Wednesday, May 15, 2024

A Memory of New Orleans and Katrina . . .

These days marked by concern over global warming, brought me to thoughts of Katrina, that Category 5 storm that devastated New Orleans and its surrounding burroughs back in August of 2005. Nearly 2,000 people died. The economic effects were measured with losses of about 130 billion dollars.

Three years after Katrina, we went to the Gulf. Our buddy was still living in a FEMA trailer and shuffling through contractors to rebuild his house after three feet of river sludge changed the shape of the 9th Ward.

So, we went down to New Orleans, rented a basement apartment that smelled like the Mississippi, and we worked at the library, unpacking donated books, sorting them into what could be redeemed, some so musty from Katrina it didn't matter who wrote them.

New Orleans was as fourth as big as it had been, cars navigated past potholes, strip malls were all boarded up, even Fats Domino's house had been abandoned. The neighborhood had a party when Piggly-Wiggly reopened. 

Wherever we went, we heard stories of what happened when Katrina blasted in and the levees failed.

Then our buddy said we had to go see the Indian parade.

You'd hardly know slaves had been kept if you visited any of the sugar plantations out on the delta, restored white antebellum gentility, not a hint of slavery. But once slaves worked the land, as ordinary as mint juleps on the veranda. Some escaped to the bayou, and when men with dogs came hunting, they hid with the natives. The Indian parade began sometime mid-19th Century with secret societies forming tribes, part thank you, part coming-of-age for young black men, part pure survival through post-Civil War segregation.

We lay on the grass at Marcus Garvey Park as families gathered, smelled barbeque, and lapped up the gravelly blues and jazz of Dr. John and gospel singers, their voices a honey-toned prayer.

Around the park, boarded up houses, their roofs long gone, reminded us of Katrina, and the fear that comes in the night and the next morning, when no one knows how the world will be put back together, but no one looked at the neighborhood.

"They're coming," someone cried, and we all ran to the street. There's no describing the music, the horns and the beat of the drums, the elaborate costumes, dyed chicken feathers, beads, glitter, gleaming and bouncing in the sun as each group of dancers passed. 

And we danced behind them for sheer joy, for the sun was shining and it didn't matter if you were black or white, or somewhere in between, for you were here, in this place, part of this community, bringing New Orleans back to life.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

IWSG: May . . . Distractions!

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day and Writing Distractions

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Let's visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Special thanks go to the co-hosts for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Victoria Marie Lees, Kim Lajevardi, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine! 

May 1 question - How do you deal with distractions when you are writing? Do they derail you?

What a great question for this month. Especially for May . . . spring flowers, warmer weather, green grass, the sound of lawnmowers, and finally, perhaps, leaving winter behind (though I did see snow on the ground last week).

I had a BIG distraction in March, and, yes, it derailed me. I was unable to write, really plunged to the bottom of a well of self-doubt. Certain things that shall remain unnamed conspired to force me to look again at my childhood, memories I did not want to revisit. April began and I challenged myself. Even though I did not believe I could do it, I set a goal of writing 4,000 words on my current wip, a police procedural. I also agreed to run two writing workshops at the end of April. 

What is commitment, after all? That promise we make to ourselves, that hope that somehow we can bring about change, positive change. So, I signed up for NaNoWriMo's April Writing Challenge. Each day became a little easier. By the middle of the month, I was writing again and enjoying the whole process of telling my story. Affirmations! By April 30, I wrote 8,109 words.

And those two workshops, a part of 4 free workshops for a small group of writers sponsored by our local library and the Inland Northwest Writer's Guild, were simply wonderful. I learned so much from the writers who shared their works as we dug into genres, themes, characters, conflict, and settings. 

Was there more? Yes. Colin Conway, an excellent and prolific writer of police procedurals, taught a workshop on branding. Everyone stayed. I was entranced at his discussion of how we writers can better market ourselves to reach those readers who care about what stories we tell. I'm hoping to begin to make changes . . . starting with the blog AND my newsletter. 

So, if YOU haven't signed up for my newsletter and want to see more, go ahead. Sign up by filling out the box on the right hand side of this blog. If you have any trouble, just drop me a line at   

What you can expect in the newsletter? More about writing -- my own writing, what goes on behind the scenes with characters, plot twists, and more. And a little more about what you want to know! Send me those questions. I truly want to hear from you!

And now, here's a picture from the past. Who's that nerdy 6th grader with glasses? That's me!

Click on this link to see what other IWSG writers are up to this month: Insecure Writing Support Group,  

May spring be very special for us all -- with few distractions!