Beast Butler in New Orleans

The Battleground Ground Louisiana series that I will be the facilitator for in Winnsboro, Louisiana, begins in Ferbruary. One of the books I’ll be using is When the Devil Came Down to Dixie: Ben Butler in New Orleans, written by Chester G. Hearn. General Butler is one of the most vilified individuals in the Civil War. He is known as a brazen opportunist, a bungling administrator, and a cruel despot. The Southern women of New Orleans particularly disliked him, and he and his Federal officers were met with insults, spit, and even dumped chamber pots from balcony windows. Women who played piano would only play rebel tunes when a Yankee passed their house. Butler was incensed, so he issued the infamous Order 28, which read:

As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall by word, gesture, or movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.

This decree only worsened the feelings of New Orleans women for him and his staff in occupied New Orleans. As Hearn correctly points out, in the South, nothing was more sacred than the honor of a woman. Photographs of Butler were distributed through the city and pasted to the bottom of tinkle-pots. You can see a photograph of one of these chamber pots here: http://www3.flickr.com/photos/deepfriedkudzu/sets/72057594060734949/.

Butler well deserved the nickname given him: Beast Butler.

Lee-Jackson Banquet January 27, 2007

Tonight, I was the guest speaker for the 7th annual Lee-Jackson Banquet of the J.J. Alfred A. Mouton Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The theme was “Our Southern Heroes, ” so my speech was centered on Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson as such. Before I delivered my speech, I played my guitar and sang some Southern tunes. After the speech, I sold and autographed copies of my book, Stories of the Confederate South. It was not a great night for sales, but it was not a bad one either. The banquet was held at the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant in Washington, Louisiana. (A city rich in history!)

Overall, I was pleased and thought the evening worth my time and effort. The food was great, and I had an attentive aned receptive audience. What more could a speaker want? If you’d like a copy of my speech, I’ll be happy to send it to you as a Word attachment. Just write me at

Walkabout: A Novel

As a 7th and 8th grade gifted reading teacher and in high school as well, I introduce my students to a fine young adult novel, Walkabout, written by James Vance Marshall. It is a fine book to use to teach my students about Australian and Aborigine cultures. The book is generally well-received by the students, a sign to me that the book has dynamics that work with young readers. I teach the book as part of an Australian unit, integrating geography, history, unique vocabulary, botany, and wildlife.

Miami Noir

I’ve just finished reading a collection of short fiction entitled, Miami Noir, edited by Les Standiford. Sixteen excellent fiction writers contributed their stories, all set in Miami.

Authors I Met at Pulpwood Queens Weekend

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to write some more about the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend. In this one, I wanted to focus on the authors I met whose books I found interesting. (Like I don’t already have a long enough reading list!)

All of these authors were witty, intense, and extremely interesting. I met Michael Morris, author of The King of Florabama (a very famous honky tonk); Elizabeth Crook, author of The Night Journal; Carolyn Turgeron, author of Rain Village, DC Stanfa, author of The Art of Table Dancing: Escapades of of an Irreverant Woman; Susan Reinhardt, author of Not Tonight Honey, Wait Until I’m a Size Six; Ruth Francisco, author of The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; and Margaret Sartor, author of Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Sex, Secrets, and Growing Up in the 1970’s. Everyone in Monroe who is a reader has read her book, since it was set in our own beloved city. I also finally met David Marion Wilkinson, author of Not Between Brothers. I had talked to Wilkinson on the phone a few years ago, and he guided me in my research somewhat by steering me toward how to obtain a couple of Comanche dictionaries. He was also very encouraging. I like successful writers like him who are generous and encouraging to aspiring writers like myself.

There were other writers I met during this packed weekend, but I spent the most time with these. I only wish I could have weekends like this more often.

Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend 2007

I just returned from Kathy Patrick’s Girlfriend Weekend, held at the Marshall, a historic and restored hotel in Marshall, Texas. Kathy, who has been a friend for a few years now, was kind enough to invite me and allow me to promote my newest book, Stories of the Confederate South. Truly, this was one of the best weekends of my life. I’m going to have a few entries on this event, but in short summary: I met many of the coolest authors I’ve ever met; made a list of books to read, a list probably longer than I can get to in the next year; made new friends, ran into old friends, set up future speaking and reading engagements, and learned much about writing.

Saturday, the first full day of the conference, I sold and signed books from my assigned table and heard many fine writer speeches from where I was sitting. While in my corner, I met many of the Pulp Wood Queens, some of whom remembered me from my first visit to Kathy Patrick’s Girlfriend Weekend a few years ago. That night, I went to the Pulpwood Queen’s “Hair Ball.” It was a costume affair held at Marshall Visual Arts Center, and of course I went as a Confederate soldier. I was very fortunate: A most beautiful girl was there in a Southern Belle dress, and of course, as I was the only Confederate soldier present, we danced together. Lucky me! I’ll post the link so you can see the photos taken of the ball. Those who came to the ball really got into the theme: “The Pulpwood Queens Go Hollywood.” Some really funny and some really eye-popping sexy costumes (including the Scarlet I danced with) were seen.

This was a great event–promoting authors, promoting literacy, promoting books, and greatly inspiring to me as a writer. The Dallas Morning News, Southern Living, the Marshall News Messenger, and many other media were there. If only I could attend something like this every week. Life would be good.

Importance of Spelling

As a writer I’ve learned –sometimes the hard way–that spelling is important. The gifted students I teach often don’t think spelling is important in the picture of creation, and maybe they’re right on that. Yet, I do try to stress the importance of spelling correctly, especially in the editing process.

As a writer, misspelled words come back to haunt you. I met one writer, whose first book had a major misspelling in the first sentence on the first page. It was an embarassment to be sure. I appreciate my friends who read my work–some of them are real spelling Nazis. If it’s misspelled, they will catch it.

Coulrophobia

I’ve been thinking of writing horror a good bit. More than once, when I’ve talked to students about writing horror, the topic of their fear of clowns arises. The technical word for this phobia is coulrophobia. The word, as well as many articles on the topic of “why” we are frightened of clowns is all over the net. I found one really good article on the topic of coulrophobia