Sunday, December 18, 2011

Family


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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-U48dm2Zt4-Rahman

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:
http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-Turner-Rahman/e/B003I2B71I
Ellabug is published by Diversion Press
http://www.diversionpress.com/home

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
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Part,_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.

Basics:
· 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?

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.

http://faeriality.blogspot.com/2011/01/need-agent-pay-it-forward-contest.html

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: http://www.maythek9spy.com/

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!