Sunday, December 18, 2011


This Christmas season I am reminded of family and what makes us who we are.

I have spent almost half my life doing family research. I have come to learn so much about the people that made me who I am.

My family came to this country from Canada, France, Spain, Sweden, and Italy to make a life in this country and, by the grace of God, ended up in Louisiana. Some came by force and some by choice. They struggled to overcome many odds. They had many children, and lost many children. They built land out of swamps and fought the hurricanes that bombarded the gulf coast seasonally like clockwork. They fished the bayous and grew sugarcane. They sold vegetables on the streets of New Orleans. They plucked, shucked, and sold oysters from the gulf.

A family structure can be strong…or weak. I am glad to be part of a family that is Cajun strong. God bless my family. I would not be what I am without all that came before. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Swamp Folk

Just got back from Pierre Part, Louisiana visiting my brother and his wife. Ran into Troy Landry, from the Swamp People series on History Channel, at the local gas station. CHOOT EM!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ellabug by Gregory Turner-Rahman

Bayou Ellabug and her cousin, Gerard the Gator
I am please to welcome Ellabug to Tales from the Bayou.  She visits us today riding on the back of her cousin, Gerard the Gator. Hello Ellabug!!!!

Don't you just love the picture her creator, Gregory Turner-Rahman did especially for her visit to my blog? I am so honored.

Ahem.  So, now what she came here for...a stop on her blog tour.

About Ellabug:  Ellabug is a delightful picture book story of a very lovable young ladybug, Ellabug, who lives with a diverse family—VERY diverse. Her dad’s a rat and her mother’s a chipmunk. All of her relatives seem to be of a different species from her.

 As Ellabug wonders about other families and wanders off to explore them, she finds a colony of ants. They are all alike. But being alike isn’t all there is to being in a happy family. Ellabug realizes that she wants to go back home, but where is she? Will Ellabug find her way home?

Gregory Turner-Rahman has done a wonderful job of both writing in rhyme and creating the beautiful illustrations for this book.

See Ellabug's video:

About Gregory: Gregory Turner-Rahman is currently a professor at the University of Idaho and teaches history, how to create art on a computer, and how to think and communicate visually.

Hello Greg and welcome to my blog. I have a few questions for you that our visitors might like to know.

Where did you come up with the idea for Ellabug, especially her unusual family?

I made up Ellabug when my eldest daughter was very young. We’d read together every night. Actually, we still do – it’s always the best part of my day! She's a teenager now so she probably won't admit to this but when she was small she too loved that time together and wouldn’t want to go to bed. She would try to delay the inevitable by asking me to tell her a story. Ellabug was one of the more polished creations.

This story resonated because my daughter had entered daycare and we began to worry that she saw herself as different from the other kids. We are a multi-racial and multi-cultural family and she started to notice this at very early age. I thought the multi-animal family would be a fun way to talk about the issue to younger kids.

The story revolves around Ellabug’s family and its uniqueness so there is not a lot of action for a big part of the book – it’s a protracted introduction to the characters that surround her. Subsequently, I worked to make it interesting and all the animals truly individuals. Each one is meant to be scruffy and loveable like a well-loved stuffed animal.

I had so much fun creating the family I wanted to use the sketches from initial versions of family members in the final book. I thought about having the pictures of the extended family on the walls of Ellabug's house or as the endpapers (see below). In the end, it seemed like overkill. Although, I must say, I really love the duck with the combover.

Do you have any other books out that we might be able to check out?

Not just yet. Ellabug was my first publication. I do have several new stories in the works. I am starting the drawings for a story called Mike? that also addresses the issue of identity but in a very different way. Keep an eye out for it.

I see you did the art as well as the story. Which came first?

The story really did come first. For me it has to. It gives direction for the artwork. If I get too far along without having resolved the story then both sides of my brain claim dominion over the project. If the story is done, the left brain can relax and feel chuffed while the right brain struts its stuff.

Why did you decide to write Ellabug as a rhyming picture book?

Ok, so you know I created these stories for my daughter - what I am not telling you is that I was really awful at doing it. I couldn’t conjure them up on the spot. So, I’d often squirrel myself away and think up a quick little synopsis for the next night’s story. Ellabug was probably one of the first and it rhymes so that I could remember it. It worked so well that some 7 years later I was able to put it on paper.

Would you like to ask our visitors a question?

Is it important for a children’s book to have a message?

Please leave a comment for Greg or just say hello!

Purchase Ellabug or learn more about Ellabug and Gregory Turner-Rahman at:
Ellabug is published by Diversion Press

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pierre Part, Louisiana

Pierre Part is the setting for my children's Middle Grade fiction, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island.

Pierre Part was founded by Acadian French settlers after the Great Upheaval of 1755, during which much of the French population of Acadia was expelled by its British conquerors. The town remained isolated from most of the world since it is surrounded by water and was not accessible by land until the mid twentieth century. Before the Great Depression the inhabitants of Pierre Part were fisherman. After the Great Depression many men of the town were forced to find work in other fields including logging, levee building, and the growing petroleum industry in Louisiana. Fewer people continue the traditional ways of fishing and living off the land with each generation.

The people of Pierre Part are predominantly of French ancestry, of families who either came directly from France or those who came from Canada (Acadia), and before that, France. Until the early- to mid-twentieth century the people almost exclusively spoke Cajun French at home. This caused the people of Pierre Part and the rest of the Cajun community to labeled as "backwards" or "ignorant" by outsiders, and in many cases from the 1910s to the 1970s, students whose first language was French were punished corporally in school for speaking it. By the 1970s onward extremely few children were taught Cajun French as a first language since the previous generations were taught to be ashamed of their heritage. In the 1990s an effort was made to reintroduce French into the school systems. This became somewhat controversial as the French taught in school was not Cajun French. Many of the teachers brought in were Belgian, French, and Canadian who taught their own dialect of French. However, there are still many who contend that the "Standard French" taught in French Immersion classes at Pierre Part Elementary School is the best chance that local Cajuns have at preserving their language and culture, since there is no written standard for teaching the Cajun dialect of the French language. In 2010 the show Swamp People started recording their show here.

Article facts taken from Wikipedia 4/2/11,_Louisiana

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writing a Synopsis

anxieties,business,businesspeople,businesswomen,deadlines,emotions,females,paperwork,people,people at work,persons,stress,time management,times,women,worriesRecently I had to write a synopsis for a critique. I spent three grueling days trying to narrow down a complete novel into one page. I am posting something I found while googling "how to write a synopsis" that I found helpful. Thought I'd share.

A Basic Guide to Writing Synopses

By Theresa Rizzo 2007

A synopsis is a brief summary of the novel that provides key information about the characters, plot and conflict.

· It is almost always written in third person, present tense.

· Do not justify the right margin.

· Use 1" margins on all sides.

· It is common to type a character's name in all caps—or to bold it, the first time he or she is introduced.

· In the synopsis tell the whole story, hitting the essential plot points—including the ending.

· Most agents and editors prefer a fiction synopsis about 2-3 pages double-spaced these days.

· The greatest challenge is to write as cleanly and as tightly as possible, using powerful verbs and few adverb and adjectives.

· Contrary to novel writing, in a synopsis you tell rather than show.

· It’s written as one long unified narrative.

· Use no dialogue.

· Do not include subplots in a very short synopsis.

· Move smoothly from one event to another.

· Weave characterization into the action.

· Be sure to include characters' motivations.

· The tone/style of writing in the synopsis should reflect the tone/style of the book.

I typically start with a premise—or log line. A two sentence little blurb to hook the agent/editor, introduce the main plot, key conflict, and characters, then progress by introducing the main character, what her goal is and why she can’t immediately attain it (conflict). Then we move into the action of the story, but while hitting the highlights of the plot, it’s important to remember to tell the motivation and how the protagonist feels about and is affected by the things that happen in the story.

Do you have any synopsis nightmares or helpful stories to share?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Daylight Savings Time

Tomorrow morning at 2 a.m. it’s time again to turn our clocks ahead an hour…or to Spring Ahead. This happens the second Sunday in March every year. But did you ever ask yourself when we started doing this, and why?

When did it all start?

It seems Benjamin Franklin proposed the idea, while minister of France, when he wrote an essay in 1784 entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.” It would be during World War I when the United States would adopt it—but then repeal it when the war ended. It was reinstated again during World War II. But the states couldn’t agree on whether they wanted it, and when to start and end it. It was in 1966, when Congress finally enacted the Uniform Time Act, which decreed that if a state chose to opt in for daylight saving, it had to be the same time as everyone else. Currently in the U.S., Hawaii, most of Arizona, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Island opt out on daylight savings.

But why should we have it?

The hope is to save energy and use more natural light, although it not proven that the results have been substantial.

Why does it start at 2 a.m. on a Sunday?

It turns out that studies have shown that it is the least disruptive time and day to make the change—when most people are asleep and do not have to get up early Sunday morning for work.

When does the time change back?

This year, the clocks will return to normal, causing us to gain an extra hour, on Sunday, November 6, and you guessed it, at 2 a.m.

Whether you like daylight savings or hate it, get out there and enjoy the extra hour of light…according to your clock that is.

For me, the extra daylight makes me want to be out working in my garden until all hours, forgetting that I need to work on my manuscript.

How does daylight savings time affect you? Do you hate it or love it?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras.

Call it what you will, but it all means one thing: PARTY! This annual event marks the last day before Lent begins, when Catholics traditionally "give up" a habit or vice.

In New Orleans, as well as a few other cities in the south, Mardi Gras is a full-out celebration, with a huge parade, parties, and more food than you could ever imagine. “Throw me something, mister!!!” But, whether you plan to give anything up for Lent or not, for most people in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is an excuse to just live it up!

How do you plan to celebrate this Fat Tuesday?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Hurricane

When a hurricane comes into your life and leaves with all you own but the clothes on your back, you remember her name…for the rest of your life.

Mine was Audrey. She came to Cameron, Louisiana in June of 1957 and left with over 500 souls. Luckily, she left mine and my family’s intact to live to face another storm. But none would match the scars she left on my young life. She took my home. She took my toys. But worst of all, she took all of our family photos and keepsakes. My father, who was a fisherman, had to get a job in New Orleans; my mother had to go to work. Our family got spit up, me staying with my grandmother, my brothers and sister gone to different relatives…for months until our family could reunite again in a small one room shack my dad built. For years after, and even today, folks that lived in Southwest Louisiana during 1957, measure time by using the terms before or after “the hurricane.” They all remember Audrey.
I know the children that lived through Katrina will remember her name as long as they live, and remember what she took away from them. Those that survived her wrath, will always measure time with before or after THE hurricane.

Has there been an event in your life that has left a permanent impression?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Interview with KC Frantzen, children's author

Tennessee author KC Frantzen is launching her debut middle grade children’s book, May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy in the summer of 2011, through RushJoy Press. She is available for author visits to your group or school.  May on the Way is for children ages 7 and up, and animal lovers of all ages.

Me: Tell us a little about you, KC. How long have you been writing? And what inspired you to write a children’s story?

KC: I've always spoken “critter,” since Dad is a veterinarian. I started writing in elementary school and even won the school-wide contest with a story on deep sea fishing. But though I kept writing, it was mostly just for fun.

In the early 2000's, I wanted to get serious and searched for an academic course to help me. I found it! Upon completion of the Apprentice Level of the Christian Writers Guild (CWG) course, I knew I wanted to write a book. But life intervened and I didn't quite get around to it then.

Though we only have four-footed children, I thoroughly enjoy the two-footed variety. I taught 5th grade once upon a time and continue to be interested in children's issues. I've been concerned about children's literature and its underlying "agenda" since the 1970's. I'll never forget a story about a young colt that needed assistance to stand. The owners were going to put it down, but after much pleading from the child, put braces put on its legs. Long and short of it, not only did the pony die (the child saw the carcass atop a trash heap, braces still on its legs) but the real kicker was the father lied to the child. We read it in junior high school (7-9th grades) and I ran out of school SOBBING. What an awful awful story for kids. Shudder.

What ever happened to a good story just for the sake of a good story? Something with redeeming values and respect for the founding principles of our country? Something with moral absolutes, i.e., there really truly is evil, there really truly is good? Something parents can read aloud with their children or feel comfortable letting the child read on his own?

Today, these seem few and far between. Some will think I have my own agenda. Perhaps I do! Kids need to know that all is not hopeless and dark and dystopian, with gore and crassness. There is hope and laughter and light, even in the tough times. That wayyy more often than not, parents are not the enemy. And that good guys (and K9's) DO win. 

Me: Tell us more about May and how she came to have her own book?

KC: Ah! Our May! Well, much of the story happened in real life. I admire the spunk of this little dog who lived a meaningless, hopeless life in a crate. She has much to teach all of us, especially those who are in or have been in an abusive situation. She is amazing. And quite honestly, this is a story God wants me to tell. That might sound hokey to some, but the story used to wake me up at night, "Write me… Write me…" and still does!

Me: What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome in completing this story? And how long did it take?

KC: I'm not an overly organized person, nor am I a good time manager. Life goes on and the world cannot stop for me to sit and write for hours on end. So, I'd say the issue of time, and feeling like I couldn't tell it like it needed to be told. External and internal conflict, as I've learned, is necessary in a great story!

I started in March, 2007, though the seed was planted during the CWG course. One of my great mentors, Sandra Byrd, complimented a particular lesson in which May was the protagonist. (What might be humorous to some perhaps, is that I never made it to that scene in this book. So… stay tuned!)

The other major obstacle was deciding whether to go the traditional publishing route or not. After much thought and prayer, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and form our own small publishing house. It's been a great learning process and one of the joys has been finding an amazing illustrator for May's story.

We asked around, looked at portfolios and reviewed information from the professional organization to which you and I belong – The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Enter Taillefer Long from Charleston, SC!

Taillefer is a pleasure to work with, I think partly because he is also a writer. His initial sketches for May On The Way were spot on. He is now creating all the illustrations which we should have finalized within the next month or so. He is also designing the book cover and laying out its pages. We are quite pleased to have found him.

We are also working on gift packs. We have partnered with a wonderful dog treat company and we are working on plush toys and other items.

Me: Do you have plans for a sequel? Any other new books we can look forward to reading?

KC: Thank you for asking! Yes! Must get that scene in somewhere! May will continue her training and chase the bad guys. She's a K9 spy, after all, prone to get herself into all sorts of predicaments and adventures.

Me: Do you have any advice for new children’s book writers?

I'm not the one to ask. This is my first crack at it! But I'll share things others have told me.

LEARN all you can, anywhere you can. That includes reading in and outside of your own genre.

WRITE. Put pen to paper or fingers on keys! The only way to get better is to write. Why? Because it will be pretty awful when you first put it down. The genius comes in the revision(s). I'm NOT saying my work is genius, but after LITERALLY over 100 revisions, it's a lot better than it was at the get-go.

GET HELP. I hired Sandra as my writing coach last summer. After review, she suggested I completely rewrite the story. Every last bit of it… All in May's point of view. So anything that happens must be something she thinks, sees, hears, feels. Nothing happens otherwise. It's one of the most difficult things I've ever done, but so worth it… (Now that I'm done… ) Seek out other writers who are ahead of you in the craft and be respectful of their time. Help others who are struggling like you are. It's amazing the synergy that happens when a group of writers gets into a room to help one another. Find a good critique partner or group. (Thank YOU, Rita!!)

PRACTICE HUMILITY. This is good anytime, but especially when you write. You put yourself "out there" and you need to know that barbs and criticism will hit from the most unlikely places. Don't be blindsided. They are coming! Try to be objective, hear what was said, and decide if you need to make changes or if you want to stick with what you have. For myself, many times I needed to make the change.

PRAY. I'm a Christian who is a writer. God has given ME this story to tell. Like a wonderful Romantic Suspense writer at prays, "Lord, inspire me to write stories that touch reader's hearts. Breathe your spirit into my characters so they come alive on the written page. Help me develop intriguing plots full of twists and turns that capture the imagination and move the story to a satisfying resolution. Keep me focused and on schedule and take away any fear or sense of inadequacy that blocks my progress. Give me courage to step out in faith, to stretch and grow, and to be the writer you have called me to be."

That says it!

Thank you for inviting me. I'm very grateful for the opportunity and welcome comments and suggestions from your readers. And if I can help in any way, please let me know! We're in this together!

If the venue is fairly close, both May and I will be available for author talks and book signings. Just let me know and we'll work out the schedule! We (or I) would adore to speak to your group!

PS: Practicing her manners, May sends her BEST greetings. She thanks you for considering her book for the children (and animal lovers) in your life. How would you like your copy paw-o-graphed?

For more information on KC or May, visit their web site at

Monday, January 31, 2011

Paying it Forward

Following the lead of fellow writer, Shelli Johannes-Wells, I am paying forward the opportunity Shelli has offered on her blog.

I would like to thank my fellow crittters for all their help with my manuscript, including KC Frantzen, author of May on the Way.  See her web site at:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I have a Dream

As I watch the “I have a dream” speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, I wonder what I could say to enhance his dream.

"All God's Children." There is no way to say that better than he did.

But, I have a dream that people will no longer be classified by race.

We have come a long, long way, but equality will never happen until we can see that we all are more alike than we are different.

  It is human nature to want to belong to a certain group, a culture, that one can identify with.  But, when all that is seen is “differences,” racism will fester.
We clung together as Americans—and nothing more—during and after the attack of 9/11. That should be the norm, not the exception.

My ancestors (Acadians) were forced here by the British after their property and land in Nova Scotia was taken. They were abused, raped, separated from their families, and many sent to the American colonies to work as indentured servants (slaves that had to work for years to obtain their freedom). We lovingly call ourselves Cajuns and embrace that culture, but we are Americans! Our ancestors forceably left their homelands, but became part of the new land that they helped build.

When I fill out a form that wants my race, I simply choose "other."  Because no form can accurately account for the multitude of races that have come together to make me who I am today.

Let’s realize the great Martin Luther King’s dream fully, by making us all simply Americans!