Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Red Book

In about three weeks, I'll have my very first book ready. I have the proof copy and am working on it. It's small, but it's mine. The Red Book is the first in a series and contains short stories and poems. Hope you'll get a chance to check it out. I'll be selling them for $8.00 each. Am very excited and hope you will get a chance to check it out! Visit my Facebook page at

Thank you for looking and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Tribute to Jack White

I'm a big Jack White fan. I love the man's creativity and musical ability. His shows constantly sell out, and when they don't, scalpers buy up the tickets and resell them for hundreds of dollars making it impossible to get one. Nevertheless, I still want to see him live one day. I play Blunderbuss all the time along with the Cold Mountain soundtrack. As a writer, I've written many things: articles, screenplays, flash fiction, and lots and lots of poetry. One poem is even based on Ada and Inman, characters from Charles Frazier's novel Cold Mountain and I even got permission from Third Man Records to use the music from Wayfaring Stranger to accompany the piece if I ever read it aloud at a poetry reading, which I haven't done YET! Earlier this year, I wrote another poem based on Jack's version of Great High Mountain, another piece from the Cold Mountain soundtrack. Like a giddy 14-year-old with a Justin Bieber crush, I mailed it to TMR as a donation. It may have ended up in the trash as far as I know, but what the hell. Here is the poem, hope you like it.

My Great High Mountain
(inspired by the song “Great High Mountain
written by Ralph Stanley and sung by Jack White)
by Sherry Perkins

What is the mountain Jack White sings of in a song called “Great High Mountain,” the one he desperately longs to climb? The same one he falls down on his knees in front of and cries out, “Lord, what must I do?”
In his song, the mountain could be a representation of life. 
(“The higher I got, the harder I climbed.”)
Yes, for some, it could be life in general.
But...what about those of us who think outside the box?
For me, since I’m the only one I can truly speak for, the mountain represents...
 expression, creativity, writing, publishing.
You see, I’ve always been a deep thinker, a hard feeler, and I’ve always known that I’m good at something.  We’re all good at something.
Am I a good writer?  I’d like to think so.
After all, nobody can write exactly like me, nor can I write like others.
I don’t want to.  I’m not them, they’re not me.

Furthermore, who is the “sweet voice” he hears from “the top of the mountain?”
Is it God saying “...put your hand in mine?” 
Whoever is speaking in his story, God, an angel, the voice gives him courage.
Yet, in my story, the voice is always me.  It’s my inner strength when all seems lost and there’s nowhere to go but up.  It’s my grit, my guts, my voice urging me higher and higher up my mountain of expression and creativity.

          So what, if no one gets it. So what, if my words are too plain for plain people. Who cares if my country slang clouds the meanings? I don’t need your permission or validation to express myself, to climb my great high mountain.

Expression, creativity, writing...inspirations come from everywhere, they come from nowhere.  Don’t be afraid to climb your mountain whatever it represents for you. 
Because when you reach the top, and you will, it will all have been worth it.

January 27, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Lesson in...Screenplays

Okay, right off the bat, what is a screenplay? It's a movie in written form. Everything is different when writing a screenplay versus writing a novel: format, description, narration, action, number of pages. Unlike a novel, where words flow down the pages in paragraph form, a screenplay is tight writing with the dialogue down the center of the page posted under the character speaking. Small scene set ups (descriptions) are written to tell the reader where the action is taking place. In my research, I found out that a minute on the screen equals about one page of text. So, for that two-hour movie, the screenwriter had to come up with a 120-page script. You can find all you need to know on the Internet or in books, except of course for the words. You'll have to come up with those. They even sell screenplays on online auction sites if you'd like to see what a professional one looks like.

Now that you've written that next masterpiece, you know the one where you receive the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, what do you do with it? How does it go from the page to the movie screen? Not that I'm a professional, but I can tell you the path I've followed.

First, you have to draft a pitch. This is comparable to a novel pitch, where you have one page to catch the producer's/agent's/manager's attention. In this pitch you have to contain a lot of information in a short space. For example, the title of your story, what it is comparable to in films, and the meat and potatoes (main character, conflict, the goal of the main character, and how he/she will get to the goal, plus who the story would appeal to (the audience). I've pitched to producers many times. Although most have passed on my story, with some giving me great feedback, others have requested the screenplay -which still hasn't gone anywhere but that just makes me work harder. After the pitch hooks the reader, he or she may instead request a treatment. A treatment is more thorough and contains more information than you can put on one page. Again, you can research on the Internet about treatments.

Why am I telling you this? Because I've written four screenplays (with two in progress), haven't bought the fancy script-writing software that is available since I can type it all out in Word, and have pitched to producers on my own. It all started years ago by watching stupid, boring, lame, (and any other derogatory adjective you want to use) movies. I told my husband, "I can write a better story than that," after watching something so stupid we eventually turned it off and I don't even remember the name of it. Yet, Hollywood continues to roll out lame blockbusters which makes you question the entire process. (Is it really who you know?) Perhaps I'm trying too hard, at least that's what my husband says. But, I believe in my heart one day my story will end up on the screen, probably jumbled into the same category I just ranted about above. Yet, if other idiot writers can do it - so can I because I'm NOT an idiot writer. (Yes, I'm jealous can't you tell.)

To help you better visualize a pitch, I'm including an actual pitch below. This was sent to a Paramount Producer about a month or so ago. For confidentiality, I will not list his name. It's not perfect, but at least I had to courage to send it. Who knows what lights the fire under these people, but you never know until you try. If you were a movie producer, what would you think about this? The format may be lost in copying and pasting, but I think you'll get the idea. Oh, and I'm not worried about someone stealing my idea. We all have ideas. When we convert our ideas to a tangible written form is when it's protected. All of my screenplays have been registered. Research copyright and registration on the Library of Congress website.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

You're Invited

In less than 90 days, the group I belong to - Bayou Writers' Group - will host its annual writing conference. If you've never attended a writing conference, I'd like to invite you to 'A Bridge to Publication' on Sat, Nov 10th, 2012 in Lake Charles. Topics to be discussed include poetry, folk telling, fiction, and presentations by a literary agent and editor. Please visit our website at for registration details.

Everyone is working hard to bring you a wonderful experience. Even if you've never had anything published, you will learn how at our conference. You'll network and meet people. You'll have a chance to buy books, and we even serve lunch on site. It's scheduled from 8:00 am to around 5:00 pm. We even have a free one-page writing contest throughout the day. Check out the website for details about the On The Wall/Best First Page Contest!

So, get ready to have a blast! Don't wait to the last minute, since you can save money by registering early. See one of our ads in every Thursday's Lake Charles American Press Scene Section. More ads will be appearing soon in other publications, but stay updated by visiting our website.

I hope to see you there. The above picture was taken at the Gay Pride Parade of 2011 in New York City. Mama and I were there that day and got caught up in the festivities, but hey that's another story. Just as you never know what you will see in NYC, you never what you can learn at a writing conference. On the same trip, we attended Tony Kushner's play "The Illusion" where we met husband and wife David Margulies and Lois Smith who were cast members. Very sweet people, and Lois Smith appeared with James Dean in East of Eden!

You never know what you'll experience either in New York City or at a writing conference!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

From Santa Claus to the Civil War

It's so fulfilling to be in a writing group. The one I belong to is Bayou Writers' Group in Lake Charles. We meet monthly at Carnegie Library on Pujo Street on the first Saturday of the month from 10:00 am until noon. Normally we have speakers presenting on different aspects of writing and publishing, but not yesterday. Yesterday, the meeting was devoted to the membership in a different way. Those who wanted, brought something and we took turns reading aloud. We call those meetings "Saturday Morning on the Bayou." There were about 24 in attendance, and of those, 15 pieces were read. I love reading aloud, don't get me wrong. But I really enjoy hearing what my peers are doing, or have done. We heard short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from Santa Claus to the Civil War. With six visitors, I hope they had as good a time as I did. If you're a writer and haven't found a writing home, check out our website at where we'd love to have you. It's one thing to write, it's a whole other monster having the courage to present your poetry or prose to others beside your family and close friends. If you're looking for encouragement, enlightenment, or ways to submit your articles or stories, check us out. Visitors are allowed two free meetings. Hope to see you soon...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Bookshelf

You can learn a lot from a person’s bookshelf. I just took an inventory of my books and found my interests are widespread. I love nonfiction, fiction, romance, memoirs, poetry, informational, history, and even the classics. Here is my inventory in random order (I’m not so geeky that I categorize my books yet – but I’m afraid that day is coming.)

Nonfiction about:
Larry Bird
Gene Simmons of KISS
Princess Diana (4 books)
James Dean (3 books)
The Indonesian Tsunami by Curt Iles

Fiction by:
Billy Bob Thornton
Curt Iles
DiAnn Mills
Sue Monk Kidd
Susan Hinton
Anne Rice
James Lee Burke
Stephen King

Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Anderson Prison by Gene Hackman & Daniel Lenihan
The History of Oberlin by Pat Marcantel
A book about Harriett Tubman
A book about growing up on a Louisiana plantation where the female author disguised her name by spelling it backwards.
A book about Louisiana Capitols

Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris

Memoirs by:
Colleen Arthur
Rodney Hennigan
Frank McCourt

Rachel Windham

Short Stories and Poetry by:
Sam Shepard
Viggo Mortensen

Classics by:
John Steinbeck
Margaret Mitchell
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Louisa May Alcott

Finally, there are two books I wouldn’t part with for a million dollars, literally. But if someone were to offer, I might just think about it. Nah, because both of them are over 100 years old. I’m such an antiquarian. Believe it or not I found these at garage sales:

a 1904 edition (the original printing was 1891) of Literary Masterpieces, and
an 1899 copy of The Rover Boys on the Ocean by Arthur Winfield

I’m so lucky to be a reader. What does your bookshelf look like?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Charlie Brown - Not the Cartoon

Yesterday was the day one of my brothers died. Although his official date of death is tomorrow, May 28th, it was the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend in 2006. He was only 30 years old. His name was Charlie and most people called him Charlie Brown, among other nicknames he acquired during his life. In remembering my brother, I knew I had written something about him for the funeral. Although I didn't read it aloud because my throat closed and I couldn't speak, I knew I had something to share with those who came to the funeral. I found it and want to post this very personal piece on my blog in the hopes it may help others. Yes it's sad, yes it's profound, and yes it touches on drug use. Just as I helped carry my dad's casket to the grave, I helped carry my brother's too. I know, women aren't supposed to do that, but he was my brother and I felt it was only right! Read it if you want... P.S. Charlie is the one in the overalls!

My Brother Charlie

            Thank you all for coming.  Each of us deals with grief in our own way.  For some, they hold it in and don’t talk about it.  Others prefer to be alone with their thoughts, while others feel better by talking and being around people who have the same feelings.  For me, it’s a mixture. Sometimes I keep stuff bottled up, sometimes I want to talk, and other times I just want to be around people.  Today is very hard on all of us.  Hard in different ways.  So, thank you for listening, thank you for talking, and thank you for just being around us today.

            Charlie was known by many people and was called many things:  daddy, son, friend, uncle, cousin, nephew, and grandson, but to me he was a brother.  Even though he was the meanest brother, he was still my brother.  For those who have brothers, you know at times, they can be a royal pain in the butt.  But, siblings have a special bond that is hard to explain.  This is why I feel compelled to say something on the day we bury our brother.

            We do not know what happened to Charlie.  We won’t know for a few months.  We can speculate it was drugs, or we can hope it was a medical condition.  I won’t stand here and say my brother was a saint, because he wasn’t.  He was however, baptized as a child and knew Jesus, so I have no doubt that I will see Charlie again.  With Charlie, he was either your best friend or your worst enemy.  He had a temper like dynamite and a heart like a marshmallow.  If you didn’t know Charlie, he looked very intimidating.  Some of you here know many things and can share many stories about Charlie.  Stories that are probably not very good because he had a reputation for getting into mischief, even as a child.  Of all of us, he got the most whippings. 
            Yet as we come together today to support one another, we hope that Charlie did not die in vain.  We have always been taught that everything happens for a reason, and if the cause of his death is not a medical condition, if the cause of his death is drugs or is drug related, then some in this room need to pay attention because you are on the same path.
            If Charlie’s death is drug related please don’t put your friends and family through this.  Drugs not only destroy families, but they destroy your former self by taking your personality away and replacing it with a stranger’s personality.  Drug addicts lie, cheat, and steal straight to your face.  They place blame on others, they come up with the most off-the-wall excuses and stories.  Drugs turn people from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, right under our nose and we, the family and friends, say nothing.  We “feel sorry for them,” we “hope they straighten up,” we “wish they could just do right,” we justify it by saying, “that kid sure has had a hard life.”  We are afraid to say anything.  Prescription or non prescription, it doesn’t matter, a drug addict is a drug addict.  Children suffer, spouses suffer, parents suffer, friends suffer, and siblings suffer. 

            I hope that Charlie had a medical condition, but if he did not, I hope his death serves as a wake up call for some.  I loved my brother, I always will and I will miss him.  Thank you for listening.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Heroes: Heathcliff, Rhett Butler, and Edward Rochester

     I'm such a homebody, typing away on a Saturday night. Woo - hoo! What an exciting life I lead. Just a few minutes ago, as my husband flipped through the channels sighing "there's nothing on," I saw something I wanted to watch: the original Wuthering Heights from 1939 (adopted from the novel by Emily Bronte). I love the remake with Ralph Fiennes so much that I vow to see the original one day. Well, today isn't that day. After stalling for a few minutes on the black and white version, I told him he could turn it once I saw the bored look on his face. But, seeing just a few scenes reminded me of an old classic I DID watch the other day, Jane Eyre. This one is by Emily's sister Charlotte.
     I've always wondered what the big deal about Jane Eyre was. I don't wonder anymore. The romance is so nail biting that the hour and a half of the movie felt like days. (This is the 1944 version with Orson Welles as Edward Rochester and Joan Fontaine as Jane Eyre.) Oh, I wanted to be Jane Erye as soon as she walked into Thornfield. I'm not sure what it is about classic movies when men were honorable and chivalrous and women were feminine and demure, but I could watch these old classics all day and night. To watch as both Edward and Jane were secretly attracted to each other, but neither had the nerve to show it, is right up the romance meter with Scarlett and Rhett. Where are guys like Rhett Butler and Edward Rochester now-a-days? And Healthcliff for that matter?
     And, if you look closely in Jane Eyre, you can even see a very young Elizabeth Taylor as Helen. After seeing this classic, I now understand the big deal, why it's a classic. The Bronte sisters had it going on in the 1800s and in my opinion, they still do. Wonder what classic I'll get to watch next?
     If anyone reads this post, give me some good classics, romance not action. Still haven't seen Casablanca. I hear it's good though.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wanting to be an Outsider

This piece was recently rejected, but I love it and am posting it to my blog.

“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”  S. E. Hinton

            What better things to illuminate a reader’s imagination in one sentence than the words sunshine, a movie, Paul Newman, and a car. Adding a hint of mystery is that we don’t know who the narrator is from the introduction. Is it a man, a woman, a boy, a girl? Is the narrator happy, sad, confused, or excited? What is going on with him or her? What is going to happen? From twenty-nine words, an entire world opens up. A world we all wished for at one time or another. It was a world where adults were not allowed. It was a world for teenagers, a world only for The Outsiders.
            As I stare at the 1967 worn hardback, which I just somehow “forgot” to return to the Sam Houston High School library, complete with yellow highlights that correspond to movie lines, vivid memories of being sixteen years old flood my mind. I remember thinking as I read page after page, “Man, this writer is good.” After I finished it, I even inscribed inside the front cover, “This is the best book I have ever read.” I swear I did. The date reads January 24, 1987. Fast forward 25 years, and I feel the same. 
            The way James Dean embodied confusion, rebelliousness, and identity for teenagers on the screen in the 1950s, The Outsiders paralleled the same feelings for a new generation of teenagers. We were confused, mad, misunderstood, friends were everything, and the world seemed life-and-death serious. It was as if I my secret fears of not fitting in, my insecurities of not having much money, and my own desires to be grown up jumped out of the pages at me. 
            Reading of Cherry Valance, I wanted to be her. She was pretty, cool, rich, confident, and outspoken. Secretly, she liked Dallas Winston but they ran in different circles. Exploring her self-doubt in wanting to get to know Dallas, someone different, mirrored my own insecurities of wanting to talk to the new boy on the school bus that smelled great but was quiet and kept a low profile. He later actually became my boyfriend, but that’s another story.
            Before reading The Outsiders, posters of Matt Dillon and Rob Lowe plastered my bedroom walls. After reading the book, and seeing both Matt Dillon and Rob Lowe in the movie, my fascination with the actors, the book, and the movie grew into an obsession. 
            As I read how the Curtis brothers survived on their own, without the watchful eyes of their parents, who were deceased, inspired me. Teenagers cooking, having jobs, bathing, living, going to school, and being self-sufficient was new. I was amazed as I found myself stuck in their world. Yet, underneath their unconventional circumstances, an inner fire glowed for the family unit, just as it secretly burned inside of me. Despite my thoughts of, “I can’t wait to be on my own,” burned against shameful thoughts of never wanting to leave the comfort of my family. I really did, and still do, love them.
            Each character, from Two-Bit Matthews, to Darrell, to Johnny, to Dallas, and even Steve, seemed to be different aspects of my personality. For example, Two-Bit was my silly side that seldom emerged. Darrell represented the responsibility that comes with being the oldest of five children. Johnny was the part of me that stayed quiet and shuffled along with others, even though he didn’t want to, just so he wouldn’t be alone. Dallas represented the wild side I longed for. Steve represented the loyal friend to all. All those facets of my character summed me up pretty well at sixteen. At forty two, they still do.
            Over twenty-five years ago I buried myself in the world of the Greasers. Although it was a work of fiction, it was real. It was real because I related to so many things the author described. It was real because she wrote on my level. It was real because I felt other kids were going through the same crises as me and I wasn’t alone.
            S.E. Hinton made me want to be an outsider. I wanted to sit on the Curtis brothers’ couch and eat cake for breakfast. I wanted to work at the gas station with Sodapop. I wanted to sit in front of Dallas Winston at the drive in. I wanted to visit Johnny in the hospital. 
            I wish I could meet her and thank her for describing my thoughts, feelings, confusions, and hopes. The Outsiders should be mandatory reading in high schools. For this is not only a book, it’s literature to me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Celebrity Interview

After over 100 published pieces, guess my determination is paying off. For those who don't know yet, and unless you've been living in a cave on Antarctica, the new issue of Southern Writers Magazine came out on May 1st and guess who is in it? ME! Yes me, the diligent, determined writer with an interview with none other than Viggo Mortensen! Yes, you read that right too THE Viggo Mortensen. So, check out the website at and subscribe to read his excellent advice to writers.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And the Winner Is...

The right answers to my contest are:

1. I
2. D
3. H
4. G
5. B
6. A
7. C
8. J
9. E
10. F

So, with half of the answers correct, Keaghan is the winner. Thanks again for playing, Keaghan. I'll have a book for you the next time we meet.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Since No One Wants to Play...

For ten days I've been waiting and hoping someone, anyone, would at least leave a comment on my previous post.  I guess in my way of challenging, I've made it too hard. So, here is a list of authors which corresponds to the titles in the previous post:

1. Curt Iles
2. DiAnn Mills
3. Gene Hackman and Daniel Lenihan
4. Nicholas Sparks
5. M.R. Alienroc
6. Rodney Hennigan
7. Jonna Turner
8. Colleen O'Brien Arthur
9. DiAnn Mills
10. Noah Lukeman

Ok, now that you have the authors, am I still the smelly kid no one wants to play with? Now, you only have ten more days to play.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Who Did It or Wrote It?

Here’s my second attempt at hosting a contest. You’ll notice I did not list the authors to make it a tad bit more challenging. Plus, if you know the authors you may get a few correct right off the bat! Forgive the format. Copying and pasting doesn't work that well. 

Rules:  Just match the letters in the column on the right to the numbers in the column on the left. You must leave your answers as a comment on this blog. Facebook answers will not count. The person(s) with the most correct matches wins.   

Contest opens April 10th and ends at midnight April 30th.
Winners announced on May 1st!

1.  A Good Place                                  A. This Westlake, Louisiana writer has 7 sons.

2.  The Fire in Ember                          B. This author spelled her real name backward.

3.  Escape from Andersonville           C. A mystery whose heroine is Jeagan Christensen.

4.  Nights in Rodanthe                        D. Thought of as a boy, the main character is actually a girl!

5.  The White Castle of Louisiana     E. A follow-up book which goes with one on the list.

6.  My Father’s Gift                             F. The author of this book is also a literary agent.

7.  The Desk                                          G. Strangers try to figure out their lives.

8.  Louisiana Called My Name         H. One of the co-writers is known from the big screen.

9.  A Woman Called Sage                   I. A story told by Mayo Moore.

10.  The Plot Thickens                        J. Short stories about a woman’s life and loves.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April is National Poetry Month

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I'm posting one of mine with one of my photos.

A Building in New Orleans
by Sherry Perkins

Don’t stop loving me because I don’t look like I once did.
Walls jaded
Bricks faded
Paint peeling
Wind reeling

If you come in, I’ll show you who I was.

If you let me, I can be again.

If I scare you, I’m sorry.
Spider webs
Broken glass
Missing pieces

Don’t give up on me.
Don’t let me die.
I want to live.
I want to live, again.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Contest (re: the last post)

Well, after I thought I'd give a heads up about my contest on Facebook this morning, my aunt read the FB post and answered EVERY question right in her comment! Yes, she posted all the answers on Facebook. God love her! (Yes, I do too!) If you're curious as to the answers, go to my FB page and you'll see them.

So, for anyone who read my last blog and are getting your answers ready for Monday, I know you're all jumping right on it, please stop. The contest is officially cancelled.  Sorry!

I'll revamp it and do another contest later.

Thanks again to all who were even thinking about it.

A Short 12-Day Contest

Piece it Together
a Short 12-day Contest

Okay, something fun and different.  It’s a contest with free books as prizes! (Not the books listed. These are some of my faves and I’m not parting with them. ha ha)

Rules:  Just match the letters in the column on the right to the numbers in the column on the left. You must leave your answers as a comment on this blog. The person(s) with the most correct matches wins. Start thinking (or researching) now.

Contest opens Mon, March 19th and ends at midnight, Fri, Mar 30th.
Winners announced on March 31st!

1. The Scarlet Letter                     A. Four generations of women from Louisiana.
    by Nathaniel Hawthorne                   
2. Day out of Days                        B. This author also wrote “Angela’s Ashes."
    by Sam Shepard                             

3. The Outsiders                           C. Where Big Sam is the plantation foreman.
    by S.E. Hinton                                  

4. Pictures at a Revolution            D. An in depth look into the life of a rebel from Indiana.
    by Mark Harris

5. Teacher Man                            E. A family of men named Adam, Cal, and Aaron.
     by Frank McCourt                          

6. Slingblade, a Screenplay          F. The main character is Ponyboy Curtis.
    by Billy Bob Thornton

7. East of Eden                            G. A detailed comparison of five films.
    by John Steinbeck                           

8. Cane River                               H. Hester Prynne defies Colonial America.
     by Lalita Tademy

9. Gone With the Wind                 I. Carl kills Doyle to protect Frank.
     by Margaret Mitchell

10. James Dean, a biography       J. A collection of short stories and poetry.
      by Val Holley

Thanks in advance for playing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Remembrance of Mr. Bill Kushner

Today I had the privilege to experience something extraordinary. It wasn’t a celebrity encounter, and I didn't win the lottery (because I don’t play). I didn’t witness a miracle, or maybe I did. Yes, now that I think of it I will call it a miracle. People inspire and touch our lives daily, some intentionally and others accidentally. I said people and didn’t specify those living because what I experienced today happened at a funeral, and furthermore by the deceased.

Many people of Lake Charles knew Mr. Bill Kushner. I should rephrase and say many folks in the music and arts knew him, since he was the Conductor of the Lake Charles Symphony for years according to yesterday’s Lake Charles American Press. Not only was today his birthday, but it was also his funeral. “What is extraordinary about a funeral?” you may be thinking.

Although a few strangers sat several feet to my right, I felt alone and somewhat out of place at the end of the pew. Yet, as Rabbi Barry Weinstein began the service, my feelings of being alone and awkwardness quickly disappeared and were replaced by wings of comfort, inspiration, encouragement, sincerity, humility, and love which enveloped me.

For the first time in my life, I heard Hebrew spoken live (not on television or radio), followed by Dr. Charles Isbell singing in Hebrew. The language is beautiful even though I did not understand their words at times. Mayor Randy Roach quoted yesterday’s newspaper headline by saying, “Kushner ‘made Lake Charles a better place.’” His eloquent words of comfort, sympathy, and genuine concern came from his heart. Then, Mark Harris read words from William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech and made the attendees laugh despite heavy hearts. Following Mark Harris was Charles St. Dizier, who added to the Mayor’s remarks and ended by saying, “Bill not only made Lake Charles a better place, he made his friends better people.” What a testimony to someone’s life.

His son Eric Kushner delivered the eulogy. As Eric spoke for his brother, sister, and himself, my heart went out to him. He had an enormous load to carry and he carried out his task with perfection, humility, comedy, and compassion. Although others spoke and we heard beautiful, moving music by Mozart and Beethoven, a simple wooden casket stood at the front of the chapel while hundreds sat in quiet respect. What a sign of humility. Simplicity may be part of the Jewish religion I don’t know. What I do know is how viewing it as it passed down the aisle touched me. My heart cried out to hear him answer the phone one last time, with his distinct “HELLOOO!”

As I returned to work, I told my co-workers, “it was the most perfect service I had ever been to.” Sadly, I never knew Mr. Bill professionally or personally, and only saw a glimmer of what others spoke about in his life. Luckily, I still saw the glimmer, the sheen, the fine mist that surrounded him. I wish I could have met him before May 2011 when I was a guest in his home, but am so proud I met him when I did. He was a sweet man. After hearing stories of his life, education, career, causes, feelings, family, and inspirations, he makes me want to be a better person. That is the miracle and I am so glad I experienced it. Thank you, Mr. Bill for touching me beyond the grave. I won’t forget you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"What's imagination?" she asked.

     Today while my husband was at work, I took my stepdaughter, and her friend who's spending the weekend with her, to the Chinese restaurant in DeRidder for lunch. The girls finished eating before me, imagine that - teenage picky eaters that don't eat their $10 worth at a buffet! Go figure. As they broke open their fortune cookies, my stepdaughter's friend read her fortune aloud. It had something to do with imagination.
     She looked at me and asked, "What's imagination?"
     My heart sank. I couldn't believe it. Not wanting to embarrass her or my stepdaughter, I thought of a simple description and left it at that. Just now when I told my husband, he said. "Poor girl." My thoughts exactly.
     It's one thing when a child asks that question, but if a teenager were to ask you, "What's imagination?", what would you say?

Jess Got Me (Tagged I Mean)!

      Okay, now that I've been tagged by Jess Ferguson, I'll play along. This seems fun. The format is a little off because I had to cut and paste since I don't really know how to get the questions. 
        1. What is the one book you couldn’t live without? Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind or maybe John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath
     2. What can you see out your window at the moment? Don't have a window in my bedroom
     3 . What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Dried squid while stationed in Korea, and boiled squid at the Panda restaurant in Lake Charles. Cannot say I liked either, but at least I tried it. I was tempted to try the octopus at Panda, but am not that brave just yet.
     4. What fictional character would you most like to marry?   Emily Bronte's Heathcliff, or Lord Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings! (Just had to throw that in there - read my post and you'll see why.) Or, Inman from Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain.
     5. If ever a fictional villain was going to win, who would you want it to be?   I'd have to go with Rhett Butler. Although I don't think of him as a villain but he plays excellent opposite Scarlett.  OR Mr. Hyde.

6. How many types of cheese can you name off the top of your head? Just a few, maybe six or so. By the way, how DO you spell Roakford? or Arugula?  Not a cheese expert, but like Jess love to eat it.

7. If you didn’t want to be a writer, what would you want to be? An archaeologist digging for fossils in Ancient Egypt. Or maybe a medical examiner to dissect expired bodies in an autopsy. Yeah, morbid I know but the science of it blows me away.
  8. Can you play a musical instrument?   No
  9. Do you own a Kindle or a Nook or any sort of e-reader?   No
  10. If you do, how many books do you have on it?   
  11. You just got published. In a glowing review, someone calls you “the next [insert famous author name here]”. Which famous author has to watch their back now you’re on the scene?  Nicholas Sparks

  Not tagging anybody only because I don't know how.  Is that sad or what?

Friday, March 9, 2012

When You Don't Have Anything to Write About...

     Good old Friday night. After reading the blogs I follow, which aren't that many, I realized it's been a month since I've posted to my own blog.  A month? Dang!  Lazy? No way! Busy is more like it.  So, as I'm typing these words to take up space, my mind is swirling - desperate for a topic. The same old question that plagues us all, "What do I write about?" is flashing like a neon sign above my head. Advice? Not in a position to give it.  Really I'm not, but some think I am. Submission opportunities? Maybe, I have a few. Format? Nah, not in a serious mood.  After all, my husband is in the next room watching an old KISS concert and all I can hear is "You wanted the best, you got the best..." Blah, blah, blah...Don't get me wrong, I liked KISS - when I was 12! We're all different, I know, but come on.  We actually went to a KISS concert about ten years ago and YES IT WAS AWESOME! See, I'm rambling with no focus, just typing words.
     Wait!  Yeah, I have an idea. Check this out...

     Since I don't want to give advice or discuss formatting, spelling, or grammar right now, or anything else  along those lines I'll fill you in on a secret.  Well, it's not really a secret, more like something INCREDIBLE that recently happened to me. Whatever you do, be sure to subscribe to Southern Writers magazine. Yes, it's $10 a copy, but hopefully in the next issue you'll see an interview by me with actor, poet, painter, photographer, and writer Viggo Mortensen. Yes, the actor from "The Lord of the Rings" movies, and "A History of Violence," "Hildalgo," and "The Road," to name a few of his films. Shameless promotion I know, but what the hey - told you my mind is grasping at anything to write about right now. So, I'll let you in on what I told my writing group. No, I didn't meet the man. It was all through email through his manager but it's still an interview. And yes, I received permission from Mr. Mortensen to pitch it. What started out as an email, resulted in an interview.  How about them apples?  Yeah for me!!!

P.S. Sorry for the ramblings, even I get writer's block.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Readings at the Library

Yesterday, Carnegie Library hosted its annual Reminiscent Writings Program.  Despite the rain a few folks showed up.  I had the privilege to read an entry from the 2009 program.  It was a story about how my grandpa met my grandma (my mama's parents).  She came with me and I knew it was going to be hard, since I'm so tender hearted.  My voice cracked and tears welled in my eyes on more than one occasion but I finally finished the story.  There is nothing like telling your story! It may sound a little selfish, but that story means so much to me just as it did when I visited with my grandpa that day and heard him tell it.  Sadly, of all the people in all the surrounding communities, the library only received ten entries this year.  The new theme for 2012 was announced and I can't wait until another special story gets out of my head to be forever recorded on the page.  Won't you please check out the Reminiscent Writings?  This is a great opportunity to record your stories.  Ms. Marcia Dutton and her husband Mr. Charlie were there, and I was so happy to see them.  I can't wait to read Ms. Marcia's story since she submitted one this year.  This competition, if you want to call it that, has been in place since 1991 and it's a way of collecting community members' stories.  There is no fee to enter, only adhere to the theme and word count.  Everyone who submits a story receives a spiral-bound copy of all submissions.  Although my story was somewhat sad and sappy, the program ended on a happy story about a young girl accidentally making muffins with Watkins liniment!  Please consider participating in this year's theme.  There are countless stories out there waiting for the right home. Some of our Bayou Writers' Group members have participated over the years such as Rachel Windham and Bob and Georgia Downer. It's really fun and a great way for writers to get published!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Poetry Out Loud

On Friday, Feb 17th, Central School will  host the regional competition of the National Poetry Out Loud Competition.  This event if open to the public.  For more info see the Arts & Humanities website.  I promise, you'll be blown away as high-school students recite poetry.  Show your support to our young people as they embrace the arts.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saint Domingue & Toussaint Louverture by Dr. Philippe Girard of McNeese State University

Dr. Phillipe Girard, associate professor of history and department head at McNeese State University gave an excellent presentation at our Bayou Writers' Group meeting yesterday.  The reason I'm writing about this is because not only was his topic fascinating, but he shared with us the five years it took him to research his book "The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian War of Independence (University of Alabama Press, 2011).  Dr. Girard's native language is French, and at times it was a little hard to understand.  His enthusiasm and education on the subject makes me want to enroll in one of his history classes just to listen to him speak.  I forgot what true French sounds like! As usual, I took notes:
  • 200 years ago Saint-Domingue was the world's leading exporter of sugar and coffee.  (WORLD'S largest, according to Dr. Girard.)  Now, present-day Haiti is one of the poorest countries.
  • Toussant Louverture was a slave who became a freedman who became a land owner and slave owner who then became a leader and finally governor of Haiti (sounds a bit like the movie Gladiator, huh?)
  • In 1803 Napolean's interest in Haiti and it's supporter Louisiana diminished, and he wondered how to get rid of Louisiana. At the same time, Jefferson and his team showed up in France to buy that piece of property.  Odd coincidence.
  • Haiti wasn't recognized by the United States as a country until 1863 (two years into the Civil War).
  • In 1794, France was the first country in the world to abolish slavery.  70 years before the U.S..
After his presentation, lots of members asked questions.  It was an excellent meeting and I encourage visitors to come.  You never know who will show up at the BWG meetings.  Our next meeting is Sat, March 3 at 10:00 am at the Carnegie Library on Pujo St in Lake Charles.  See our website at

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Inspirations Anyone?

As a writer, I find inspiration all around me:  conversations, traffic, watching people (and listening), photos, memories, thoughts, gestures, mannerisms, etc....

Have you ever based a piece of work, say a poem or short story, on another piece of work?  I have.  Twice actually.  They're short poems, but inspired by another person's creation.  I always include the credit at the top of the piece, and verbalize it each time I share them aloud.  Just curious if anyone else has ever based your work on someone else's.  If so, how did it go?  Naturally, I'm not advocating taking credit for another person's work.  That's PLAGERISM - HELLO! 

Since we're all creators, and inspirations come from everywhere (and from no where sometimes), how do you incorporate your ideas into someone else's?  Just curious.

If you've never tried it, and something hits you - a song, a movie, a book, a photo, try it.  If you get stuck on writer's block, millions of resources are out there.  Just please remember to give proper credit!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bayou Writers' Group of Lake Charles

     Yesterday was the first meeting of 2012 for my writing group, and what a way to begin the new year!  We had such a great time at our meeting.  Dry Creek author Curt Iles gave an excellent presentation about his research for his ninth book "A Spent Bullet."  Time flew by, as it always does.  Along with "A Spent Bullet," he also has a companion children's book.  After the meeting broke, many of us continued visiting at Ryan's for lunch.
     If you're looking for a writing group, check out  We'd love to have you.  Our membership is growing, we're involved in the community, and each November we host a writing conference.  We're in the process of securing an excellent group of speakers for this year.  I encourage you to get serious about your writing before you wake up one day and realize you're 70 years old and never wrote that book you wanted to write.  We'll help you with resources, editing, feedback, but most importantly we'll help you make new friends.
     Speaking of being involved in the community, some of us read our poetry at The Porch Coffee House in Lake Charles Friday night.  The First Friday Reading Series is sponsored by the Arts & Humanitites and is held on the first Friday of each month.  Bayou Writers' Group was the first group invited to read last January and to help celebrate the event's one-year anniversary, we were invited back.  We had a blast!
     If you're a writer, or want to be a writer, come check out the Bayou Writers' Group.  We'd love to have you.  Keep an eye on our website as we update conference details throughout the year.