Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Down by the River Where It's Warm and Green

Strolling through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
Way down in the deep, deep South sits a city built upon only four foot of silt. Situated between the mighty Mississippi River and the brackish water known as Lake Pontchartrain, is a place where European charm, Southern hospitality and superstition, African lore and the finest musicians in the world mix and mingle together to form what can only be New Orleans.

As you might have guessed, I am just back from my first visit to the Crescent City. It was a whirlwind trip that began with a wonderful lunch of Po’ boys and red beans and rice at Parasols Irish restaurant, located, since 1952, in the Irish Channel.  Not too far from the artist’s loft where we stayed, Parasol’s was the perfect way to begin a week of New Orleans culture.

Brass Band at Jackson Square

On day two, we took a Cemetery tour, visited Marie Laveau and Congo Square, hopped into a voodoo shop for a card reading, enjoyed a delicious drink called Dragon’s Breath at another eatery called Bayou Heat, and then headed over to Jackson Square, where we admired the beauty and peace within St. Louis Cathedral before taking a few moments to enjoy the various musicians set up between card readers and artists within the Square.  The entire day was a whirlwind to the mind and body, a delight to the senses.

On day three, we began with incredible, indescribable doughnuts from the District on Magazine Street, and then we headed over to Lafayette Cemetery to explore  and confirm the “smell of old death” before we took a tour of the Garden District. As I do in all places that I roam, I made a cat friend, he obviously hailed from one of those magnificent homes.  Lucky Cat!  When our tour was complete, we paused our endless exploring to ride the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line, the oldest streetcar line in America.  On the way back to the Quarter, dinner was prepared by Pat O’Brien’s, where we sampled their famous Hurricanes, muffaletta sandwiches, shrimp and grits, and some delicious gumbo. Then, we rounded off the third night in the sometimes macabre city with a Ghost/Vampire Tour which lead us historically and creepily around the darker sections of the Vieux Carré.   So exhausted were we from the constant trek through block after block, we hailed a cab to get back to the loft in record time for some much- needed rest.

Day four continued our endless trek and mission to see and do everything in New Orleans.  We realized very early on that it would be impossible to do everything we wanted, but we were determined to fit in as much seeing and doing as we possibly could.  So, on the fourth day we began with beignets and café au lait at Café Du Monde before we boarded the steamboat Natchez for a jazzy, yet peaceful ride down the Mississippi.  With snowballs in our hands and the river of mud beneath us, we enjoyed a tranquil afternoon in slow motion.   After arriving back on land, we hopped aboard another Street car and rode down to the French Market to peruse and look for snacks to take on the picnic we had planned for the next day.  Being easily distracted, our French Market tour was only semi-successful in that…yes, we found what we were looking for, but no we didn't look at everything because I stumbled upon Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.  It’s well-known that I have a physical incapability of ignoring anything Buffett.  So, of course we ambled in for a nice meal and smooth beverage called a Bama Breeze, which was served to me in a blender, a cold libation that simply topped the perfect New Orleans October day.

We departed from New Orleans on the fifth day, but we weren't quite ready to let the city go.  (Actually, I may never let this city go.)  So for a final hurrah, we traveled the 23-mile Causeway across Lake Pontchartrain (both ways) and then steered towards the St. Joseph’s Plantation to take their “mourning tour” and to partake of the aforementioned picnic goodies we previously procured at the French Market. The food was even more delicious eaten beneath a grand oak tree. 

Since my return, I have been asked countless times what my favorite part of the trip was, and my answer seems to be surprising to most.  What I most enjoyed was the spirit and joy of the people, and the way everyone seemed to be looking out for the person standing beside them. A friendly nod, smile or greeting was on the face of practically every soul we passed on the street or met on the bus. I found human kindness, once synonymous with the word Southern, and a laidback graciousness that is seldom (if, at all) seen in other southern cities of today.  My favorite thing about New Orleans is the way this special gathering of people embraces difference and diversity, as they instantly absorb all into their distinctly unique culture. 

To those that know me, I can sum up my entire trip with one comparison.  If I were a city, New Orleans in all of its embodiments would be me, and although it’s not my place of residence, New Orleans could easily be the place I soon will call home.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Writing Process

Warning! Disaster impending!!

I have been punched, erm, I meant gently nudged by my author twin, Johi Jenkins at, the brilliant author of The Thirst Within, Resurgence and Marguerette(Violet) Part 1 to take part in my first ever blog hop.

So here is the deal.  I am going to attempt to answer four questions about my writing, and then tag a few more authors to do the same next week.

1) What are you working on?

The Awakening series.  As of yet, this series, a tale of reincarnation, romance, and magic, is not available, but will be available soon.  Part one entitled The Priestess and the Warrior, is all finished and ready to go, and at the moment, I am deep into the first draft of Part two and have hope of completing it within the next month. 

I am very excited about this series as there is so much going on all at once which come together to tell one story of eternal love and familial bond.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

It’s extremely ambitious.  The Awakening is my aim to tell several different stories, all at different time periods of the past, while at the same time, integrating the main story which occurs in current day.  Pinky, the main character of the series, is a college Freshman when the story begins, and we see her struggling to understand who she is currently while she remembers previous lifetimes with perfect clarity.

I never write in the same genre.  My previous series, The Dark Light Saga, is a dark romantic thriller. 

3) Why do you write what you do?

I always feel like there is another story to tell, and there always seem to be characters whispering almost undetected in the darker recesses of my mind just longing to jump out onto paper so that others can read about them. 

And sometimes I want to share about the things I love, and the easiest way to do that is to create a story around those things.

4) How does your writing process work?

Well, brace yourself.  I still write everything out longhand before my fingers ever begin striking the keys at my laptop.  I wish I could tell you that I’m super organized and have clear concise outlines or at the very least note cards, but actually, I touched with the gift of "scattered organization".  I write outlines and little notes on anything and everything, whatever happens to be in my way at that moment, and then I stuff them into whatever spiraled notebook I’m scribbling in right then.   Also, on the margins of all my notebooks are words or thoughts that I want to incorporate along with indecipherable doodles and song lyrics to whatever I happen to be listening to as I write.   It’s a wonder I ever get anything written and more amazing that I never stop writing.   

Well, there are my four questions!  That wasn’t too terrible.  Did anyone fall asleep?  Need a tissue for the drool?  Bored to tears?

Now, it’s time to tag other amazing authors.  They will be answering the same questions next week.  Make sure to check out their blogs and their works. They are fantastic authors!

1) Victoria Holt at, author of the young adult series Rise of the Battle Bred: 97 and the upcoming and greatly anticipated 98. I have spent hours laughing with Victoria as we share our writing woes, namely refusing to allow life to interfere with our writing. 

2) W. L. Wilmot at of dark fiction and haunting poetry. He is working on a super secret project which I’ve had the pleasure of sneak peaking. If you are one of my Dark Light Saga fans, you will love W. L.’s writing.

Check them out next week!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

There is Always HOPE!

“How many people worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore him on Monday?”

I read this quote earlier today after engaging in one of the most horrific conversations I have had to date and the anger which resulted from this unrighteousness has inspired me to write my first blog in many, many months.  Several weeks ago, I saw a few back-to-back news stories that made me stop and shake my head in disbelief at the desolation in our world that is caused by humans.  The first news item was about a caterer.  The caterer had been booked for an event, which was canceled at the last moment.  Stuck with a large amount of already prepared food, the caterer decided rather than throw out perfectly good, wholesome food, she would take it to the growing larger homeless population who lived near her apartment building and whom she walked past every day.  A local policeman witnessed the caterer in the act of being kind and caring and promptly fined this thoughtful woman and dumped all of the professionally-prepared lasagna into a trash receptacle. WHY?????? Because it’s illegal to feed homeless, starving people.

While I was still stewing over this terrible news report, several days later a local advocate was once again on the television speaking out about the homeless population in Nashville, in hopes to rouse concern and garner help to those in need who live in a “tent-city”..  At any given time, Nashville has 3 to 4 thousand homeless people, and the reasons behind their circumstances are so varied that it is impossible to properly identify why they are there because each person living there has their own personal story.  Blanket statements (usually derogatory and often mentioning that “they made poor choices, or they like being homeless, or they are bums and don’t want to work” to describe these folks as an entire group are just as biased and prejudiced as is trying to lump any other group of people into a “they-are-this” or “they-are-that” category.  Statistics now prove that most of us are only a few paychecks (sometimes just 1 or 2) away from finding our own selves in a desperate state of financial emergency.  And this can lead very quickly to becoming homeless. It can happen to anyone.  Anytime. To learn more about homelessness in Nashville, check out the informative article at the link below:

For weeks now I have been worrying over this horrible problem of people living on the street,  that seems fixable.  My mind came up with several naïve yet sincere possible solutions.  For instance…empty buildings and empty houses.  There are so many of them…more than enough to go around.  Or what about the uber-successful ABC drama Nashville possibly being used as an outlet, with the story-line we read in the daily news becoming part of their written screen play?  Both the radio and television have reported how monetarily successful the show has been for businesses, actors, the local restaurants and bars, and more in Nashville, Tennessee.  Jobs have been created. Businesses are booming due to the recognition.  It’s occurred to me that the writers of the show could write the homeless “tent-city” problem into their story-line and have one or several of their characters actively try to raise money and help. Others have said the following, and I agree.  Nashville always seems to muster up funds for expensive riverside art, restoration and the building of new athletic and musical arenas.  If they used the same Volunteer state spirit and tackled the problem of homelessness, imagine what all that care and concern could do!   The homeless not only need houses, but they need jobs, therapy, clothes, food, etc… There are several good organizations already set up, already trying to eliminate this suffering.  But, there is still a lot to accomplish, This unfortunate way of life can use all the help it can get, and what better way to get help but by reaching all of America through an hour long high-ratings television show that they are going to be watching anyway.  People might be able ignore what is right in front of their face as they walk down the street, but they all sit down and watch the television.  They won’t ignore that. Homelessness is not a situation that Nashville can be proud of, not right now.  But, people  do have the power and heart to change it, if only …

Here are a few links to great organizations that are trying to make a difference.  Check them out.  I bet you will find there are things you might be able to also help with. I know I did.

And, as to the horrible conversation mentioned above… I think out loud a lot, especially when something is truly bothering me, such as human suffering.  Because I have a great longing to heal all things (even when I don’t necessarily have the right solution to do so), I find myself talking about these topics that are at the forefront of my mind.  Very recently, I mentioned this topic in conversation with someone who presents themselves as a model citizen.   Yet, at the very mention of the homelessness issue our state and country is having, this same person, in all seriousness, says, “The simplest solution is to just shoot them all. Being homeless was their choice.” 

I’m not sure I have ever been as infuriated and disappointed in mankind as I was the moment this person uttered those words.  In fact, rather than scream, I had to stand up and leave the room, and I still couldn't keep myself from slamming the door rather hard.  But I don’t believe that all people are that uncaring and callous.  In fact, I think most people truly do want to help, they just aren't sure how.  So again, please take the time and check out a few of those links above.  They each have a variety of ideas, and many are fairly simple and easy.

As a final thought, I believe that when a thing upsets you or me that deeply it’s because we are being pushed by something higher than our own selves to step in and try to make a difference. There is always HOPE.  So perhaps, I was meant to write this particular blog all along or find other ways that I can help, and maybe this will encourage you to reach out and help, too.  Let me know if you have any ideas.  I would love to hear them.