To Ocean Springs

My daughter, her husband, and my grandson, live in Ocean Springs Mississippi. That’s where I’ll be spending Thanksgiving Day, and I’ll be leaving in just a little while. I like the area; it looks prosperous in spite of it being hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. It has an older history than I expected, with the French establishing a settlement there around 1699. It seems to be an artsy sort of area, and that appeals to me. I hope I have time to drive around and check out the area, and if so I’ll try to post my observations on this blog. You can read more of the history (and other things) of Ocean Springs here:

Have a blessed holiday. I wish you love, health, and happiness.

Day Before Thanksgiving

My short story collection of historical fiction, Stories of the Confederate South, is now available from Pelican! I just received my author copies.  This means the book will be available from the Pelican, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Books-A-Million Websites soon! Once again, I give thanks!

This is my second full week of not smoking. Economically, that means I’ve saved at least $60.00 of money I would have spent before. I’ve already quit coughing at night, and I seem to have more energy in the day. Could be because I have more oxygen in my lungs. I must conduct some research regarding the benefits of quitting smoking. The main reason I did was to help my singing, as it’s obvious that my guitar playing and singing are two major attractions of the programs I do at schools.

In spite of this very busy schedule, I am somehow finding time to write. Today, I’ve mailed to my publisher my newest children’s manuscript. I’ll post the results of that query/submission as soon as I know them. If all goes well and as planned, I should have seven books in print by this time next year. I know this first year in my writing business will be brutal, but at least I can know that the first year is the hardest. I’ve also been working the phone today, verifying my signing sites. Though I’ll dutifully spend Thanksgiving Day at my daughter’s, the rest of the weekend is packed with signings:

Friday Nov. 23: Sam’s Club Slidell, Louisiana: 11 am – 1 pm (Busiest shopping day of the year!)

2 pm – 4 pm Sam’s Club, Gulfport, MS.

Saturday Nov. 24: Sam’s Club, Kenner, Louisiana (This is a rescheduled event because they couldn’t find my books the last time!) 9 am-12:00

2 pm – 4 pm. Sam’s Club, Harvey, Louisiana.

We owe the modern practice of Thanksgiving as a National Holiday to Abraham Lincoln, 1863. Here is a link where you can see his Presidential Proclamation regarding Thanksgiving.

Moody Monday

Remember that song, “Rainy Days and Mondays” always get me down? As I look out my  window from where I’m typing, the gray bleakness of the weather and the fact of Monday depress me. Grading papers since 5:00 a.m. hasn’t helped my mood. However, to brighten my perspective, I reviewed a sight I found some time ago devoted to new office slang. I’m writing a modern version of Orwell’s Animal Farm that is set in the modern business world (one of my many projects I intend to finish this year), and I intend to use many of these phrases in the play.  You can check out the site here:   If you’re in need of a chuckle, some of these definitions will help. Here are a few of my favorites that I (or my friends) can relate to:

Starter marriage: A short-lived marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property, and no regrets.

Mouse potato: The online generation’s version of a couch potato.

Yuppie Food Coupons: Twenty-dollar bills from an ATM.

Dead Tree Edition: Printed, paper version of an electronic form.

Good Job: A “get-out-of-debt” job. A well-paying job people take in order to pay off their debts, one that they will quit as soon as they are solvent again.

There are many more worth looking at, but perhaps these will pique your interest.

Return from Mobile, Thanksgiving Week

Well, both Barnes and Nobles were sell-outs. Again, through the people I’m meeting, I find serendipity is knocking at my door.  I can’t say much about it, but a publishing opportunity for some Civil War music/songs in a book form has come my way through someone I met who works for a music publishing company. I also have nearly finished my next children’s book, The Little Confederate’s Night Before Christmas.
I absolutely love Mobile. I’ll have another weekend there schedule in the near future at the three Books-A-Million in the area (one in Daphne and two on Airport Road in Mobile) as  soon as they work out this little fluke of their not receiving my books with their distributing company.  I’m SURE it is a clerical error of some kind, but it shouldn’t happen, ESPECIALLY with my books!

The Barnes and Noble in Spanish Fort was a wonderful experience. Not only did I sign and sell all the books of mine the store had, at least three times I played my guitar and read stories for the many children present for Story Time.  Spanish Fort is a suburb (I guess) of Mobile. The Barnes and Noble store is located in a huge mall/shopping center that is beautiful. There were tons of people, and the weather was perfect.  Driving home, I saw the moon hanging  like a sad memory over the bay, and I changed my route going home so I could see some neighborhoods and drive by the university. (I did meet several students from the university).  I also stopped by the BAM on Airport Road where the General Manager works so they could meet me. Today will be the usual Sunday, with time spent preparing for the university Monday. This Wednesday, we’re going to my daughter’s house for Thanksgiving. I’ll stay on after Thanksgiving because Friday I have Sam’s Club signings in Slidell, LA and Gulfport, MS; and Saturday in Harvey, Louisiana (New Orleans area) and then I’ll return home late again Saturday night. Busy week for sure. I’m getting to know those Mississippi highways.

Mobile, Alabama

I had another sell-out at the Barnes and Noble in Mobile on Airport. I arrived there a little before noon and left a little after 8 pm. It was a fun, but long, day, and I met lots of cool people. I checked into an Econo Lodge off Airport Road when I left. Am very tired. Another busy signing day tomorrow at the Barnes and Noble at Spanish Fort, then the long drive back to Monroe. Here is Holly, a teacher, and a new friend who purchased my book. I’ve talked to so many people today that my head is spinning.  But oh, it looks like I’m going to be interviewed on NPR soon!


Love in the Time of Cholera: Bitter Almonds

Today, I’ve had a busy day of writing, writing-business related work, and home chores. The two BAM signings in Mobile will have to be rescheduled. However, the two Barnes and Noble stores (Mobile and Spanish Fort) are still on for Friday and Saturday.

After my supper, (a deer roast, potatoes, carrots, which I prepared with my own little hands) I sat down and began reading Gabriel García Márquez ‘ Love in the Time of Cholera.  I saw an HBO behind the scenes episode about the making of the movie version of it and decided I must read it before I see the movie.  I know I’m in for a good read when the first sentence hooks me: “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.” The sentence intrigued, but it also puzzled me. I asked myself, “What do bitter almonds have to do with love?” Well, the context makes it clear that the narrator is speaking of cyanide, which I found out from a quick Google search, is made from bitter almonds. I learned that the trees of sweet almonds have a white flower (those are the ones we eat) and the bitter almonds have a pink flower (these are the ones you take for unrequited love.)

The back cover of the novel I purchased summarizes the story thus: “In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love, When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic.  As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs—yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty-one years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.”

I am sure I have much more to learn as I read this novel. When I finish, I’ll post something in my blog about it, probably including some good quotes from the text, or poems that the read inspired. Actually, I’ve already started a poem called Bitter Almonds, and the tone of the poem should fit Marquez’ novel quite well.  As I’m leaving EARLY in the morning for Mobile, a post on my blog will not be likely till late Saturday or Sunday. Still, one never knows. I may sell out early and have plenty of time. The Barnes and Noble in Mobile also wants me to play my guitar some, as well as sign books. Wish me luck.

Good News and Bad News Day

I’ll start with the bad news. On a hunch, I called the Daphne, AL Books-A-Million to make sure my books were in. They weren’t, even though the manager ordered them over a month ago and they are for sure in their warehouse. It looks like I won’t have enough time to salvage the Daphne, but I have the BAM and Pelican folks both working on it, so maybe I can pull it off, or at least keep the Mobile BAM for Sunday. I’ll know something more by this afternoon I’m sure. If it doesn’t work out I can reschedule the Daphne BAM I suppose, since I love Mobile so much it would not be a hardship.  Though I know these little hindrances and frustrations are a part of life, I STILL HATE THEM!

Good News: My book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House is in the bookstore and giftshop of the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum! This is a major coup. This Cyclorama is advertised as the largest painting in the world, and since 1893 is the longest running show in the country!  Lots of traffic there, so sales should be good. As I’ve mentioned before, I intend on getting to Atlanta for a week or two of signings there. The Cyclorama’sWebsite is here:

Preparing for Mobile

Last night, I went to the SCV meeting in West Monroe. We had one of the best programs I’ve ever seen at a camp meeting. A member had brought a DVD, made from an old film, of the 1914 Reunion of Confederate Veterans in Jacksonville, FL. (In those days, I think the film industry was big in that area). At this event, over 48,000 actual Confederate veterans gathered. Of course, by this time they youngest would have been in his 60’s. That must have been quite an event. A huge crowd came to support the event. Amazing, absolutely amazing. I wonder if my Confederate ancestor made it to that or similar events. I think I’ll have to write a poem about this film and that time and place in history.

Today will be spent getting ready for my Mobile book-signing marathon. Four grueling days await me, full of nothing but driving and talking about my books. Of course, I also have the university today and a few chores. I also hope to do some writing. Yesterday, I booked a couple of more schools where I will present my program, and I also worked on some more songs. I love mythology and try to incorporate it into my teaching and my writing often. My students have always been fascinated by dragons. Here’s a poem I wrote about dragons.

Y Ddraig Goch 

I am your Welsh dragon,
A symbol carried by Roman legions,
Your real man in a kilt, with
The blood of my Celtic ancestors,
Of Arthur, Merlin, and Llywellyn
Stirring, churning in my blood.
In the Chinese calendar,
I was born in the Year of the Dragon,
Honored in festivals, envied in horoscopes.
I am a dragon, your Welsh red dragon,
And the dragon-title suits me,
For I am fierce, strong,
And born of conflict and mythology.
A creature thought to not exist
By many, even by you in the past, but
You found me, manly and intellectual,
Full of fire and powered by magic,
Feared by men, and dreamed of by women.
Now, whenever you look at a dragon,
I know you will think of me.

Tuesday: I woke singing.

I’ve been in a foul mood lately–no doubt due to laying down the cigs–but I woke in a better mood with a clearer head today. I’ve learned two songs this morning–A kiddie song for my programs, “Waltzing with Bears” and a song for me, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I posted the lyrics of the song back on June 13. The lyrics are so intense (and personally applicable) that I choked up when I tried to sing them. That emotion usually goes away or at least gets under control after I go through a song a few times.

Another sign I feel better is the fact I woke up early and made a to do list. There are about a half dozen schools and libraries I must contact today, and I also must spend time writing on my play. I leave early Thursday morning for Mobile and won’t return until Sunday night. At least a few nights I’ll spend at my daughter’s house in Ocean Springs. I’ll have my laptop with me, will likely have access to wireless Internet, so I should be able to do a post every day. Here’s my Mobile Schedule:

Thursday, November 15: Books-A-Million 6850 Highway 90 Daphne, AL 251-625-8644
Friday, November 16: Barnes & Noble, 3250 Airport Blvd. Mobile. 251-450-0084
Saturday, November 17: Barnes & Noble, 30500 State Hwy 181 Spanish Fort, AL 251-621-3545
Sunday, November 18: Books-A-Million, 3206 Airport, Bell Air Mall, Mobile 251-471-3528
Sunday November 25: Books-A-Million, 3960 Airport Boulevard, Mobile 251-341-0133

I’ll start these signings as early as I can each day and go until the store is sold out of my books or until it closes. Please feel free to share this list of signings with anyone you know in the Mobile Alabama area.  Teachers and members of the SCV or UDC seem to especially enjoy my children’s book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House.

Poetry of Louise Glück

Today in ENG 206, we looked at the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Louise Glück.  While I like the poetry of Plath and Sexton, I am overwhelmed by the poetry of Glück (pronounced Glick).  About a year ago, a close friend introduced me to Glück and gave me Glück’s book, Averno. I’ve been haunted by this poet ever since. A Pulitzer prize winner, and U.S. Poet Laureate, Glück is a prominent voice among American poets today. I was happy to see  her included in our anthology.
Averno is a lake in Italy that the Romans thought went all the way down and served as an entrance to the underworld. I looked back through Averno and found some meaningful lines I had underlined last year, lines that primarily relate to Persephone and her abduction by Hades.

“It is like losing a year of your life./To what would you lose a year of your life?”

“When Hades decided he loved this girl/ he built for her a duplicate of earth,/ everything the same, down to the meadow,/but with a bed added.”

“A disaster like this/leaves no mark on the earth.”

I intend to get the other books of Glück in the future. She is worth reading, and she will make you think and feel.