Monday, November 21, 2011

My Bucket List

“My Bucket List”
Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, renewal, and rejoicing. In that spirit, I’ve made a bucket list and combined two facets of my life, emotional and physical, into this list.
  • Make a positive impact in someone’s life.
  • Try always being optimistic (which is hard at times).
  • Develop whatever talent God gave me.
  • Treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Enjoy my life.
  • Visit Jerusalem and the pyramids of Egypt (yeah, like that’s gonna happen.)
  • Go back to New York City.
  • See the Gettysburg battlefield.
  • Ride in a carriage and a streetcar in New Orleans.
  • Meet Robert Duvall and Billy Bob Thornton.
  • Have an experience with a ghost (preferably an affable spirit)
  • Be remembered when I die.
Those are just a few that came to me, there’s many more! We all need a bucket list. Yet, of all the things I haven’t done, here are some awesome things I HAVE experienced (including having a picture made with some fabulous writers):
  • Spent seven years in the Army, right out of high school.
  • Coached kids in basketball for almost ten years.
  • Saw the international space station fly over earth.
  • Wore a Superbowl ring on my finger.
  • Witnessed both a Broadway play, and an off-Broadway play.
  • Donated blood, with my mom, for Lifeshare on Mother’s Day one year.
  • Corresponded with producers of Rocky Balboa, The Stand, & Crocodile Dundee.
  • Had one of my screenplays compared to Mel Brooks.
  • Met Lois Smith who, as a young person, appeared in East of Eden with James Dean.
  • Participated in a poetry reading.
  • Spoke to students, and adults, on creative writing.
  • Knew one of my great-grandfathers, and one of my great-grandmothers.
  • Walked in the footsteps of slaves at plantations throughout Louisiana.
  • Captured two ghosts, or something unexplainable, in photographs.
Naturally, the accomplished list is much longer too.  The point is, of all the things I haven’t done, there are some really cool things I have done.  Adding to the cool list is meeting and having my photo taken with the award-winning writers Tony Kushner and Mark Harris! (I wanted them to squeeze me until I exploded!) What about you? Make your own list. It may surprise you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Bridge to Publication

“Advice from Insiders”
     On Saturday, Nov 12th, Bayou Writers’ Group of Lake Charles hosted their 8th annual writing conference, ‘A Bridge to Publication’. My guess is about 60 people attended, although I haven’t seen the official numbers yet. Guest speakers included D.B. Grady, a Baton Rouge author and contributor to The Atlantic; Anita Mumm, first reader at the Literary Nelson Agency in Colorado; and Columnist, AND New York Times best-selling author, Mark Harris.
      At the beginning of the program, emcee Curt Iles, encouraged attendees to be “writing sponges.” I took his advice, and absorbed information all day! So much so, by the end of the day I felt mentally whipped. Seriously! It was as if my mind could hold no more input. For added fun, we had door prizes and our “On the Wall Contest” where the premise was to entice your reader from the very first page. I was excited when my uncle, Rick Bailey, won with his entry titled, “The 19th Kentucky Regiment.” He is working on an historical fiction novel about the Civil War and I anxiously await its completion! He is a wonderful writer.
      Each presenter shared valuable insight. For example, D.B. Grady explained why it’s better to have an agent than a publisher, and why being published badly is worse than not being published at all. Additionally, Anita Mumm presented key points on the importance of query letters. Finally, Mark Harris posed four questions to the audience.
1) Who are you, and how are you conveying who you are to readers?
2) Whom are you writing for?
3) How much feedback do you want from readers?
4) Why are you choosing to write about the things you want to write about?
      As Forrest Gump© says, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Well, you never know who you will meet at our conferences. Case in point, Mark Harris’ husband is none other than the Tony©, Emmy©, and Pulitzer Prize winning writer, and Golden Globe©, AND Academy Award© nominee, Tony Kushner! (Who was in the audience! I swear! I have pictures to prove it! Oh my God, I really tried not to stalk them, but couldn’t help myself!)
      On a more serious note, if you are a writer, I invite you to become a member of Bayou Writers’ Group. We meet to educate, encourage, and inspire each other as we continually strive to be better writers. Being around other writers is uplifting. If you are looking for a writing group, we “get it” at BWG. Check out our website at As president, I look forward to meeting you!
      Our membership did a fantastic job of preparing and decorating for this event. It took months of planning to pull this off, and saying “thank you” in no way conveys my gratitude. BWG is the best!