Sunday, April 28, 2013

Did Someone Say Ghosts?


Today, I've invited Robin Leigh Morgan to the Bayou to tell us about her new book, I Kissed a Ghost, a Young Adult Novel, and about how her writing style developed.
 
For Sunday brunch, I'll be serving up some ghostly pizza and ghost cookies for the event.  
 
Go for it Robin, while I get the pizza out of the oven.
 
 
CHANGING GENRES
 
Some of us who have chosen to write fiction come from a variety of places. And by “a variety of places,” I’m not referring to a physical location; I’m referring to our writing experiences.
 
There are some of us who have enjoyed writing since we were children, and each year, by writing something in school, it improved. For some of us, it continued until we graduated college and began working. Some of us entered the work force taking jobs, which required us to write, whether it was procedures, handbooks/manuals, or news stories. But all of these are non-fiction, and each one has a set of “rules” that need to be followed to write something well enough to be acceptable.
 
As for myself, while my regular job did not require me to write, for eleven years I wrote articles [commentaries/viewpoints] of what was happening in my community and my feelings about it. When I started to write these items, my writing skills were not honed. I didn’t have my ideas organized in a tight manner, although my writing had been informative. By the time I’d written my last item, I’d become quite adept at it.
 
When I started to write fiction, I somehow drifted to writing a contemporary romance story with a paranormal element running through the storyline, but after almost 9 years I still hadn’t completed it. That is, until someone suggested I should write for a much younger audience, which is what I did, cumulating in my first YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss romance novel entitled I Kissed a Ghost.
 
Anyway, making the transition from non-fiction to fiction, I’ve had to learn a new set of rules on how to write. Most of these involved dialogue, showing not telling, where before I just told. I now had to learn about the use of tags. I had to learn not to be overly descriptive of something, but allow my reader to create the image for themselves in their minds. In the beginning I found it hard to break my old writing habits. Now I’m finding myself with these habits essentially gone. The biggest issue I still have and am trying to get a good handle on, is POV [Point of View]. Regardless of what’s happening or being said it has to be in one character’s perspective, and you can’t flip-flop between two characters within a scene. There needs to be a transition from one character to another.
 
All these things have helped me mold myself into the author I’m today. I’ve also learned there are additional rules within a genre, depending on the sub-genre you’ve decided to write in. These rules apply to the dialogue spoken, which needs to be true to the time period you’re writing in, as well as how your characters are dressed, and their titles, if any, as is the case with the regencies sub-genre of romance novels.
 
So as you can see, writing is not merely a string of words you put together. There are rules that need to be followed if you’re to be well received by your readers.  
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Robin.
 
I’m a retired NYC civil servant who has been married for 19 years with no children. We have two senior cats, a Maine Coon with diabetes, and a calico. My first YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss romance novel is entitled “I Kissed a Ghost.” For my second romance novel I’ve returned to writing the untitled Contemporary romance I wrote about in my post.
 
If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.
 
 
How can our visitors contact you or buy your book?
I Kissed a Ghost is available on Amazon.
Due to an unexpected delay the Kindle version should become available around May 13th.
If anyone would like to read several UNEDITED SNIPPETS from the book you can find under the category of “GHOSTLY WHISPERS” on any my blog sites:  
 You can also find me on:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mypennameonly               
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mypennameonly                    
Now let's have some pizza!!
 
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 homemade pizza crust (use this recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Black olives, chopped
  • Green olives
  • Rosemary leaves
Directions:

 1.     Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2.     Roll out the crust on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to about 1/4-inch thickness.

3.     Spread the pizza sauce over the crust until it's fully covered. Bake the crust for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

4.     Slice the fresh mozzarella. Using a ghost cookie cutter cut out some ghost shapes. Place the ghosts on top of the pizza sauce. Using the finely chopped olives, place eyes on the head of the ghosts. Bake the pizza for about 5 - 6 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.

5.     Once the pizza is baked, make spiders by sticking the rosemary leaves into the green olives. Place the spiders next to the ghosts and serve.
 
Now for dessert: Ghost Cookies
PREPARATION:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using about 1 tablespoon dough for body and about 1 teaspoon dough for head, form cookie dough into ghost shapes on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; place warm cookies on serving plates.
  2. While cookies are baking, combine frosting and marshmallow creme in small bowl until well blended.
  3. Frost each ghost with frosting mixture. Press 2 chocolate chips, points up, into frosting mixture to create eyes on each ghost. Decorate with additional candy, if desired.
ENJOY!!!


 
 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spanish Moss


If you’ve ever visited southern Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi or Georgia, you have seen Spanish moss eerily flowing from the trees. But what exactly is it?

Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor moss. It belongs to the pineapple family (without the fruit) and is an epiphytic herb (whatever that is). Many people believe that the moss takes its nutrients from the tree, and go to great lengths to have it removed. But unless it is so dense that it blocks the tree from needed sunlight, you don’t have to worry about it harming the tree. The moss just uses the tree as a prop. It can happily grow on fences power lines, or anywhere it can sway in the breeze and catch the moisture in the air.  

This moss has had many uses in the past, as well as the present. When processed and dried, it turns from its soft gray appearance and texture to a black, curly, tough fiber, similar to horse hair. The Native Americans and early settlers used it, among other things, to stuff mattresses or weave it into floor mats, horse blankets, and rope. They used it in house building. The rope was used to tie the framework together, and when mixed with clay, was used as a plaster. No doubt many plantations have it hidden in their walls. My mother told me that my very first crib contained a moss mattress.  

I’ve found contradicting information that moss either contains insects...so beware, or that it was used in bedding because it naturally repels insects. This requires further Googling.  

And with everything Louisiana, there has to be a legend attached, right? So here is only one of a few. I’ve seen this poem posted many places, although I’m not sure who to credit it to. 

There’s an old, old legend, that’s whispered with Southern folks
About the lacey Spanish Moss that garlands the great oaks.
A lovely princess and her love, upon their wedding day
Were struck down by a savage foe, amidst a bitter fray;
United in death they were buried, so the legend go
‘Neath an oak’s strong, friendly arms, protected from their foe
There, as was the custom, they cut the bride’s long hair with love
And hung its shining blackness on the spreading oak above;
Untouched, undisturbed it hung there, for all the world to see,
And with the years the locks turned grey and spread from tree to tree.
 

And what would any novel based in Louisiana be without the mention of Spanish moss. So, here’s a quote from my novel, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island.

As the propeller stirred up smells of rotted seaweed and dead fish, I stared out into the swamp. A cypress tree all draped in silver moss stared back at me like a crooked old woman dipping her hair into the muddy bayou. Its twisted limbs reached out to me. I shuddered.”
Whatever the stories, or whether it’s Spanish or not, I think its beauty is a sight to behold.






Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Dinner on the Bayou with Chere Cohen

Today, I'm featuring Louisiana author, Chere Cohen, and a recipe for Crawfish Bisque.


Cheré Dastugue Coen is an award-winning journalist, instructor of writing, playwright, novelist and cookbook author. A native of New Orleans, Cheré now makes her home in Lafayette, Louisiana. Her books include the cookbook travelogue Cooking in Cajun Country with “Cajun” Karl Breaux and Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets with Jude Bradley. Visit her website at www.louisianabooknews.com.
 
MAGIC'S BAG
 
New Orleans native and journalist Cheré Dastugue Coen has joined with California writer and spiritual consultant Jude Bradley to examine the history, culture and lure of gris gris or mojo bags in their book, “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets” (Llewellyn, Dec. 1, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7387-1903-0).
 
What if you could carry a prayer or spell with you all the time? With a specially crafted gris gris bag at hand, you hold the power to attract love, protection, good fortune, and anything you wish into your life.
 
“Magic’s in the Bag” is the only book that teaches you everything you need to know about creating and using gris gris bags. It takes you on a fascinating and fun exploration of the history of mojo bags and charms, from ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Celtic beliefs to early Native American and African spiritual practices to modern voodoo in New Orleans.
 
You’ll find more than 75 simple spells to empower your gris gris bag, including enchantments for beauty, fidelity, and creativity, contacting spirits, safe travel, and sweet dreams. You’ll get tips on growing your own gris gris garden. Alphabetical lists of magical correspondences for moon phases, herbs, crystals, stones, and shells make it easy to determine the best time and the optimal ingredients for making your wishes come true.
 
Exploring Cajun Country
A Tour of Historic Acadiana
 
 
Louisiana’s famous Cajun Country is a place where today’s travelers can still experience the rich heritage and traditions that began in the eighteenth century. From foodways and folk tales to music and festivals, Acadiana offers something you can’t get anywhere else. Journey through this historic and unique part of the state with travel writer and historian Cheré Coen as your guide. Experience Cajun Country through its exceptional cuisine, area events and historic attractions.
 
If you would like to schedule an interview with the author, please contact Katie Parry at 843.577.5971, ext 113 or katie.parry@historypress.net
 

Read Chere's travel blogs at:


 
Now for dinner!!!! Crawfish Bisque, from Don's Seafood
 
 
 
1 garlic clove (minced)
1c green onions (chopped)
2 white onions (chopped)
1 bell pepper (chopped)
... ½ stick unsalted butter 
1 fresh jalapeno pepper (chopped)
2 celery stalks (chopped)
¼ c fresh parsley (chopped)
3 lb. fresh Louisiana crawfish tails (with fat)
DON’S All Purpose Seasoning to taste
Red pepper to taste
1/4 c oil
1/4 c flour
1 qt water
19"X 13" pan cooked cornbread (crumbled)
2 eggs (beaten)
 
 
In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat add butter, garlic, green onions, white onions, bell pepper, jalapeno, parsley and celery. Cook until translucent (4-6 min.). Add crawfish tails, DON’S All Purpose Seasoning and pepper to taste. Cook until crawfish tails are tender (3-4 min.). In a large Dutch oven, add oil and flour to create a roux. Stir constantly until dark brown. Slowly add water and ½ of vegetables and tail mixture to roux. Simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes. In a separate medium mixing bowl, add remaining vegetables and tail mixture, eggs and cornbread. Mix well. Spoon stuffing mixture into crawfish heads and drop into bisque. Cook for an additional 4-6 minutes. (If crawfish heads are not available, spoon stuffing into tablespoon – size balls, roll in bread crumbs and bake until brown at 400°, then drop into bisque. Enjoy!

DON'S SEAFOOD Cajun Since 1934 - LIKE US & FOLLOW US on  Facebook
 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Legend of Ghost Dog Island

Sweet Saturday Samples

A Sample from The Legend of Ghost Dog Island. A Middle Grade Mystery...

Mama closed the door behind her. She knew once Papa got going on one of his tales, there was no stopping him.

The last traces of daylight seemed to disappear in a hurry, as if Papa had ordered it away. The glass globe of the kerosene lamp clinked. He touched a match to the wick and adjusted the flame until it filled the room with pale light and gray shadows. He motioned me to sit next to him on the worn sofa.

I hurried to his side, not knowing what spooky legend he was going to tell this time. But as scared as I’d get, I always enjoyed hearing ’em.

Mais, there’s a legend told around these parts.” That was how they always started out. He leaned down so the light from the lamp made eerie shadows across his face.

I rolled my eyes, determined not to get spooked this time.

“Folks say there’s something living out yonder,” he went on. “Legend has it the monster lures dogs to the island using evil spells. Then at the peak of the full moon, they’re turned into hollow spirits with glowing eyes.” Papa put on his eeriest sneer. “That there’s Ghost Dog Island.”

“Ghost dogs?” I pulled my knees up against my chest and wrapped my arms around ’em tight. My mind conjured up images of a huge monster with drippy fangs and dogs with bright yellow eyes. I thought about the feeling I had of something watching us. Was there really a creature out there? Did it have its eye on my best buddy? I shuddered.

IEEEOWWWOOOO-oooooooo! The howling sound echoed again across the bayou.
 
 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Rougarou

While searching for stories about the rougarou, I came across this article by DS Duby and thought I'd share. You can read more of his legend stories at http://dsduby.hubpages.com/
In my book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, ten year old Nikki Landry hears a howling sound coming from a nearby swamp island and wonders if it is the dreaded rougarou her papa has warned her about. What is a rougarou?  Read on...

The Rougarou - Southern Louisiana

The legends of the rougarou, or loup-garou, have been passed down from generation to generation as long as Louisiana has been inhabited by modern man. The rougarou are closely related to the European version of the werewolf, but has a few very distinct differences from the wolf men seen in movies and on television.

Wolves are not native to Louisiana, so many times the beast in the story is replaced with other animals such as dogs, pigs or cattle, and generally appear as being pale white in color. As the story goes, the rougarou will wander the streets at night searching for a savior amongst the crowds of people. It will run through and cause havoc to each individual until somebody eventually shoots or stabs the creature.



With the first drop of blood drawn in the dying blow the beast will then turn back into a man and reveal to its attacker his true name. This legend is said to usually happen within the smallest of towns in Louisiana, because of this the rougarou is often already known by its killer. Before the dying man takes his last breath of life he will warn his savior that he can not mention a word of the incident to anyone for one full year, or he too will suffer the same fate, and become the rougarou.

Parents are often known to spin the tales of the rougarou to children who misbehave, warning them that if they don't straighten up they will be visited by the rougarou in their bed come nightfall. One account tells of a boy who encountered the beast while on his way home from a night out with friends. As the boy was walking along a large white dog was following behind nipping at his heels and antagonizing the boy to attack. Finally out of annoyance and slight anger the boy took out his knife and slashed the dog open, at that point the beast then turned back into a man.
In this case, the rougarou told the boy how he had sold his soul to the devil to gain prosperity, but was tricked by Satan and changed into the beast instead. As the curse seems to demand, he then warned the boy of the penalty of mentioning the events that had taken place, but the boy just couldn't resist.

After repeating the story to several friends the boy started to disappear from his room at night and none of his friends of family could find him anywhere until the following morning, at which point he would appear back in his room with no explanation to where he had been.

This went on for about a year, until one morning his body was found laying in the street. The police claimed it was most likely suicide, but friends and family of the boy knew that there would soon be a new rougarou roaming the streets. Anyone who has ever lived in a small town knows that no story can be kept secret for long, not even the tale of the rougarou.

Saturday, April 6, 2013