Sociable

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Foibles ~~ Photo Finishes

Hello friends. Hope you've got fun plans for the weekend. Are you as ready for spring as I am? "Warm" thoughts to you all.

Since pictures speak a thousand words, we'll let them do the talking on this TGIF...










Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Writerly Wednesday ~~ Laura Martone Interview

This week's interesting tidbits and nuggets before we get to the Q&A:

You've GOTTA see what C-R-A-Z-Y Kat's up to now with her pending second book's release. Join the insanity -- enter her contest and mine (scroll down) for a chance to win prizes and signed copies of SECRET GRACES! First KAT READ NEKKID....NOW WHAT?

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Our Brit blogging friend and Ms. Twit UK Rebecca Woodhead has entered the world of indie publishing. Check out the trailer she's working on! And consider joining her Word Nerd Army.

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From a mommy writing group I joined ten years ago comes this announcement which I haven't investigated, but sounds interesting:

If you're stuck with your novel here's a great, new seven day novel writing course. It gently leads you through the whole novel writing process offering tips and tricks designed to make the whole writing process a joy, not a drudge!
Based on the author's experiences of running a write-a-novel-in-a-day workshop for an arts festival, the course is delivered by daily email and is completely free.
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Of Local interest~~

The annual Friends of the LSU Libraries Book Bazaar is right around the corner! Publicity Coordinator Madeline Mocan says:
We've got a great selection of books -- over 60,000 volumes, including 2,500 cookbooks, tons of literature and poetry, southern fiction and history, and a mountain of contemporary trade fiction. Our cookbook section is loaded with books about Louisiana and Southern cooking.
Friends of the LSU Libraries 2010 Book Bazaar
Thursday, March 4 and Friday, March 5 - 9AM to 7PM
Saturday, March 6 - 9AM to 5PM
On the LSU Campus at the 4-H Mini-Barn and Nelson Memorial Buildings (just south of the Parker Coliseum)
Free admission. Cash or check only. Ample free parking.
For more information, call the Book Barn at 578-5925 or email bbfriends@lsu.edu.
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Poet powerhouse Ava Haymon has a new book of poetry out! Ava will be reading and signing copies of her WHY THE HOUSE IS MADE OF GINGERBREAD (LSU Press) on Sunday, February 28 at 4:00. Come and meet her at the Baton Rouge Gallery. 


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Now, it's my pleasure to introduce blogging friend Laura Martone to y'all. (You can find out all about her and her busy writing life at her blogs/websites here, here, here, here, here and here!)


1.) What has your writing journey been like so far? It's been a bumpy journey, to say the least. I grew up an only child, surrounded by books and movies, so literature and cinema fascinated me at an early age. I enjoyed both writing and filmmaking in high school - even won a few writing awards and attended a radio/TV/film program at Northwestern University between my junior and senior years. By the time I was ready for college, I knew I wanted to focus on three kinds of writing: fiction, screenwriting, and travel journalism. So, I returned to Northwestern for two undergraduate degrees - a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film. While there, I was accepted into two two-year writing programs: The Theory and Practice of Fiction and Creative Writing in the Media. That was my first foray into critique groups, and boy, those college kids were harsh.

I landed a technical writing job (ick!) at a now-defunct educational multimedia company near Chicago, and I wrote a few online articles for Sidewalk Chicago (the precursor to Citysearch). Although my technical writing job was somewhat awful, I did meet my future husband there. Soon afterward, we both quit our jobs and moved to England, where I started (but didn't finish) a novel. When we returned to Chicago, we both found lucrative marketing jobs at the kind of Internet start-ups that tempted us to work long hours in exchange for beanbag chairs, free bagels and ice cream, and pool tables. Not long afterward, we both decided we'd had enough of the corporate life, so we sold all our furniture and hit the road in an RV, our kitty in tow.

I wrote an online ecotourism column for The Ecotourism Observer and sent queries to travel magazines. My first magazine article was a piece about South Padre Island, Texas, in MotorHome magazine. After writing a few more articles (for MotorHome, RV Journal, and Route 66 Magazine), I started updating travel guides for Insight Guides. Eventually, I started working for Avalon Travel until I finally had the chance to write my own guide. Since then, I've written the first edition of Moon Baja RV Camping and the third edition of Moon Michigan, joined the Society of American Travel Writers, and started work on the first edition of Moon Florida Keys.

When I'm not doing the travel thing, keeping up with my blogs, beta-reading my friends' novels, or helping my husband with our two film festivals, I try to squeeze in time to work on my current novel - which is technically my second one (the first being the one I started in England). After working on it, I finally thought it was ready for the querying stage this past spring, but the invaluable beta-reading process taught me otherwise. So, as soon as I've finished my latest travel guide, I'll be hard at work on the revision. In the meantime, I'll keep learning what I can from the ever-informative blogosphere.

2.) How far along on the WIP trail are you, what's it about, and what comes next? My work-in-progress is actually done, but it's way too long at the moment - so I'm in the midst of the revision process. During the summer, I summoned the aid of several different beta readers to help me see what I clearly cannot…which characters, scenes, and other tidbits are simply not necessary.

The WIP is tentatively called Hollow Souls. The premise is pretty simple: A woman longs to return to her childhood home, a secret underground village in southern Kentucky, where her first love lives, but she's reluctant to abandon her husband and daughters back in New Orleans.

Once I'm finished with what I hope will be the final revision of Hollow Souls, I plan to query potential agents. And while I'm querying, I intend to work on my second novel, the coming-of-age, road-trip tale titled Red Road Crossing that I started in England.

3.) Do you find it hard to build your blog and author platform while writing and thinking about the next step -- querying? Most writers have to juggle multiple tasks these days - besides family, friends, hobbies, perhaps a day job, maybe even classes, and, of course, the works-in-progress, there's now the added pressure of building an author platform before, during, and after a book is published. Like others I know, I definitely find it challenging to squeeze so much into a single day. For several years, I locked myself away (so to speak) and focused on my fiction writing - when I wasn't working a full-time job or spending quality time with the hubby. Earlier this year, I finally decided to come out of hiding and explore the big, bad world of publishing - and goodness, I was in for a shock. Although I'd already created a temporary website for my novel, I had yet to take the blogging plunge. Now, however, in addition to my "real" work as a travel guidebook author and film festival co-director, I'm juggling four blogs - one about my novel, one about travel, one that gets the creative juices flowing, and one about all of that and more.

Here's the funny part, though: I haven't found it hard to build my blog and author platform while writing and querying. I've found it hard to write and query while I'm building my blog and author platform. In other words, I'm having so much fun blogging that I'm finding it difficult to work on my revision - which is obviously a necessary step before querying. I've found the blogosphere incredibly rewarding. I've met so many wonderfully generous writers - some of whom have even been willing to help me with my novel - and I've learned so much about the craft of writing and the state of publishing. I know that I'll soon have to minimize my blogging activity - a fact that honestly makes me a little sad.

4.) Tell us what it's like living in THREE different states! Yes, it's true. The hubby and I have trouble keeping still for long. After we left Chicago in an RV, we roamed around the country for about a year before settling down in Los Angeles, where we run the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival. But after about five years, we grew a little weary of the southern California vibe - and decided to hit the road again. So, for the past four years, we've divided our time between New Orleans (my hometown and site of our other film fest), where we spend the spring and fall; Los Angeles, where we spend the winter; and northern Michigan, where we spend the summer.

Obviously, we avoid extreme heat and extreme cold by traveling this way - and getting to know three distinct places has definitely helped with my travel writing career. Of course, we appreciate the uniqueness of each locale, but part of why we travel so often is that neither of us has found the perfect place yet. We both like the vitality of urban areas like New Orleans and the peace of isolated rural areas like northern Michigan - so our current nomadic existence fulfills us in a way that staying in one spot wouldn't. When we tire of the city, we move on to the country - and when the quiet begins to drive us mad, we return to the people (and the traffic) of the city.

It's certainly not the life for everyone, but it works for us. It would be a different situation if we had children - which we don't. And luckily, our kitty doesn't mind traveling around the country with us. Honestly, the only drawback is the frequent packing (and unpacking). That part I could do without.

5.) What's the best pieces of writing and blogging advice you've gotten? Wow. This is probably the hardest question. Since April, when I first entered the blogosphere and discovered how helpful blogs and beta readers could be, I've learned so many wonderful tips for writing, revising, and blogging. Some bloggers, in particular, have been most helpful - namely Nathan Bransford (who provides invaluable information about agents and publishing in general) and Susan Mills (who helps to navigate her fellow writers through the ins and outs of writing, revising, and preparing for the professionals).

But perhaps the best pieces of advice I've received have come from my beta readers. Regarding writing, all of them are in agreement that I need to scale back on descriptions, let the reader's imagination fill in the details, and start "showing" what I keep trying to "tell" - so that readers live, feel, and think through my characters, instead of just being told what they're experiencing. It might sound like obvious advice to most writers, but for me, it's been a hard lesson to learn. After all, one of my favorite authors is Charles Dickens, and he was definitely a "tell versus show" kind of guy.

Weronika Janczuk, one of my beta readers, has offered a treasure trove of information over the past several months - from hints about book covers to tips for getting the most out of beta-reading. In a three-part series entitled "A Blogger's Life," she offered some invaluable advice about improving the look of one's blog - by doing things like adding photos and breaking up the content - advice that definitely informs one of my own blogs.

6.) Do you write in any other genres? At the moment, literary/mainstream fiction seems to come most naturally to me, but I once sold an erotic short story and a horror screenplay that I co-wrote with my husband, and I intend to complete my horror, mystery, and fantasy WIPs in the future. I must admit, too, that I've always wanted to write Westerns - I think it's the rugged landscape that inspires me most.

7.) Fill in the blank: "I wish I'd have known __________ before I started seriously working on my novel." This might sound a little too simplistic, but I wish I would've known the acceptable word count ranges for a debut novel before I started seriously working on Hollow Souls, which is currently way too long for most agents and publishers. When you've written, revised, proofread, and repeated said process more times than is sane - and found it harder to see the story clearly each time - that's when beta readers and their varying perspectives become invaluable. Without them, I'd have found it difficult to attempt yet another revision - no matter how necessary it is.

8.) Tell me something about yourself or your writing life that I didn't know to ask. Nothing's too strange or crazy for Gumbo Writer readers. Well, when I was little, I was obsessed with knives - collected them every chance I got. I never used them, mind you - I just found them amazing. Even my high school boyfriend participated in the mania, giving me several knives over the years. Of course, this was also the boyfriend who let me play with his pet tarantula, scorpion, iguana, and pythons.
As for my writing life, well, music inspires me when I write, but for the most part, I can only listen to classical music and movie scores - nothing with lyrics, which only confuse me while I'm writing. Strangely enough, though, I can listen to Willie Nelson and Tracy Chapman - neither of whom disturbs the flow of my writing. I'm still not sure why their music resonates with me and doesn't interfere with my creative energy, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it, righ?

Thanks for interviewing me, Angie. I enjoy gabbing with a fellow Louisianian!

You can also find Laura on Twitter and Facebook: http://twitter.com/lauramartone 
http://www.facebook.com/martonelaura

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Economical Epicurianism


Before we stir it up in the kitchen, don't forget to sound off in the CRAZY KAT CONTEST! (Scroll down to see how you can win an autographed copy of Kathryn Magendie's new book. No idea is too crazy. She's already read nekkid, so throw out an idea or two!)

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Thanks to my dad I've always been a recycler, and that frugal mindset also extends to food. I see something in the fridge and automatically think, "What can I turn this into?" In other words, it makes me nuts [okay, more nuts] to throw perfectly good food out.

Over the years, reusing whatever's on hand to create good meals has saved a lot of money and time. So for your cooking and dining pleasure today, boys and girls, may I present an example of economic epicurianism? 

Remember the Voodoo BBQ Ribs? I transformed those leftovers into this:

Chipped BBQ Beef

3 large leftover BBQ ribs (cut into small bites)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup BBQ sauce
3 Tbsp. mustard
1/2 cup syrup or brown sugar

In large pan over low heat, mix all ingredients together well and simmer. Stir frequently. This makes a delicious main dish or sandwich component to enjoy.


Loaded Mashed Potatoes Revisited

5 pounds Irish potatoes - peeled and cubed
1 large bag shredded cheddar
Smart Balance butter
Low Fat milk
seasoning to taste (garlic, salt, pepper)
1 can French Onion dip (or sour cream equiv.)
1 lb. bacon (microwaved and crumbled)

Boil potatoes until soft enough to mash. Drain and mash, but leave some chunks. Return to pot. Add all other ingredients -- don't be afraid to play with amounts and ingredients -- it's hard to mess this dish up! Simmer on low, stirring often. If too thick, add more milk. Garnish with green onions, bacon crumbles and/or more shredded cheese.

***For Round Two I prepared a box of instant mashed potatoes, added more cheese, sour cream and seasoning to the leftover original potatoes, and had a full pot to serve again!

***You know it had to happen...those two-fer yummy loaded mashed taters then turned into soup:




Next week? Leftover Spaghetti Casserole!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Contest Update ~~ Kat Reading Nekkid?



Whut?? Yes, it's true. Kathryn Magendie is up to wild things up on her mountain. Find out if she's just gone crazy or is this what authors have to do these days? Kat is reading from her new book SECRET GRACES sans clothing! (And it's c-o-l-d up there. Hope her neighbors don't have binoculars.)

Then think up other promo stunts and ideas she can attempt, and leave them in a comment for my contest here or below, and the one she's hosting at her blog. You could win signed books and special prizes.

Winners announced soon! Feel free to Retweet and/or pass it forward. We'll both love ya for it. :D (Plus, selfishly, I want lotsa people to suggest loony things for Kat to do!)




Nude Reading graphic from allposters.com

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writerly Wednesday ~~ Good Scoop, Author Interview & Contest!



Oh boy! Lots of goodies for you writers to enjoy today. Grab a comfy chair, a beverage and a plate of southern finger foods, and join us in my cyber living room. [The contest announcement's down yonder at the bottom. LOL]

First, please meet Louisiana author Toni McGee Causey whose Bobbie Faye books are getting rave reviews. I finally made it to Barnes & Noble for one of her signings, and have good reading material awaiting me.


One reviewer says, ""Readers who like the humor of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series will be thrilled to meet Bobbie Faye." —Library Journal (starred review)

Check out Toni's blog, newsletter, more reviews, book excerpts, and more at her site. If you're a Twit, her handle is @ToniMcGeeCausey. If you don't already know her and her whacky MC, you should. You can get a taste by watching her trailer. Geaux Toni!
 
 
 
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A sprinkling of writing nuggets for your enjoyment~~
 
Don't know what Genre Wars is? Hit the link and find out!
 
Self-Editing tips at Harvey Stanbrough's blog today. Good stuff as always. 
 
Poetry -- There's an app for that! Get in the Poem Flow and get poetry literally at your fingertips.
 
Analyze this! Did you know you can get free couch time for your characters? Check out Jeannie Campbell's The Character Therapist blog. Highly fascinating!

A nice blog post on the use of personification in prose by Nannette Croce.
 
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I asked to be a whistle stop on Kathryn Magendie's blog book tour, so help me welcome Kat into the Gumbo Writer station! Her new book SECRET GRACES is poised for release, and it's every bit as fabulous as TENDER GRACES. (Yeah, ain't I lucky? I got to read the manuscript.) You'll love the trailer!
 
Thanks to Kat for doing an author interview for us to relish AND for doing a reading from SECRET GRACES: 
 
1.) For the sequel to TENDER GRACES, how'd you come up with the title SECRET GRACES, and will there be a third GRACES book for a trilogy? The publishers came up with Tender Graces for the first book, so we knew the next book or books in the Virginia Kate sagas would have either Tender or Graces. Since I ain’t Tender (no I am not, quit saying I am! Stop it!) I wanted to use Graces, which turned out lovely since now people call the books “The Graces.” Secrets was a good choice; secrets are such a part of our lives, and especially when it comes to relationships between men and women, and within families. And there are some of my own secrets embedded in the novel(s).

There is a planned third book in The Graces (or Virginia Kate Sagas)—VK still needs to tell the story of Adin, her adopted daughter. I’m considering more VK or Graces books, but I don’t know yet. It’s funny, because I only meant to write that short story until you, Angie, prodded me, and then I only meant to write one VK book—who knew?

2.) Might we hear you reading from SG? Sure! Now, um, I ain’t purdy, and I have a gravely voice, and I’m kind of a dweeb, and, no one knows I’m wearing my jammie bottoms while doing the reading (haw!), and, well, I could go on, but I probably shouldn’t *laugh* I read a couple of excerpts and put it in a YouTube vid. Hope you enjoy.

3.) Do the characters from TG/SG "speak" to you even when you're not writing or editing? Virginia Kate has been very quiet and only speaking when I open up the manuscript(s), unlike some characters from other works who can poke me and prod me. I think about them a lot, though, who they are, and what they’re doing, and where they will go. Some characters do seem to whisper into my ear, but then again, we all know that can’t really happen, now can it? *grin*

Although, I actually “saw” my Sweetie character (another novel waiting in the wings) while walking in the cove—she wavered there, and I still wonder if she was a ghost here in these mountains, a girl who had something to say, a story to tell—I’ve never had an experience like that before or since. She’s the only character I’ve ever seen “whole,” as my characters are never “wholes” but pieces, or as if seen from afar or though a mist. I saw Sweetie’s dress, hair, feet, all of her, except her face is harder to see, but still, more clear than any other, and she spoke to me: “I got something to say and you got to listen.” It was magical.

4.) If you could let readers know one thing, what would it be? That I love them. That every time I finish writing for the day, I think about who will read those words and how will it affect them and if they will love what I have written. That if it were not for readers, I’d be whispering right into a big black hole in the sky. My words are nothing without them.

5.) What is the best & worst thing about being a published author? The best thing is knowing your words and the characters you love so much are being read by people—strangers even, people you never will meet. It makes me smile to think somewhere, someone may have my book open and reading it.

The worst thing is worrying I’ll disappoint someone: my readers, my publishers, myself.

6.) If someone didn't read TG, will they still be able to understand SG? Yes, I sure hope so! I mean for The Graces/VK Sagas to each stand on their own. So, you can read TG or SG and stop there. Of course, reading SG may prompt one to read TG, and vice versa, but I want readers to be satisfied at the end, heave a sigh, and say, “Oh, lovely…” then it’d be nice if they’d say, “I can’t wait to read the next book.”

7.) I love the way you put little hidden messages and symbols into your books. Can you expose one for us? Well, I hope people will read along and suddenly think, “Oh! Did she do that on purpose?” or “Oh, I wonder if this means . . .” and maybe I did and maybe it does. But, a really simple one is there are some titles of books hidden here and there—maybe a book I just read, maybe one from my shelf, or maybe one I saw in the bookstore and want to pick up. There aren’t many titles, but they are there.

There are many symbols though—like earth wind fire and to a lesser degree, water, or the dark horse, the moon, the locket, trees and nature, storms, and others.

8.) Are you tired of people asking you if your books are autobiographical? No, I’m really not. It’s flattering, actually. If I created a world that was so real and so True that people think it was my life, then that’s pretty cool. I did use that big event in my life, of my bio mom giving up her children, but Virginia Kate and the rest are made up people.

My mother says people ask her, “I didn’t know about so and so!” and she has to remind them this is fiction, this was not our family and life. I don’t think they believe her, because they’ll then usually ask, “Is that Uncle Arville real? If so, I want to kick his butt!” *laughing* She has to explain again, “No, he’s not real; this is fiction . . .”

9.) How has your experience as Co-Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal impacted you as a writer, or has it? I think it impacted me more as an editor, which in turn affected my writing—I learned how to be a better editor and that in return helped me to edit my own work with a “finer eye.”

10.) Tell us something funny or strange that happened to you after TG came out. I dreamed about Miss Darla or maybe it was Grandma Faith—and she had some message for me, but I couldn’t figure it out. It was so real and affected me in such a strong way. All the next day I couldn’t shake the thought I was supposed to learn something, or find out something, or something was going to happen. Then I wondered if it, the happening or the thoughts, belonged in the book or in real life, and for a moment, the two worlds were confused and I felt most surreal and strange. I have a book I put on the backburner that is both fiction and nonfiction, real and not real—where I am actually a character in the book, and how the lines of reality and fiction are sometimes blurred, how a writer can feel more connected to his/her characters and fiction world than to the real world, and what damage that can do to the people in their real lives—I can’t wait to get started on that book again.

Also, I was surprised at how many people emailed me to say they dreamed about certain characters in Tender Graces, or the women who had a crush on the enigmatic and troubled Micah.

Thank you Angie! This was fun!

The fun was definitely mine. Thank you for going above and beyond on this Writerly Wednesday. Everything you ever wanted to know about Kat is at her blog!


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Now, the contest! Come up with the coolest way you can think of for Kat to promote her new book SECRET GRACES, and leave the idea in a comment. Think way off the beaten promotion path (aren't ya glad I didn't say "out of the box?") and see what you come up with.
 
And if your email address isn't connected to your blogging ID, please include your addy at the bottom of your comment so I can reach you if you're the winner.
 
What's the prize, you ask? You, lucky winner, will receive a hot-off-the-press personalized signed copy of SECRET GRACES sent directly to your mailbox! Wheeee!
 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Trifecta of Fat Tuesday Fixin's

For all you "Catlicks" out there like me, I hope you're feasting well today in preparation for the coming 40 days of Lent beginning tomorrow. I've got a fridge full of yummy leftovers, so not gonna cook anything new today.

Add a green veggie and you've got three of our most traditional and beloved menu items to savor. And if you wanna see what's going on at New Orleans' Mardi Gras, click here: NOLA.com's parade route streaming webcam!

Jazzy Jambalaya

2 onions, 1/2 cup celery, garlic cloves to taste (chopped fine)
   {This is what is known as the holy trinity of cooking.}
Salt, black pepper, Tony Chachere's or cayenne pepper to taste
2 lbs. of your favorite sausage
4 cups rice
Kitchen Bouquet

Saute veggies in olive oil until sweated. Add to large pot of prepared rice. (Leftover brown rice works great!) Add 4 cups of water in which you've mixed Kitchen Bouquet. Simmer on very low until serving time if you are using leftover rice, making sure rice doesn't stick to bottom of pot. Your ingredients are already fully cooked. 

If you are beginning with raw rice, put all ingredients in pot together so rice can cook and absorb the flavors. Perfect for a meal or hearty side dish.



Wicked White Beans & Ham

1-1/2 lbs. ham chunks
1 lb. great white northern dry beans
1 onion (rough chopped)
Spices to taste - garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, Tony's
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet

Cover beans with water and soak overnight. Drain. Put all ingredients into crockpot and cover with water. Set on high for three hours, and then on medium-low for a few more hours with lid on. When you have an hour left til finish, remove a cup of juice and beans and smash beans with a fork. Turn heat back to high with lid removed. Pour back into crock and stir well. This will thicken beans nicely. 



Voodoo BBQ

Meat of your choice (*I get whatever's on sale!)
1 bottle cheap BBQ sauce
Season to taste (garlic powder, salt, pepper, Tony's, mustard, brown sugar)

Place meat into huge aluminum pan. Sprinkle liberally with seasonings on both sides. Cover tightly with foil. Put into 300 degree oven for 4 hours. (Low and slow is the secret to tender, juicy meat!) Remove foil and drain fat. Mop on BBQ sauce and return to oven at 400 for 30 minutes. Turn meat over and baste/brush sauce on. Return to oven at 250 degrees and lay foil over top loosely. Leave in oven an hour and a half or until you're ready to dig in. Bibs recommended! {I used huge beef ribs and a pack of chicken thighs in this picture.}


And a little bit of lagniappe...




Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras Mambo & a Blog Contest Giveaway!

Fat Tuesday's right around the corner, so it's time to don your masks and costumes and let the good times roll!

In honor of our world famous carnival, I'm having a new blog contest. The details will be "unmasked" Wednesday, giving all us carnival goers a chance to recover from parading and partying first. I'm sure New Orleans will be hosting the biggest Mardi Gras celebration ever on the heels of the Super Bowl win with Drew Brees reigning as king of Bacchus. I'll be staying local here in the Red Stick (Baton Rouge) to enjoy the festivities this year, but have one kidlet in Sin City {Be careful and behave son!}, one in Austin visiting family, and the other here at home enjoying a few days off school.

So.........what's all the fuss about the day represented by all the gaudy purple, green & gold? For background, check out the History.com site. And if you wanna see for yourself what it's like to be in the middle of the action, tune in tomorrow to NOLA.com's parade route streaming webcam!  

As Louisianians love to share all our greatest treasures with the rest of the world, how 'bout considering your own Mardi Gras party? Zatarain's [zat-uh-ran's - one of our beloved local and flavorful food lines] is reaching out beyond New Orleans for this year's party. They are asking the world to join in, as they hold the world's largest Mardi Gras party from Maine to Peru.

Back tomorrow with a Tasty Tuesday recipe I think you'll enjoy, and then on Wednesday for a new contest and super secret guest appearance. Until then, I wish you could each have a piece of King's cake!





Friday, February 12, 2010

TGIF Triple Boudreaux & Thibodaux

Before those two crazy Cajun boys take the stage, a weather update for the Deep South ~~ A rare Sneaux Day has been called for today in Baton Rouge and many surrounding areas! Who'd believe it? So, here we go with an extra long weekend leading into Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras)!!

No matter where you are, y'all keep warm, stay safe, and may you laugh your way into a long cozy weekend.

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Boudreaux goes to pick up his best friend Thibodaux at the New Orleans Airport. Thib is  finally coming home from Miami after staying a few extra days to party after the Saints' awesome Super Bowl win.

Boo realizes he's running late and steps on the gas. Soon he's stopped for going 120 in a 65. The State Trooper tells Boudreaux, "Boy, I been waiting for you all day."

Boudreaux doesn't miss a beat and says, "Mais, I got here as fast as I could!" 

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Boudreaux staggers home very late after another evening of drinking with his buddy Thibodaux. He takes off his shoes so he doesn't wake up his wife Clotile.

Boo tiptoes as quietly as he can toward the stairs leading up to their bedroom, but misjudges the bottom step. Luckily, he catches himself by grabbing the banister, his body swinging around wildly, then lands heavily on his bahonkus with a thud. Whiskey bottles in both back pockets break and make the landing even more painful. 

Managing not to yell, Boudreaux springs up, pulls down his pants, and looks in the hall mirror to see his butt cheeks cut and bleeding.

Trying to straighten himself out, Boudreaux manages to find a full box of Band-Aids. Quietly, he begins putting the bandages on every place he sees blood. He hides the nearly empty box before shuffling and stumbling his way to bed. In the morning, Boudreaux wakes up with searing pain in both his head and his butt, unsure of which is which. Clotile stares at him from across the room.

Boo's wife says through her frown, "You was drunk as a skunk again lass (last) night, you!"

Boudreaux hangs his head and asks, " Mon sha (cher/love), how you say such a mean ting(thing) 'bout me?" 

"Mais," Clotile says, "it could be da open front door...it could be da broken glass at da bottom of dem stairs...it could be da blood drops trailing all trew (through) da house...it could be dat you got blood-shot eyes...but mosley (mostly)...it's all dose (those) Band-Aids stuck on da downstairs mirror." 

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(This last Boo & Thib is PG-13, so hide the kids.) :D


Boudreaux is out in da field talkin' wit his frien Thibodaux. Thib says, "Hey Boo, you see dat ol' barn out dere?"

Boo shades his eyes and finds the barn Thib is talking about. "Mais yah, I see dat."

"Well man, it's completely infestered wit rats. I tried everyting I know of, but I can't get rid of 'em." 

Boudreaux thinks a minute and says, "Mais, Thib, I know xactly how to get rid of dem rats.

You gotta get you one of dem bull constriptors."

"What's a bull constriptor?"

"Man, dats one of dem big ole snakes dat loves to eat rats and juss (just) swallows 'em down whole all at once." 

Well, da nex day Thibodaux goes down to Klibert's Reptile Farm and buys him da biggest bull constripter dat dey got. He brings dat snake to da barn an lets him loose right in da middle and stands back to watch for a long time. After hours of seeing nuttin' happen, Thib gets bored. Dat big ole snake juss curls hisself up in da middle of da born and sleeps all day. Dem rats juss run all around not worried one bit.

Thibodaux gets real frustrated and calls up Boo on da phone. "Boudreaux, man, dats some bad advice you done gave me 'bout dat snake. Dem rats is still runnin' all around and dat snake juss lays dere sleepin' all day long."

Boudreaux says, "Man, Thibodaux, I know juss what to do. Give dat snake some Viagra."

"What? Viagra? What's dat's gonna do?"

"I was just listening to da radio and da man say dat Viagra is da best ting to use for a reptile dysfunction!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Writerly Wednesday ~~ Recipe for Breaking Out

Great linkage on tap today for what it takes to really make it in the writing world, boys and girls. 

The four main characteristics I think it takes to break out from the pack are listed below. I'd love to hear your opinions, whether you agree or disagree with my "secret ingredient" list, or have some items of your own to add.

Read, enjoy, sound off!

1. Sticktoitiveness (Endurability): Ingredient #1 is explained nicely in this new article from the LA Times. Author Dani Schapiro writes, "Call it stubbornness, stamina, a take-no-prisoners determination, but a writer at work reminds me of nothing so much as a terrier with a bone: gnawing, biting, chewing, until finally there is nothing left to do but fall away...I tell [my students] they are embarking on a life in which apprenticeship doesn't mean a cushy summer internship in an air-conditioned office but rather a solitary, poverty-inducing, soul-scorching voyage whose destination is unknown and unknowable." (Longish, but well worth the time invested in reading.)

2. Knowledge Truly is Power: Writers never reach the end of their studies, so best to put noses in books and get busy. You poets will especially enjoy this new post at Rose & Thorn Journal's blog by Managing Editor and Senior Poetry Editor Cynthia Toups on why form matters. (Most of her points are applicable to prose.) The question of rule-breaking is answered well in her post.

3. Craft Mastery: How do you master your craft? By emersing yourself in what's going on in your genre(s) of preference and building on your base knowledge. Blogaritaville is rich with awesome connections and teachers. Get to know them. Pick their brains for the riches they unselfishly share. Keep abreast, then put what you've learned to the test by practicing! Read fellow blogger and primo writing instructor Roni Griffin's tutorial on Author Intrusion. You'll be glad you did. (And there are plenty of wonderfully helpful posts at her blog.) Another blogger you should follow if you don't already is Harvey Stanbrough. He covers all things poetry, prose & editing.

4. Aim Carefully Before Shooting: Research your market and know who/what/why you're submitting to a particular journal, magazine, agent, publisher. If you don't, you'll be wasting time and setting yourself up for unnecessary rejection. Read guidelines closely. Follow instructions. Be pleasant and professional. Taking care with your submissions is one way to set yourself apart from those who scatter-shoot their work wildly, hoping something (anything) will stick.

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Ready to submit?

Rose & Thorn Journal is reading for the spring issue through 2/28. Got some bangin' poetry or prose to send us? Please consider yourself cordially invited.

If you've got a completed manuscript with at least a small element of romance in it, check out agent Nephele Tempest's current "submission fest." 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Boudreaux & Thibodaux in Hell!



Even though I can't talk today after screaming during the Supa Bowl, and my fingers hurt from a wild flurry of texting and tweeting, I'm still janked up from last night's Saints win!!!

So, in honor of this momentous and historical event, please enjoy today's special episode of Boudreaux and Thibodaux, which I usually reserve for Friday Foibles ~~~


Boudreaux and Thibodaux die and go to hell. 

The devil assigns them the usual punishments and puts them in the pit where the heat is melting everyone. Satan returns sometime later to check on his newest arrivals and is surprised to find the Cajuns just sitting around talking their strange lingo, telling jokes and not even sweating.

"How come you're not so much as sweating here where everyone else is screaming and begging for relief from the heat?"

Boudreaux laughs and says, "Man, I was raised in da bayous of Sout Looziana. Dis ain't nothin' but May in Morgan City to me!" Thibodaux laughs long and loud and adds, "Mais yeah, ain't it da troot (truth)? I was raised up in Grande Mamou, and dis is lots cooler dan (than) dere (there)."

The devil decides to really put the Cajuns through the mill. He puts them in a sealed off cave in the pit with open blazes and four extra furnaces blasting. When he comes back a few days later, the Cajuns are sitting pretty and have barely begun to sweat. Naturally, the devil is outraged and roars, "How is this possible!? You should be melted to a shrieking puddle in these conditions!"

Boo laughs even harder than before. "Hey, I done tole you -- I was raised in Sout Looziana. You tink dis is heat?! Dis ain't nothin' but August in Cow Island!"

The devil fumes. He thinks, "Alright, a little reverse ought to do the trick," and puts the hated Cajuns into a corner of hell where no heat ever reached. It is beyond freezing. And to add to Boo & Thib's misery, he throws in massive icebergs and blasting frozen air. When he returns, the Cajuns are shivering, ice hanging from every part of them, but they are still grinning like it's Christmas.

Exasperated, the devil asks, "HOW!? How is it possible?! You're impervious to heat and here you sit in conditions you can't be used to...freezing cold, and yet you're happier than if you were in heaven. WHY?!"

The Cajuns keep grinning and after slapping each other on the back, ask, "Don't dis mean da Saints won da Super Bowl?"





Now, say it "wit" me~~~ WHO DAT?!


If you wanna catch up on everything Saints, surf here to our local radio WJBO "Saints Central" online coverage. ***SAINTS PARADE: Starts at the Superdome at 5pm Tuesday 2/9

 
 
*Cajun art graphic from BestofBatonRouge.com


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who Dat in da Black & Gold Super Bowl?



In case you haven't heard...
WE
ARE
THE
CHAMPIONS...
OF THE WORLDDDDDDD!!!

Just a taste of the New Orleans Saints Who Dat hysteria we're all enjoying...

Setting the Stage - Soul of New Orleans

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Letter to Miami:


The Saints are coming. And so are we, their loyal, long-suffering and slightly discombobulated Super Bowl-bound fans.

While there's still time to prepare -- although a few hardcore Who Dats will begin trickling in Monday, most of us won't arrive until Thursday or Friday -- we thought we'd give you a heads-up about what you should expect.

First things first: You need more beer.

Yeah, we know. You ordered extra. You think you have more than any group of humans could possibly consume in one week. Trust us. You don't.

New Orleans was a drinking town long before the Saints drove us to drink. But it turns out beer tastes better when you're winning. (Who knew?) So let's just say we're thirsty for more than a championship; adjust your stockpiles accordingly. And look. When we ask you for a go-cup, be nice to us. We don't even know what "open container law" means. Is that anything like "last call"?
It's Carnival season in New Orleans (that's Mardi Gras to you), and we'll be taking the celebration on the road. So don't be startled if you walk past us and we throw stuff at you; that's just our way of saying hello. Oh, and sorry in advance about those beads we leave dangling from your palm trees. We just can't help ourselves.

February is also crawfish season, and you can be sure that more than one enterprising tailgater will figure out a way to transport a couple sacks of live mudbugs and a boiling pot to Miami.

When the dude in the 'Who Dat' T-shirt asks if you want to suck da head and pinch da tail, resist the urge to punch him. He's not propositioning you. He's inviting you to dinner. 

And if you see a big Cajun guy who looks exactly like an old Saints quarterback walking around town in a dress ... don't ask. It's a long story.

Reason No. 2: New Orleans showed the world on Sunday that we know how to throw a victory party. We don't burn cars. We dance on them.

Reason No. 3: Even if we did lose, which we won't, leaving the stadium would be like leaving a funeral, and our typical response to that is to have a parade.

Speaking of which: If you happen to see a brass band roll by, followed by a line of folks waving their handkerchiefs, you're not supposed to just stand there and watch. As our own Irma Thomas would say, get your backfield in motion.

And hey, Mister DJ! Yes, we know you've already played that stupid Ying Yang Twins song 10 times tonight, but indulge us just one more time. To us, "Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk)" isn't just a song; it's 576 points of good memories. It's the sound of a Drew Brees touchdown pass to Devery Henderson, a Pierre Thomas dive for first down on 4th-and-1, a Garrett Hartley field goal sailing through the uprights in overtime. It's what a championship sounds like. You may get sick of hearing it. We won't. Encore, dammit.

Inside Sun Life Stadium, you may find your ears ringing more than usual. We're louder than other fans. Seven thousand of ours sound like 70,000 of theirs. Don't believe us? Ask the 12th man in the Vikings huddle.

Don't be surprised if there are more Saints fans outside the stadium than inside. A lot of us are coming just to say we were part of history, even if we can't witness it up close. The Saints are family to us, and you know how it is with family: We want to be there for them, whether they really need us or not. Because we know our presence will mean something to them, whether they can see us or not.

Come to think of it, seeing as how you're taking us in for the week, we pretty much regard you as family, too. So we're warning you now: If you're within hugging distance, you're fair game. Hugging strangers is a proud Who Dat tradition, right up there with crying when we win.

Most sports fans cry when their teams lose. Not us. We've been losing gracefully and with good humor for 43 years. Tragedy and disappointment don't faze us. It's success that makes us go to pieces. Hurricane Katrina? We got that under control. The Saints in the Super Bowl? SOMEBODY CALL A PARAMEDIC!!!

So anyway, don't let the tears of joy freak you out. We're just ... disoriented.

OK. Let's review: Order more beer. Throw me something, mister. Suck da heads. Wear da dress. Stand up. Get crunk. Hug it out. Protect your eardrums.

See you at the victory party.

Faithfully yours,
The Who Dat Nation

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Everyone's in the Super Bowl "spirit" here:



Interesting factoid for you history buffs:
When John Mecom, the original owner of the Saints, decided to name the franchise the "Saints" he called Archbishop Philip Hannan to make sure the Catholic community would not be offended. Archbishop Hanna assured Mr. Mecom that Catholics would not be offended. But he cautioned Mr. Mecom, "You do know that many of the saints of the Church were Martyrs."

Archbishop Hannan wrote a special prayer for the newly formed Saints football team. That was forty-three years ago. Archbishop Hannan is still alive and very active at ninety-six years of age. He just may have lived long enough to see "Hell freeze over!" when the Saints win the Super Bowl.


The Colts may have Payton Manning [a New Orleans native], but they don't have a prayer.

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Storm Warning!

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Fired Up!
In Saint James Parish [what y'all call counties] on the Mississippi River levee, it's tradition to have bon fires during the Christmas season. But this year brings another worthy special event: 



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General Silliness:
I pledge allegiance to The Saints, and to the great city of New Orleans; and to The Super Bowl, for which we will win; One city, below sea level, under God; with Mardi Gras & alcohol for all. AMEN!

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And just in case you wanna see the NFC Championship game clips one mo time for the goosebump factor, here it is.

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Now...'scuse me while I get ready for DA BLACK & GOLD SUPER BOWL!

GEAUX SAINTS!!!

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