Category Archives: Fans/Readers

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

Thursday

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

Friday

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.

Saturday

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

 

Finishing Up New Book

The new book should be with the editor by the end of February at the latest!

The first bunch of books I worked on seemed to fly by, the writing was generally easy and things went pretty smooth even though the publishing on Amazon Kindle and Createspace was still a little glitchy.

However, on the ones I’m working on now, it has been one problem after another.

I decided, after doing a story reading to some kids at the school in Coushatta, La. (with Dr. Shane Rasmussen of the Folklife Center at Northwestern State University ) to do a Middle School – Young Adult book. The fact that at every appearance and festival I’ve attended I’d always been asked if I had any children’s books played a part as well.

As with many of my works, I had the title for a while. The outline of the book popped into my head not long after the visit to the school and, like I usually do, I made some notes and saved them then started writing. In the meantime I would jump from one project to another but always meant to go ahead and wrap up the kids book.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a health issue which slowed me down for a little while and after that broke my shoulder in two places and banged my head a good one while on vacation. It took a while, a lot longer than when I was young, to heal up and get to the point I could use the keyboard again.

When I finally recovered enough to sit down and get back to work on the book…my notes had disappeared! I still had the first pages I’d written but not my notes. And, apparently the bang to the head had whacked my memory just a little since, for the first time ever, I couldn’t remember how a story I was working on was supposed to progress!

So I’ve spent months now looking for the notes and trying to recreate the ending in my head. Finally, I just decided that it must not have been that good if I’d forgotten and decided to figure out a new storyline using the characters I already had in the book. Once I did that…BANG!!!…a new story appeared and I could use what I’d already written, work in a little mythology,  a little history, and I’m right back on track. Note: this time I made a file with the notes and saved it in several places, plus I wrote it down on a piece of paper.

So by the end of the month I will have (hopefully) finished the first in a new series of books for kids. I won’t tell you the name yet, but I can tell you it has dragons, knights, twin boys named Robert and Anthony (which just happens to be the names of my twin sons) toilets, poo, wizards, and all kinds of other good things!

I’ll announce when it’s ready but it will definitely be completed in paperback for he appearance this summer at the Natchitoches – Northwestern State University Folklife Festival held at the NSU campus on Saturday, July 21, 2018.

If you’ve never been to Natchitoches, Louisiana you should put it on your calendar for this year. It is a beautiful city, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, and where numerous movies have been filmed including Steel Magnolias, The Horse Soldiers, and many others. There are gorgeous plantations outside of town, history everywhere, Kisatchie National Forest (the site of the turpentine camp in my first book, The Bottle Tree), and so much more. Plus, it’s a reasonably priced place to visit and the Folklife Festival tickets are a great value! It’s my favorite venue to meet people and sell books.

I should have this book and one other new one ready for this year’s festival, maybe more!

 

Calling All Book Clubs!

Calling all book clubs

One of the things I enjoy most about being a writer is interacting with readers and potential readers. I always learn something new about them, the subject of my book, or, just as often, about myself. As a matter of fact, the only thing I don’t like about doing book signings is that often it gets so hectic I don’t get to spend as much time interacting with individuals as I would like.

Unfortunately, it seems as if reading is becoming a lost art and I would love to do anything I can to help keep it stay alive.

If there are any book clubs out there looking for a writer to speak to their group, either in person or via Skype, or to help them with some type of promotion drop me an email and let me know. I’ve donated autographed books or collections of books in the past and have also agreed to let readers name characters in future books as a way to help clubs.

My schedule is pretty flexible and I’m willing to drive to meetings in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Louisiana (or maybe further!) and Skype is always a possibility. I don’t ask for expenses since I’m always doing research on different parts of the country and the chances are good that no matter where you are located I’ve got a project being researched near you.

The offer applies to libraries and schools as well. Last year I was honored to be asked to accompany Dr. Shane Rasmussen, the head of the Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University, to a storytelling session at the Coushatta Elementary School (in Louisiana) and had a tremendous time talking to several classes of students there. I was even luckier since the older of my twin sons, Robert Michael Bennett, went with me and the students got to hear a little about his backpacking trip across Europe from which he’d just returned.

So…drop me a line if I can be of any help. I’m always happy to add dates to my calendar.

The Death of Characters

No' Chance

Which of the characters in my books were supposed to die and wouldn't?

Unlike a lot of writers, as a general rule I am not able to plot out my books. The Bottle Tree was an anomaly, I woke up from a nap one day and knew virtually the entire story. I had to fill in odd bits and pieces but the entire concept was there.

NOTE: PARTIAL SPOILER FOLLOWS BELOW ON NO' CHANCE

However, in No' Chance, when I started writing it I intended to kill off one of the main characters. It was going to play into the story and there was a purpose there, no random acts of violence for me, but it ended up twisting.

As I was writing No' Chance, I found that the characters and the story absolutely refused to let me offer the one up as a sacrifice. In most of my books, as in most books and movies in general, there is a bit of foreshadowing that a character is going to be lost. When you finish the book and go back to re-read it, you can now see the handwriting on the wall.

However, I am not one to force my ideas of a story on the story or characters and if they want to go in a different direction, that's exactly what happens. Quite often where I think it is going turns out to be incorrect.

As those of you who have read No' Chance know, the ending is set in New Orleans. Originally it was going to be in Collinwood, Noah's home town, at a carnival on the town square. Instead, it ended up being at the edge of Jackson Square with the Mississippi River Levee the scene of the final confrontation.

Why?

I have no idea, that's just where the book wanted to go. One problem is that it makes it hell on the editing because even now I see hints in the book that I recognize as setting up the carnival scene.

That's why a lot of time when people ask me where I got a certain idea I really can't explain it. All I can say is that the book said that is what was supposed to happen.

Oh, and in No' Chance…Jennifer was going to die when I started it. However, when I tried to work toward that ending, it's like the characters left and refused to cooperate. I finally decided to change it and they reappeared to help me finish the story.