Tag Archives: Louisiana

Can We Make Her Younger?

Mama (l.) and Aunt Delores outside the old house in Grand Prairie in 2011

Mama (l.) and Aunt Delores outside the old house in Grand Prairie in 2011

When I set out to write a novel from the point of view of a 50-year-old woman, I expected a little bit of trouble. Not so much with the writing, mind you. I’ve written from the point of view of a woman numerous times. And when I finished writing “Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears,” I was pleased with the results, in particular the main character Katie-Lee Fontenot (when I wasn’t hating myself and the book and writing in general).

But when it comes to getting a book published, the writer’s opinion on his own writing isn’t exactly relevant, especially if said writer hasn’t been anywhere near a best-seller list. I knew this. I knew there’d be some worrying about a guy’s name at the bottom of a book that can be seen as, depending on your definitions of the genres, Southern women’s lit, commercial women’s fiction or even the much-denigrated but extremely lucrative chick lit.

When it comes to selling my books I’m somewhere between a pragmatist and a shameless pimp. If someone had asked me to drop my first name and go with K. Wheaton — or hell, Liz Wheaton (remember that?!) — I would have considered it. If someone suggested I have an arm-wrestling match with Jennifer Weiner, I’d definitely do it.

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Waltzing Through Louisiana

B&NBatonRouge2Last week, I was down in Louisiana for a couple of readings/signings for my latest novel, Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears. Firstly, I want to offer my condolences to those people who didn’t show up. Because surely your failure to show up was due to a death in the family. I’m quite positive that after I traveled across the entire country and after you promised to show up and yet you didn’t, it wasn’t because you simply were tired or forgot (especially after my 1,653 reminders) or didn’t feel like it. So again, I’m sorry for your loss.

Instead of a sympathy card, maybe I can sign my tear-stained pillow cases or pieces of my broken heart and send that to you.

I think I handled that well.

Now, then. I would like to thank Octavia Books in New Orleans — and Veronica in particular — as well as Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge — and Courtney at that store — for hosting me and making both events go swimmingly and putting me at ease.

I still get nervous at these things, often for different reasons. In New Orleans, I was worried that exactly four people would show up — Felicia, Eric, Kelsey and Kelley. And they did. Because they’re the best. But so did other people! Some high school friends I hadn’t seen in forever and even some people I didn’t even know. This was my very first reading ever in New Orleans, so I was pleased with the turnout. Here is a photo of the crowd, taken by me.

ReadingOctaviaCrowd

And here is a photo (taken by Veronica) of me doing god knows what. I’m not one of those people who acts out scenes or talks (a lot) with my hands. My favorite guess, from someone on Facebook: I was doing The Carlton.

ReadingOctaviatheCarlton

In Baton Rouge, where I knew it would be mostly family and friends, I was worried someone would be like, “HEY THIS CHARACTER IS BASED ON ME AND WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?” That didn’t happen. And there were a few high school friends who showed up that I haven’t seen since the Paleozoic era. Could turnout have been better? Yes. But any reading with more than five people is a success — even for famous authors. It should also be pointed out that a) it was the most beautiful weather ever in Louisiana, so people might have been outside b) it’s college football season and c) it was the first day of squirrel-hunting season.

Here’s a photo of Nick and me. I don’t seem to be embarrassing the child. I need to work on that.

ReadingBatonRougeNick

And a photo of Mama and me. (That glowing skin and bright smile I’m sporting is from three days of fried food, including chicken from Willie May’s Scotch House.)

ReadingBatonRougeMom

Daddy and them were there. I can’t even remember if someone took a picture. These things are always a blur. But Daddy’s not on Facebook, so I couldn’t go steal pictures from his profile.

So that’s that. Both of those lovely stores now have signed copies on hand, so go over and buy one. And, if you’re an e-reader sort, the book is actually on e-sale at the moment for the low, low price of $1.99. (I’m not going to make any money off of that, but it’s a good opportunity for you to push it on your friends!)

Boo-day! Also: Lost in Translation — French vs. French

Yall don’t bouder! I know I forgot even more words in my previous two talking funny posts (here and here).

Mais! If yall wanna buy my book, yall could do that, yeah. Just click.

Mais! If yall wanna buy my book, yall could do that, yeah. Just click.

Including, of course, bouder — pronounced boo-day — a word used to this day by Cajuns in all regions and instantly recognizable to even those without a lick of French. Maybe I blocked it out because I heard it so much growing up.

Bouder: to sulk, pout.

I sulked and pouted a lot as a kid. Well, most kids do I guess. The funny thing about the word is that it’s been English-ized. So instead of conjugating it as a French verb, it gets treated as an English one. Bouder, boudering, boudered. Obviously this works better if you spell it phonetically.

He’s boo-daying because I wouldn’t let him have no coffee milk.

She boo-dayed all day long because we ate her pet rabbit.

Speaking of pets:

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After-Action Report: Louisiana Book Fest and ULL Reading

After reading a post this morning by Darrelyn Saloom in which she revealed that she’d signed a book deal (CONGRATS!) — a result of time spent at the 2011 Louisiana Book Festival — it occurred to me I hadn’t written a follow-up post to my time down there trying to pimp out The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival (Yes! It’s still for sale!).

2011 Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge

One reason I didn’t write — aside from laziness — is that I didn’t want to ruin the picture I know you all have of me jet-setting around the country, arriving in limousines and reading to packed rooms. C’mon. I know that’s how you picture these things. And the reality was, my reading/panel with Lou Dischler was attended by a total of maybe 10 people — four of which who were related to me, one of which was Lou’s mom, and another of which was my good friend Jason’s mom. Thank god for moms. At first I blamed this on the fact that we’d been scheduled at 3:30 and stuck out in the hinterlands of the Welcome Center when almost all of the foot traffic was in the State Capitol. But I’d gone to an earlier panel in the State Capitol featuring Roy Blunt and James Wilcox and there were perhaps 20 people in that room. And I’d heard that other readings in the Capitol building were as thin as ours.

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See Ken Read at The Louisiana Book Festival

Do you live in or around Baton Rouge? Yes? What are you doing Saturday, Oct. 29? Not a damn thing, that’s what. Because LSU has a bye-week. So instead of sitting around the house fantasizing about strangling Nick Saban with your bare hands, head on out to the Louisiana Book Festival. I’ll be there! Talking (still) about The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. (I swear to you there are others in the works.)

Specifically, I’ll be joining Lou Dischler, author of the really damn awesome My Only Sunshine, for the following discussion:

Mining Cajun Country for Comedy
2:45 PM – 3:30 PM
Capitol Welcome Center, Glass Room

This will be followed by a book signing from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble tent.

Obviously, it’s not just us. My home-boy Luis Alberto Urrea will be there (sadly, reading at the same time as me). And a couple of my literary heroes as well, James Wilcox (for writing straight-up craziness set in Louisiana) and James Ed Bradley (for showing that an Opelousas boy can get books published).

Schedule and other information can be found here.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!!

What are you doing the following weekend? I’ll tell you what you’re doing. You’re going to be freaking out about the LSU-Alabama game, that’s what. But on the off chance you aren’t, there is a Mini Book Festival at ULL — or as it was called when I went there, USL.

There will be readings Friday and Saturday night at 7:30, as well as a panel on publishing on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Guess what’s got two thumbs and is reading on Saturday night! This guy.

Actual conversation:

Me: I’m reading on Saturday night.
Mom: What?
Me: Saturday.
Mom: What time?
Me: 7:30
Mom: Well I’m not going.
Me: Didn’t think so.

(Hey, lay off. The woman’s read the book 18 times, sat through two readings and is driving all the way to Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Book Festival. That’s plenty)

At any rate, all readings will be held in HL Griffin Hall, Room 315.

FRIDAY readers: Chantel Langlinais, Nate Pritts, Rhonda dean Robison, Wynn Yarbrough
SATURDAY panel on publishing: Nate Pritts, Ken Wheaton, Micah Ballard, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux
SATURDAY readers: Rob Carney, Ken Wheaton, April Fallon, Micah Ballard, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux

So come on out. It’ll be great to see you.

Also: Sorry if I’m not showing enough respect to the UL Ragin Cajun football schedule. Geaux Cajuns!

Gone Fishin’

Greetings from Grand Isle, Louisiana. Down here with Mama and dem for a few days of fishing, sun and tar-ball dodging. What I hadn’t counted on was that Louisiana is turning into some sort of weird desert region. Despite all the worries about flooding from the swollen Mississippi, they haven’t had any damn rain for months. The land is baked and a hot south wind blows constantly.

I’m reading Game of Thrones at the moment, so I’m seeing all weird weather as a sign of prophecy. A sign of something coming. Me!

Take that as you will. But it did start raining yesterday. And again this morning. They’re pop-up showers and the wind hasn’t subsided, but this morning’s storm was so rough it actually stopped us from fishing. But no complaints. The wind keeps it relatively cool and keeps Grand Isle’s legendary mosquitoes away. The company’s good and the food is excellent. The only things I ate yesterday that wasn’t fried: boudin, Twix and a grilled ribeye (over charcoal, like the gods intended) the size of my not inconsiderable head.

FIRE!

Louisiana and Oil: ‘Lax enforcement leads to lax behavior’

“In 2009, Louisiana punished oil companies for fewer than one in 100 spills, the data show,” according to this Bloomberg story. “Fines are measured in thousands of dollars, not millions. They take years to collect and are seldom levied against even repeat spillers. A small gas station operator was penalized for faulty paperwork while the state’s biggest oil producer paid no fines in more than a dozen spills since 2002, according to state records.”

There are complexities, to be sure. Overlapping state and federal agencies will always created more confusing than clarity. And the matter of intention–oil companies don’t PURPOSELY spill their precious gold–comes into play. But the quote says it all: “Lax enforcement leads to lax behavior.” Read the whole thing.

The story was written by Aaron Kuriloff, Charles R. Babcock and Ken Wells, all-around nice guy and author of the Meely LaBauve series, The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous, and Travels With Barley (yes, a book about beer).