Summer is here and everyone is looking for something fun to do. I'd like to suggest that you consider visiting the 2015 Natchitoches-NSU Louisiana Folklife Festival held in beautiful and historic Natchitoches, Louisiana at the Prather Coliseum on the campus of Northwestern State University. Most of the exhibits (including my booth) are inside the air conditioned coliseum so you can escape the heat and see some great craftsmen, hear good music and try Louisiana foods.
The Folklife Festival is set for July 17th-18th, 2015, and the theme this year is Backroads and Bayous: Celebrating Louisiana's Rural Folklife.
The link to the festival website with the schedule and bands is here.
My wife and I used to visit this every year from when we were first married continuing through when we moved away and then we were lucky enough to be invited to start attending as exhibitors when I started publishing books a number of years ago. The festival is put on by the folks at the Northwestern State University Folklife Center and they do a great job every year. The cost is low and it is well worth the expense plus, if you've never been to Natchitoches, it's a great time to visit my hometown.
Natchitoches is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, founded in 1714, just a short distance from the location of the festival.
If you do decide to attend be sure and stop by my booth and visit with me. I'll have books there for sale but I like to visit with everyone whether they purchase or not and my family has lived in the Natchitoches are since its founding. I've actually been learning about its history since I was a very, very small child through the stories my relatives told in addition to the enormous number of hours I've spent doing formal research so I can probably point you to some interesting places that most people don't know about as well as the more touristy ones. My kids can tell you that no matter where you are in Natchitoches Parish I can probably point in a direction and tell you something fun or historic not far away (much to their boredom at times).
Anyway, it really is a great festival and Dr. Shane Rasmussen and his staff are working hard to preserve the Louisiana culture and heritage, focusing on not just the bayous and swamps of the southern part of the state or New Orleans.
First, writers are readers. Even though this is my author blog, anyone who tells you they are a writer but doesn't have time to read, will never be a good writer. In order to get better you have to learn and the best way to learn is by reading what other writers have done.
That doesn't always mean reading Shakespeare or even Faulkner. My favorite writers are Stephen King and John Grisham, although I don't read Grisham as much as I used to.
Sycamore Row is reminescent of Grisham's first, and in my opinion best, book so far A Time to Kill and also reads a lot like Playing for Pizza (his book about pro football, kind of).
In A Time to Kill, Grisham absolutely caught what it is like to be a lawyer in a small town. His hero, Jake Brigance, had the same problems, faced the same hard choices, and had good and bad days just like real lawyers do. Grisham writes about real people.
In Sycamore Row, Grisham returns to Ford County and writes about Jake Brigance, three years after the Carl Lee Hailey trial from A Time to Kill. All of the characters make a return including Lucius Wilbanks and Harry Rex Vonner.
The topic this time isn't a murder trial but rather a probate hearing aka a will contest. From experience I can tell you that probate work can be both the most boring and the most dangerous work a lawyer can do. Lay-people think that family law cases are the most antagonistic but they haven't seen anything until they see a family fight over a few dollars in an estate. The only time I ever felt like I needed a gun in court was in a will contest case that ended with an 80+ year old man using a walker pulling a pocketknife on a 40+ year old woman, who was scrambling to get a straight razor out of her purse when the bailiff broke it up.
Grisham does an absolutely masterful job in setting the scene and building his characters. I had forgotten just how good he was at this and how accurately he portrays lawyers, judges and clients in the book.
Sycamore Row gets a big thumbs up and a five star rating from me.
Deep South Magazine has just published another of the poems from my work in progress collection, Always the Heat.
This poem is titled First You Make a Roux. It was inspired by a painting I bought some years ago on a trip to New Orleans with my best friend.
All good Louisiana cooking starts with a roux, and it's something I stessed to my kids when I started teaching them how to cook.
Look for the poem at http://deepsouthmag.com/2013/11/first-you-make-a-roux/ and I hope you like it.
My poem, Winter in Louisiana, was just published in Deep South Magazine.
As you can tell by the name, most of my writing will fit in well there since they have a very distinctive Southern Viewpoint.
Another poem is scheduled for a fall publication date.