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Creole Heritage Celebration

20th Annual Creole Heritage Celebration – Book Signing

To my wonderful readers!

If I missed you at the Folk Festival this year you will have another chance to pick up my newest book, The Dragon’s Whistle, at the 20th Annual Creole Heritage Celebration on September 13, 14, and 15, 2018 at the Friedman Student Union at Northwestern State University. This year’s theme is “Struggles & Persistence – But Still We Rise”.

It also sounds like it is going to be a great program if you have any interest in Louisiana history (and you should have).  Below is the agenda. We will have a table set up in the writer’s room where we will have a number of each of my books. They have a lot of stuff going on that sounds like it will be really interesting.  As a matter of fact, I canceled another appearance so that I could be at this one due to the subject matter.

20th Annual Creole Heritage Celebration

“Struggles & Persistence — But Still We Rise”

September 13, 14, & 15, 2018


1 PM – 6 PM           Meet & Greet, Registration, Entertainment, Prize Bingo


8-9 AM                  Welcome, Registration

9:00-10:15            How the Creole Heritage Center Got Started

10:15-10:30          Break

10:30-11:45          Showcasing Creole Organizations

11:45-1:00            Lunch on your own

1:00-2:15             Amedé Ardoin Project

2:15-2:30            Break

2:30-3:45             What is Creole Music?

6:00-10pm            Banquet, Awards Ceremony, Keynote Speaker- Lt. Gen. Russel L. Homoré with appearances by Melissa Anderson, USA Ambassador Mrs., and Miss Louisiana Holli Conway. The awards ceremony will honor the winners of the annual Creole Peoples Award along with a special recognition.


8:00-8:30             Welcome, Registration

8:30-9:45             Creole Language

9:45-10:00            Break

10:00-11:15          First Cousins film & Creoles of South Louisiana book Discussion

11:15-1:00            Lunch on your own

1:00-2:15             Creole Cooking Demonstration

4:00                     Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church on 5th St. in Natchitoches

7:00                     Creole Lady Sings the Blues: Annette Metoyer and the Guys

The Dragon's Whistle - Book 1 in The Magic Toilet Series

The New Middle Grade Book

Just a sneak peek at the new book cover of my middle grade novel, The Dragon’s Whistle (Book 1 of the Magic Toilet series). It will be available at the Natchitoches-NSU Folklife Festival, that I’ll also be attending and available to sign books, and then afterward autographed copies will be available through this website.

However, there’s so much neat stuff at the festival that I’d Highly recommend you attend. The cost is reasonable and there are bands playing all day, great food available, and inside the air-conditioned coliseum, there are craftsmen offering a lot of different items.

It is absolutely my most favorite event of the year and goes to support the NSU Louisiana Folklife Center, which is dedicated to preserving Louisiana’s unique history and crafts.

Come on out to the Natchitoches-NSU Folklife Festival.  I will be there Saturday, July 21, 2018, from 8:00 am until 5:00 PM.  I will be hosting a narrative on “Family and Folk History: The Best Sources for Stories” from 9:00 AM to 9:45 AM.  Stop by and say hello, eat some great food, and listen to some awesome music.

Lucky Dog in New Orleans, Louisiana.

I Was Wondering When I’d Get this Question…

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m from Louisiana, I lived in NOLA for a while,  and I used to visit NOLA at least once a year. My best friend and I would go down every year for a long weekend of carousing, eating, and to catch a football game.

In No’ Chance, the first book in the Noah Chance Series, the ultimate battle takes place in New Orleans, one of my top three cities in the world. In that battle, one of the “bad guys” is wearing an Atlanta Falcons helmet.

I was recently asked if I chose the Atlanta Falcons at random, because they’re in the same division as the Saints or if there is another reason.

This is one of the few easy questions my readers ask and the answer is, I have been a New Orleans Saints fans for as long as there has been a New Orleans Saints Team. I remember watching parts of games in their first year of playing and then I’ve watched every year since then, even in the paper bag years.

I made one of the bad guys an Atlanta Falcons fan because you can’t be a Saints fan and not dislike the Falcons.  It’s nothing against the city of Atlanta, the Falcons could move somewhere else and I’d still root against them. I don’t shop at Home Depot since learning the owner, Arthur Blanks, also owns Home Depot.  I never liked Deion Sanders and while I can tolerate Julio Jones, I have no doubt his performance would increase if he was with another team.

So, yes, the bad guy was an Atlanta Falcons fan simply because they should never be permitted with the city limits of New Orleans.

I remember on one trip to NOLA where we met up with a contingent of Carolina Panthers fans and had a good time at the game and then afterward.  Of course, that was in the days before Cam Newton but still, overall, the Panthers fans are alright.

So to Falcons fans, I appreciate you buying my books and that shows excellent taste on your part and if you ever want to be a Saints fan you’re welcome to join the ranks.


The Dragon's Whistle - Book 1 in The Magic Toilet Series

Finally Finished – The New Book for Middle Grade readers

I finally finished my new book.

I was hoping to finish it in February but medical and other issues forced me to keep pushing it back. But, in a marathon session when we were in Austin last week, I managed to knock out 20,000 words (and in the process went over my goal by 10,000 words) but the first book in a series for middle-grade readers is finished.  Now on to the final edits, the cover, and printing. This one will likely not be a Kindle book, thus available only in print.

The title is The Dragon’s Whistle and is the first book in the Magic Toilet series.

Basically, the twins, Robert and Anthony, have a toilet in their home which somehow transports them to other times and places. In this first book, an unfortunate accident while cleaning the bathroom lands the twins in Frankia, a place with magicians, knights, and dragons, along with a monster who wants to destroy them all.

I started this book by jotting down a title and a few notes back when my sons were in junior high school, they’ll be 26 next month, and on a whim decided to finish it out. I’m pretty happy overall but writing a book for the middle-grades is harder than I thought it would be.

The book will be officially released at the Natchitoches-NSU Folklife Festival in my hometown of Natchitoches, La., on Saturday, July  21, 2018. Of course, it will be available on this website on that date as well but I’d love to see anyone who’d like to get a book autographed and talk to me about the Natchitoches area.

The Hardest Thing About Being A Writer

To me, there are only two really hard things about being a writer. The first is just staying focused and getting words on paper (actually a computer screen now but you get my point) but, really, when I get in the zone that’s not hard, it’s just getting focused in the first place and not getting distracted. On the ghostwriting, it’s actually easy because I know I have a deadline when the buyer is expecting the work and I’ve always been okay with deadlines.

The second thing, though, is by far the most difficult. It’s not the research, although even with my fictional works I do lots and lots of background work to make sure I’m as accurate as possible. Certainly, I take “creative liberties” but any factual mistakes in my books are usually a deliberate choice instead of a lack of knowledge. Most writers find the research boring but I’ve always loved that part of the work.

The hardest thing about being a full-time writer is the marketing.

I love going to the various shows and meeting people (even though I’m actually a little shy), talking about the books or writing in general, and answering questions. What I hate is the part when you have to try and convince someone to buy my books.

I’ve considered hiring a publicist or an agency, but it’s hard to justify that expense when there are so many fly-by-night organizations. I entered a few contests but what I quickly found was that the judges often wanted you to write your book the way they would have written it instead of judging it as a book you’d written your way. I also made it a practice to pick up some of the books that won the contests and, to be honest, they were often just not that good. A lot of time they were more artsy than my books and some of the others that had been entered and I’d read but simply being “artsy” doesn’t make a book better, just different. I remember one contest where I read a book that had placed lower than mine and it was incredible but it was a horror book and apparently the judge hadn’t been a horror fan.

At the various book fairs and author signings I’ve done I always listen to the pitches from other authors there. Often they use a hard sell on the people who stop by their booths and it appeared to work but that really isn’t me so I’d be uncomfortable with it. I also suspect it leaves at least a little bit of a bad taste in the customer’s mouth and would be bad for repeat business.

Every year at the Louisiana Folklife Festival we see some of the same people come by to visit the booth and talk to us and I have a number of them who buy a new book each year. To me, that’s the most gratifying, knowing that they have read my books in the past and liked them enough to come back and seek me out. I had a couple of requests for the next book in the Junebug series and in the Noah Chance series so I’ve got to finish at least one of those for next year’s event so I don’t disappoint the people expecting them to be ready. That’s my favorite kind of marketing, the one on one, especially when it’s a person who wants to hear the story behind the story, where the book idea came from and any trivia about how it took place.

I’m about to start trying to work more on marketing on and I’d encourage anyone who reads a lot to go to that website and take a look. It is now owned by, but it’s a great place to meet other people and discuss books you’ve read or get people’s input on books you’re thinking about purchasing.

In the meantime, if you are reading this and belong to a book club and need a speaker I’m always available either in person or by Skyping in for a video conference. Those are always lots and lots of fun. I’d be glad to discuss it with you ahead of time and I’ve even prepared some materials for books clubs to use to discuss the various books I’ve written. Of course, I don’t charge for this and can usually schedule it with just a few weeks notice.

If you have any ideas for other ways to market, leave me a comment or send me an email, I’m always happy to hear from readers of my books or my blog.


Already at Work on the Next Books

Well, with the middle-grade book The Magic Toilet completed, it’s time to get back to my other writing projects. As most of you know, I don’t like to give too many details about the next books, but I decided I’d do something different and so I’m going to put little teasers on the website as I go.

As I’ve mentioned before, each of my books has a YouTube playlist which I listen to to get me in the mood for that particular bit of writing. I like to think of the book as a movie in my mind and the playlists serve as the soundtrack.

I’m going to be working hard on two books at once. One of them I started last year and have about 25k words written, so I’ve got another 50,000-75,000 words to go. The other one is the longest project I have, I’ve been working on it for ten years or more (off and on) and I have about 15,000 words completed although, for a change, I know how this one ends.

The first one is in the Weird Western genre.

The second book is a legal thriller and this is one of my favorite songs to get me in the mood to write.  It is an oldie but a goodie:

A Life Experience – Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday and Leaving New Orleans

Some of my earlier posts have been lost over the years (thanks to crappy security at GoDaddy hosting) and this one came to mind because 1) the family is all working on their bucket lists and 2) today is Ash Wednesday.

When I go to book signings and conferences, the most common question I’m asked,  like most writers, is “Where do you get  your ideas?” I always tell people it’s because of something I’ve seen or done somewhere which triggered the initial idea. In No’ Chance, the first book in the Noah Chance series, you’ll notice the heroes of the book end up in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities in the world. The places I talk about in the book are real, and to make it as authentic as possible I even try to get the addresses, directions, number of blocks, etc. all correct.

I lived in New Orleans when I was a kid and so Mardi Gras isn’t a new thing for me. However, several years ago Karren and I were invited to go back with some friends of ours (Thanks Jack and Denise!) .

As long as you don’t get claustrophobic in crowds and understand NOLA culture and people then everybody should do Mardi Gras in New Orleans at least once in their life.  There are a lot of places that celebrate it, Galveston and Jefferson, Tx., New Orleans, LA, Mardi Gras Indians. Look for them on Mardi Gras day or Super Sunday.

Mobile, Al., and Mamou, La. are several cities which come to mind, each with their own twist.

However, the most famous Mardi Gras is in the Crescent City and nobody does it like them. There are several different parades on different days, there are the Mardi Gras Indians in the Zulu Parade, and so many other things it’s impossible to cover them all.

This last time we wrapped up our trip on Fat Tuesday and watched the New Orleans Police come through and “clear the streets” at midnight, a time honored tradition, and left the next day on Ash Wednesday.

While leaving we took a couple of turns to try and avoid some traffic and ended up in the Treme District, the front vehicle following a “street funeral”. While it added a while onto the trip, my wife and I couldn’t miss this and so we watched the procession make its way down the street, with the Treme Brass Band playing music as they marched.  This was truly one for the bucket list.

If you don’t understand most of what I’ve talked about in this post, it’s because you’re not familiar with New Orleans and I’d suggest you read up a little and even watch the Treme series from HBO. Of course, I’d also suggest you give No’ Chance a read since there’s a lot of history and culture in there as well.



Sookie Stackhouse – A Great Job of Using Place and Character

Anyone who wants to be an author also needs to be a reader.

I am and always have been a voracious reader, just as Junebug is in Junebug and the Body. I read almost every kind of book that is out there and recently began reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, brought to the screen in the HBO series True Blood.. The novels are set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, La. but if you listen to the distances and references in the books it is obvious that, in the author’s mind, Bon Temps isn’t far from my home town of Natchitoches, La.

One day I want to meet Ms. Harris and ask her if she ever lived around here because she has done a fantastic job of capturing characters and the ambiance of the area.

I was reading one section today and wanted to put it here because I think the language and  feel it evokes is great. The language isn’t flowery and probably couldn’t be considered prose, but it is on the money as far as accuracy.

This is from Dead as a Doornail. The setup is:

Sookie is at the hospital visiting a man who is also a shape shifter, technically a were-panther. The man was shot from ambush by an unknown sniper. In the last book he had indicated that he would like to marry and protect Sookie.

“My Gran would have urged me to accept Calvin’s offer. He was a steady man, was a shift leader at Norcross, a job that came with good benefits. You might think that’s laughable, but wait until you have to pay for insurance all by yourself, then laugh.”

It’s a short passage, just a snippet from a longer paragraph, but Ms. Harris has caught a very, very real part of the psyche behind the men in that part of Louisiana taking a particular job. Good benefits.

It is these type of real world details that make her books sing with realism, even when dealing with vampires, were-people, and witches.

I’m putting an Amazon link at the bottom of this post to the 8 book boxed set. I wish I had bought it at the start because I would have saved money

Michael Vick Dog Fighting

Michael Vick has his place in Fiction

If you are a politically correct, Animals Have Rights Too, kind of a person you are probably not gong to like this post very much and I may even lose some potential readers because of it but for some reason I feel compelled to write it.

Let me start off by saying I am not a Michael Vick fan. Not because of the dog fighting deal, we’ll discuss that later, but because he used to play, and play well, for the Atlanta Falcons and I am a die hard, have been forever, stay off of the bandwagon, New Orleans Saints fan. As those of you who read my books know I am from Louisiana and very proud of it, and was a Saints fan back when we were ecstatic if they won just one game a year. As a Saints fan, it is my solemn duty to hate the Falcons and anybody who ever played for the Falcons except for 1) those who now play for the Saints, 2) Bobby Hebert, and 3) Morton Anderson.

Before I get too far off track here though, back to Vick.

As you know, VIck was convicted and sent to prison for dog fighting, a crime which he would not have gone to prison for twenty years (and maybe even ten years) before it happened. I’m not in favor of dog fighting but it happens and the people who do it should be punished, although I think Vick probably was treated a little harshly because of who he was rather than the crime itself. Dog fighting, and rooster/cock fighting, are a throwback to a day that has long passed yet it still is a part of certain cultures. No excuse, but the simple fact is certain poorer Southern communities and cultures don’t view it the same way that more enlightened folks do.  To this day you can drive around the rural south, and I know a spot just a few miles from where I am typing this, and see small chicken coops with each containing a single rooster bred for one purpose…fighting.

Back on topic again, Vick did something wrong and was punished for it. However, his story is one echoed in thousands if not hundreds of thousands of books.

A hero falls and is then redeemed.

Vick came out of prison and went back to what he knew best, football. And no mistake about it, he is a gifted athlete.

He took his place as the third string quarterback on a team that gave him a chance, the Eagles. Then he fought his way back to being a starter.

While I don’t agree with much of what he has done or much of what he has said in his life and career, he does deserve props for stepping back up from a place that is as low as he could go and making his way back to being an NFL superstar.

Hate him if you want, but he does embody many of the characteristics of our greatest fictional heroes. A willingness to fight, a refusal to give up, and the ability to use his talents.

Texas Fires

Can Anything Good Come from the Texas Fires?

Looking out my window at the haze of smoke and driving around and seeing the smoke billowing above the trees here in East Texas reminds me of a huge fire that occurred in the Kistachie National Forest of Central Louisiana back in the late 1980s. I couldn’t find the exact date, but I hadn’t been married long and can remember seeing the smoke from our house 20 miles or so away.

My book, The Bottle Tree is based in the Kisatchie Forest and as I mentioned elsewhere I have actually walked the hills that the characters in there walk, ate the huckleberries off of the scraggly bushes, and found remnants of the old turpentine camps so I dearly love that area. When it was burning it hurt my heart. Now, twenty years later, you occasionally see some burn marks on trees but even those have mostly faded.

I guess my point in saying this is that the loss of people, property, and scenery is horrible but nature has a way of forcing us to recognize that underbrush, drought conditions, and carelessness have results. Just the other day someone drove by our yard when my wife was walking ‘Sup the Wonder Dog. The person casually flipped a lighted cigarette out the window and it landed in our yard. Luckily, she stomped the butt and nothing happened, but what if it had been a quarter mile down the road…or she wasn’t in the front yard…or it was at night.

As writers it is our duty, and actually our compulsion, to take incidences like this and let them live on through our writing. Not just that fires occurred but why they happened and, even more importantly, tell about the people that were affected.

The Bottle Tree deals with fictional life in a real turpentine camp that existed in the Kisatchie Forest in the early 20th century. What the book is about, however, are the people there, mainly Caleb, Leesie, and Johnny and a dog Bo.

That camp will live on as long as people read my book. The people whose lives were affected by the these fires, even those who died in them, can live on in the books as well..

Oh, and when you sell a book, send a donation to the firefighters.