s Hat

My mother’s hat is woven of straw,
a worn and weathered circle
of complicated love.

Its presence
recalls her special gifts to me.
Choices, rainbowed with dreams.

My mother’s hat shields from summer’s sun,
a wide-brimmed haven
of sacrifice and constancy.

Wearing it
brings her memory close.
I hear her words, feel her near me.

by Carol Mann

***

Motherhood offers life’s greatest joys, challenges, and rewards. As a mother, you form a special bond with each child. The following words are for you.

Mother and daughter share a special moment …

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In My Arms – Watercolor by Lynn Centeno

In My Arms

My precious little girl,
your every breath
takes mine away.

Forever I remember the first time
I held you, the moment we became
mother and daughter.

Know always I’m here,
your soft cloud, your safe
haven in life.

I savor your sweet
innocence, the beating
of your heart against mine.

“Mommy,” I hear as you snuggle close.

by Carol Mann

***

A young boy’s first experiences with art …

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White Paper – Watercolor by Lynn Centeno

White Paper

blue paint dollops and green
spread
slick
on paper
pristine

fingers slide across the sleekness
swish backward
wiggle forward
whirl in circles
twist and twirl

ocean waves curl
become rugged peaks
meld to a monster’s face
blossom into
a giant rayed sun

a smile lights my little boy’s face
smudges
of finger paint
decorate
his cheek, his nose

by Carol Mann

Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day! 

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Hope your day is fabulous!

Posted in Creativity, Finding Ideas: The Creative Process, Inspiration, Looking for Inspiration, poetry, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Book Marketing Adventure Continues

The book marketing adventure continues with All Ways A Woman. Lynn and I learn something new with each Reading and Conversation we do, either about ourselves or about our material. We’ve learned how different audiences can be and how to adjust. Some audiences are reserved, others are highly participatory. Physical environments are different, too. We’ve learned to adjust quickly, whatever we encounter. Our events culminate with book sales at a signing table.

We continue making our calls to different venues. It’s a process. Some brick and mortar locations need corporate approval, others managerial approval. When we contact organizations, we must wait for their board meetings to convene for our information to be presented and then we do follow-ups. Sometimes, an event that looks promising isn’t and one that isn’t becomes terrific. And sometimes, we’re not really sure what we’re getting into. A recent event exceeded all expectations.

Gallery Event

The gallery managers at Cambria Gallery located on El Paseo in Palm Desert where we recently held an evening event definitely know how to host a happening. When we arrived, the tables and chairs were set up for the audience, surfaces cleared for our books and marketing materials, and areas ready for serving appetizers and wine, catered by Il Corso Restaurant.

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Cambria Gallery located on El Paseo in Palm Desert

Guests arrived, were offered appetizers and wine, found their seats, and the event was underway. At each seat the managers had placed a brochure about the gallery and an individual favor – two Oreos covered in white chocolate. Sinful. One of the managers spoke briefly about the gallery and then introduced us.

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Cambria cookies for each guest

Lynn and I did our Reading and Conversation to an interested and receptive audience. We followed with a Q & A session. How do we get our ideas? How did our collaboration begin? How did our process work in putting together the book? A good evening. Obviously, the arrangement was beneficial for both the gallery and us.

First Lady Notes

I wrote previously that we had sent letters and books to all living first ladies. Here’s another note we’ve received – from former first lady Rosalyn Carter.

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Rosalynn Carter, wife of the 39th President

Reviews

We encourage reviews. In fact, if you’ve read All Ways A Woman, and would like to take a moment to post a review on our Amazon page at amazon.com, that would be great. By clicking on the author’s name, you’ll find more information and a book trailer to enjoy. Please also visit our Goodreads page at goodreads.com.

Upcoming Events

Two girlfriend events are coming up on May 2 and 4. They will be the finale for the season. We’re combining a Reading and Conversation with an opportunity to see and sample Arbonne products – a line of vegan skin care, make-up, and healthy diet choices. Add snacks and wine for a fun evening.

Visit our All Ways A Woman Facebook page for details.

The Season

We live in the southern California desert so our “season” of high activity winds down as summer knocks on the door. I welcome the chance to return to the writing and editing of my short story collection. Also during this down time, Lynn and I will continue to organize next season’s activities for All Ways A Woman.

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Introduction to All Ways A Woman

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A Celebration

 

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Marketing Your Book

We’ve been busy marketing All Ways A Woman and no one ever said marketing was easy. If you ever watch the TV show Shark Tank, shark Mark Cuban always asks the entrepreneurs who want the sharks to invest if they have gone out and knocked on doors or hit the pavement so to speak to market their product. Well, Mr. Cuban, we have.

Coming up is a Reading and Conversation at a local gallery. My associate Lynn made a “cold call” and talked to the gallery manager. After a few back and forth telephone calls, voila!, we had a date. We’ve sent this invitation:

Carol and Lynn
cordially invite you and a friend to a
Reading and Conversation
with their book

Thursday, April 20, 6 pm
at
Cambria Gallery
73520 El Paseo, Palm Desert

 Give a keepsake book for the special women in your life for
Mother’s Day, Graduation, Birthday, Anniversary 

 Wine and Lite Bites catered by Il Corso Restaurant
We look forward to seeing you!

***

As a result of a Reading and Conversation we did at the La Quinta Museum on March 8 (also originating from a cold call), we were able to place All Ways A Woman in the museum store.

Bright pink stands out on the shelf.

***

One of the fun things we did was to send a book and letter to noteworthy women such as the past and present First Ladies. This is the letter:

We, author Carol Mann and artist Lynn Centeno, have created the enclosed book All Ways A Woman as a tribute to and celebration of women. Through original poetry and art we tell the story of a woman’s journey … her thoughts, her loves, and her many roles in life.

All Ways A Woman is for the woman who, in a quiet moment, reflects on her life and who knows she is in all ways a woman, always. This is her story, her poetry, her art, her inspiration.

In the introduction, we invite the reader to …

Come
walk with us
wonder
explore

For together
we grow
we discover
we become

The final piece, “The Gift of the Gathering,” honors our lives as women, the universal bonds we share, and the strength and support we give each other.

We send you this book in recognition of the richness of the life you live daily and the inspiration you give women as they make their own life stories. We hope you enjoy.

One of the thoughtful responses we received is from former first lady Barbara Bush:

A lovely note …

***

These are just some of the things we’ve been doing. On my desk right now is a list of calls I’m working on as follow-ups to some cold calls we made to several local shops and hotels. My associate Lynn has the same. Our next step is to line up presentations with local groups who are now planning their programs for the coming year.

Do we get discouraged or annoyed sometimes? You betcha. Have we run into some “interesting” situations? You betcha. But authors know marketing takes energy, time, and creativity. We just keep working our ideas, connections, and cold calls.

So, fellow authors, we wish you success with your book in your own marketing adventure! Work your ideas. Share your successes. Share your frustrations. We hear ya!

Keep making those calls!

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The Next Writing Project

I’m anxious to start on my next writing project. The book of original poetry and art called All Ways A Woman, done in collaboration with artist Lynn Centeno, is launched and we are well into marketing it at various venues. Our schedule of appearances for April is full. I’ve been sharing the journey with you. It’s exciting and fun. But now I’m ready to dig into another project.

It’s a collection of short stories. I’ve been pecking away at the work and now I want to move it into the main stream of my attention. Some of the stories are new which, I discover, I’m not really finished with yet. I’m still writing. Others, older work, I want to fine tune, parts of which I’m seeing with new eyes, especially the endings. And, interestingly, there is one I don’t want to touch at all. It’s called “The First of the Season” and the story represents the first time I saw myself in print, my first story accepted by an editor of a literary magazine.

Looking for Carol Mann in the Table of Contents

I can still feel the thrill of picking up the literary journal, excitedly running my finger through the Table of Contents, finding my name, running my finger over the type several times. I know how hard I worked, how insecure I felt, how I wanted to paint pictures and scenes and invite the reader to feel what the character Tommy was feeling.

Opening paragraph from my first published story

There’s another story called “Parallel Worlds” which will receive a new title and a new heartbeat. I’m currently reading a novel called Georgia by Dawn Tripp, about the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. On page 78 Tripp describes her imaginings of O’Keeffe returning to a work she’d done previously:

I go into the back room and pull out sketches I made last summer of the natural bridge I visited once in Virginia. I remember passing through it, the smell of the greenery, the cool gray of the rock, and how, when I looked back, the orange dusk struck its edges.

I leave the drawings on the table and begin a new sketch. Lines over the paper, shadow by shadow, details stripped – not the bridge as it was but as I felt it blow through me in that moment I turned and looked back, the moss ripped with light.

I’d lost something in the writing, trying to bring the story to a conclusion. I’d lost what had “blown through me” as I created the story of a man called Ray and his relationship with his father. I lost the feelings, stripped them away, instead of writing Ray’s truth. I’m excited to work with this story.

There’s another which is overly dramatic, based on a newspaper article I read. It needs to be swept of its artifice. It especially needs more craft. It’s a story in which less would be more. The title is Baggage and if after working on it, I’m still not liking the story, it will be cut.

Then there’s the problem of the whole collection needing a title. Right now I’m using an interim title of one of the stories, Not Even Gloria, but I know that title will not hold. I need to see more of what the collection has to say in total. At the moment, I only have this statement:

for those of us everywhere who do what we must

riverSedge literary journal was the first to publish one of my stories – “The First of the Season.”

At the Desert Writers Expo Book Festival on March 30, I talked with Heidi Simmons, writer for the Coachella Valley publication called CV Weekly, and lover of short stories. (I interviewed her for my blog a few years ago when I discovered a series she did on the short story. She was kind enough also to interview Lynn and me about our book All Ways A Woman while at the Expo.) Her articles and reviews have introduced me to writers and short stories I haven’t read before. I like her enthusiasm for the genre.

Keeping up with events in the Coachella Valley.

So the bones are set for my next project. The short story writer has fewer words and less space to grab readers and their thoughts and emotions, to make them care. I have work to do.

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Writing and Taxes

I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to leave the writing groove. I savor the days I wake up and write, do some book promo, catch up with happenings on Facebook, and write. Oh, I said that. So what’s interfering with this tranquil state of mind? Taxes.

First came the property taxes. Did you ever notice how fast that system can work? I mailed my property tax check and like two days later I looked at my bank account and the tax collector had already cashed said check. Then again, I mailed another check in payment of a bill from my town of La Quinta to Cathedral City, a distance of about 20 miles, and it took 20 days to navigate the system. Okay. To be fair, it was during the Christmas season. But still. The property tax collector has “Mail Pull.”

To the Rescue!

Now it’s income tax. Such dreary words. And such dreary documents. All those W Something or Other Forms from the government. Then I have to ‘fess up to income sources, last year’s property tax bill, DMV car license info, mortgage interest if any, medical expenses, charitable contributions. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam. I feel tired. I know, I know, we need money to run the country. Is everyone paying their fair share? That’s another post. All I can say at the moment is, “Where’s Errol Flynn when you need him?”

But today I’m starting the process. The dining room table is cleared, ready to receive “the file.” During the year, anything to do with taxes gets dropped in “the file.” Wish “the file” was more orderly. But at least everything is all in one place. Or that’s the theory.

It’s not going to be nearly as much fun as writing. Perhaps similar to watching paint dry. Where will be the discovery, the aha! moment, the depth of feeling, the weaving of the plot, the unmasking of a character? That’s exciting. It’s not all that exciting to see where your money has gone. Might even get depressing.

But onward.

In about an hour I am going to sit down and begin. Writers always say that part of the process of writing is to sit your self in a chair and begin. Well, I’ll apply that same principle to doing the taxes. I may have to add a rope and tie myself there. I’ll be easily distracted.

First is the sorting. Said papers go into designated piles by categories. I made my own form  that covers the stuff I need. When I have everything sorted, then comes the deep diving into each stack to extract the numbers and write them on my tax check-list.

I have an appointment with the tax preparer. That’s the date that’s really motivating me. I have to have everything ready for them by the 21st of March. But, you know, other things are going on. It’s called life. Much more fun than taxes.

The process begins.

Okay, I’m walking toward the table. I’m sitting down. I’m pulling the chair into position. But wait. I need a good pen and a sharp pencil with an eraser. I need a calculator. I’ll use the one on my phone. I get up again. Find what I need. Should I have a fresh cup of coffee? Might as well. And then onward to do the deed, secretly hoping the telephone will ring or I’ll hear the ping of a text or the ring of the doorbell. I listen.

Nothing. But the sound of taxes.

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The Book Journey Continues

What have I learned in the All Ways a Woman book journey? I’ve learned that after publication, a different journey begins.

The transition becomes a study in contrasts. From private to public. From tapping into one form of creativity for the creation of the book to another form of creativity for marketing the book. From working alone in an office or studio to becoming a “public person” and a business person.

Version 2

At a Reading

Creating the book’s text in the silence of my office or during a quiet walk was both hard work and a joy. Co-creating through emails and meetings with artist Lynn Centeno was synergetic and exciting. I found myself working with an intense desire to find the words, dig to the meaning, search out the truth, tap into the feelings of the poetry and the art.

But …

when the book was finished, we became a needy writer and a needy artist. What did we need?

We needed sales, we needed venues.

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Busy signing.

Boom! We were into marketing and promotion. Gone were the silent, contemplative, and solitary cocooned creatives working in an office or studio. Now we were public people, we were giving talks, we were giving readings and presentations. We were writing on our Facebook pages, sending letters, making phone calls, hitting the pavement. Trial and Error were close friends. We worked on venues. We looked for places to give voice to our book such as magazines and organizations. For example, I became a guest blogger on the National League of American Pen Women website, a 120 year old organization with members the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Georgia O’Keefe, and Maya Angelou. NLAPW.org

We needed input. We asked our readers to share with us their favorite pieces, their favorite images. We found that readers like to do so. (Do so if you feel the inclination!) We find the input touching and real.

One reader writes:

I like “Quartet.” I guess I’ve been married long enough now to fully appreciate the seasons of our relationship, especially the comfort of how constant it is … As to the paintings … I like the last painting, “The Gift of the Gathering.” I like the feel that my women friends are always there, sometimes in the background, but there for me to reach out to when needed.

Another writes:

I read the passages and think about my life experiences in each one. I find I am relating to all of the passage, or wishing I could relate to it more. But the depth that is drawn out in each piece brings it home. I love “A Woman’s Hands”, “Sunlit Tulips”, and “The Moment.” At this point I find myself thinking a lot about these.

And another:

My husband’s  favorites were “Voices” and “Raggedy Ann.” I loved “A Walk With Her Father” and of course “Life Song.” Hard to pick only one or two as I love them all!!!

And another:

Love it! Amazingly, the quality cover and paper even feels good to the touch. Perfect hostess gift! I found the pictures and poems to be relaxing.

Readers post reviews. (Do so if you feel the inclination!) On Amazon:

This is truly a book of beauty, inspiration, and memories. The art work is fabulous and the poetry- exquisite. I’m generally not one to read poetry, but I love Ms. Mann’s descriptions- simple, and some provocative. I now have All Ways A Woman displayed on my coffee table. I do hope these two women do another book. It’s a joy.

Readers send us pictures:

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From Arizona

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From Palm Springs, CA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Ojai, CA

We found we had readers in Sweden, Viet Nam, Hawaii, Florida, Arizona, Minnesota, New York, and our home state of California. If you have the book and you are in another state or country not listed, let us know your state or place in the world. This just in. We are happy to add Calgary, Alberta, Canada to our reader list.

We needed to know how we were doing. We tracked our sales on Amazon, opened a bank account, and assessed our inventory.

We needed The Square, that unique little attachment you add to your phone or iPad that allows you to take credit card transactions. I bought the Square at my local Verizon store, downloaded the app, and followed the prompts.

We needed things like bags, and pens with ink that won’t bleed through paper but dries quickly when doing a signing. (Sharpie – fine point.) We needed signs to tell the cost of the book and that we take credit cards. We found we needed an event helper to be with us at the signing table. A signing table can be a busy place with two authors, credit cards, signings, coin of the realm, checks, questions, conversation, spelling a buyer’s name correctly when signing.

We needed chairs. We can stand or sit on a sofa or sit on a wooden stool such as used in a reader’s theatre setting (not too comfortable.) We’ve done it. But some of the venues are larger and the presentations a little longer. We bought two director’s chairs, the high ones.

We needed energy. We made the decision to make this book journey creative and fun. To find and keep the joy of pursuing our passion. Energy comes from within but also comes from the people in the room with us at a presentation. The synergy builds as they get used to us, to our voices, to our story, and decide to go on a woman’s journey with us.

What have I learned? I’ve learned to dig into my writing, my words, the meaning, the truth. I’ve learned about myself by working with a co-creator, by risking, and allowing myself to be vulnerable. It can be a gamble giving your words to others, but mostly it can be and is fulfilling. The book journey is worth every step. And by making that journey with a talented collaborator, you add another level of richness.

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Publication to Promotion – Now What?!

We were excited beyond words when our book All Ways a Woman debuted on January 31, 2017. To see it come to fruition after all the writing, painting, compiling, designing, and editing was truly an adrenaline rush for my fellow creative Lynn Centeno and me. But then the big question emerged, “Now what?” Well, that’s when the marketing and promotion began, big time. We had done some promotion, pre-publication, but now that we had the actual book, we went into high gear.

What were some of the things we did and are doing?

  1. The book was live on Amazon on January 31, 2017.
  2. We did a mail chimp eblast to announce the launch.
  3. We had a poster, bookmarks, and business cards printed.
  4. We launched an All Ways a Woman Facebook page.
  5. We set up an All Ways a Woman Goodreads page.
  6. We hit the streets, so to speak, to line up venues.
  7. We visited local brick and mortar stores, boutiques, and spas to see about placing our book on their shelves.
  8. We sought reviews.
  9. We asked readers to tell us their thoughts, favorite poems, and watercolors.
  10. We each have an online presence where the book is publicized.

And now we are working on our venues. Below are events that have occurred and are upcoming.

  1. January 19 through April 30, 2017 – Public
    TELL ME A STORY: WOMEN IN THE ARTS, an exhibit at the La Quinta Museum. Included in the exhibit are “The Gift of the Gathering,” a watercolor by artist Lynn Centeno, and an excerpt from the poem of the same name by author Carol Mann. Both pieces can be found in the book All Ways a Woman.

2.  January 25, 2017 – Private
Outdoor Resorts English Tea in Indio.

3.  February 14, 2017 – Private
Valentine’s Day All Ways a Woman “Coffee with Girlfriends” in La Quinta.

Preparing the signing table for the Coffee with Girlfriends event.

Preparing the signing table for the “Coffee with Girlfriends” event.

4.  February 25, 2017 – Private
All Ways a Woman Champagne Reception in Palm Desert.

5. March 1, 2017 – Private
All Ways a Woman Book Group Coffee

6.  March 8, 2017 – Public
All Ways a Woman reading and presentation at 2 pm at the La Quinta Museum located at 77885 Avenida Montezuma in La Quinta.

The event will be in the Mural Room.

The event will be in the Mural Room.

7.  March 12, 2017 – Public
All Ways a Woman reading at KOFFI in Rancho Mirage from 2 to 4 pm. Koffi is located at 71-380, Highway 111.

8.  March 30, 2017 – Public
Desert Book Expo at Rancho Mirage Library from 3 to 6 pm. The event is sponsored by the Palm Springs Writers Guild and the Rancho Mirage Library.

9.  April 7, 2017 – Public
El Paseo Art Walk – First Friday of the month. We will be at Cambria Gallery (next to Il Corso Restaurant) from 4 to 7 pm. Book/Artwork/Jewelry on display.

10. April 20, 2017 – Public
Presentation and Reading at Cambria Gallery (next to Il Corso Restaurant) from 6 to 8 pm.

And the poster fits anywhere.

And the poster seems to fit anywhere.

We still have much to do and more venues to tap, ideas to be brought to reality. We also like to hear from readers. A reader in Minnesota chose as her favorite poems “A Woman’s Hands,” “Sunlit Tulips,” and “The Moment.” She went on to give reasons for her choices. Based on that input, I incorporated “Sunlit Tulips” and “The Moment” into a recent reading.

Version 3

Happy Collaborators

One of the biggest joys of this book is the people we meet along the way. Book lovers, art lovers, readers, women from all walks of life. We feel their life experiences, sense their life songs as we share a reading, have a conversation. It is a pleasure to be all ways a woman, always.

Posted in Books, Creativity, Inspiration, poetry, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments