Tag Archives: Words and Music

Who’s got the brag?

I think this may end up being my most massive brag ever.

As usual, Tad has done a fabulous job of keeping track of Peauxdunquian achievements in real time. For instance that Cassie Pruyn is second runner up in the Faulkner-Wisdom’s poetry category, that J.Ed Marston and Tad Bartlett are both finalists, that Maurice Ruffin’s upcoming reading October 3rd, plus much, much more. So I hope you have the Peauxdunque blog bookmarked.

Jeff Roedel was one of 30 writers asked to write a story responding to a photograph by William Greiner for the book Show & Tell.

The Spring 2013 issue of The Eudora Welty Review features Alison Graham-Bertolini’s “Searching for the Garnet Pin.”

The Devil In Her Way by Bill Loehfelm was a “best new local book” on the Best of New Orleans list, picked by Gambit readers.

Ava Leavell Haymon is now Louisiana’s Poet Laureate! Her official induction will be October 24th. Also, her new book of poetry Eldest Daughter was published recently. I attended two events this week where she read from the book, including at a Women’s Week event yesterday at the Baton Rouge Art Gallery, along with Jamey Hatley and several amazing women writers.

Dispensations by Randolph Thomas won the New Rivers Press MVP Prize and will be published soon!

Jenn Nunes has three short fiction pieces at Fiction Southeast.

Blood a Cold Blue by James Claffey is now available. The official launch is this Friday! I love this blog post from his wife Maureen Foley, about being a couple who both write and both of their books being published at the same time.

Che Yeun’s story “One in Ten Fish Are Afraid of Water” has been selected as the winner of Philadelphia Stories‘ Marguerite McGlinn National Prize for Fiction.

Jewel Bush has written several articles for The Uptown Messenger, including a recent one celebrating the 30th anniversary of Community Book Center.

The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans by Susan Larson has been published!

Cam Terwilliger will be writing an ongoing “field notes” series about his year in Montreal on a Fulbright Scholarship.

L. Kasimu Harris was featured on WDSU‘s pregame show tonight and was photographed by Daymon Gardner for the December issue of Travel + Leisure, which will be available in Nov. Check out this picture that Giancarlo Dagostaro took of the session.


NOVAC’s Web Weekend has three more days to raise the last $200 of their $5,000 Kickstarter campaign goal. Go check out what they have planned for the Weekend, next month, and see the swag they’re offering their backers. Eritria Pitts of She is Alex will be part of the Web Weekend and you can check out her short “Blind Date” to whet your appetite.

Speaking of Kickstarter campaigns… I don’t technically know JJ Tiziou, but I kinda feel like I do since his project “Everyone Is Photogenic” is changing my life. Ever since I saw the video for the campaign, I can’t tell you how many many times I’ve heard someone I care about respond badly to a photograph of themselves. Whenever they do this lately, I bring up this project and we have a great conversation about confidence and photography and beauty.

The t.v. show I spent part of last year and the first half of this year working on has released an incredible trailer. I get chills every time I watch it. The show, True Detective. will air on HBO early next year. Makes me very proud to have been part of it.

Speaking of being proud of a project, 12 Years a Slave opens on the 18th and I’m eager to see it. Hearing the Oscar talk now reminds me of the conversations we had while working on it last year – we knew it was special and we knew it was important. It’s going to be incredibly emotional to watch and I’m so glad it got made.

Since I promised that I will self-brag when appropriate, here’s some news about me and my work. Since my last brag, my reviews of Bill Loehfelm’s The Devil in Her Way and Suzanne Johnson’s Elysian Fields were published in 225. Karin C. Davidson interviewed me for Hothouse Magazine. It was a great experience and I’m honored to be a part of this series, which includes great interviews with Brad Richard and Andrew Lam, among others.

Next month, on the 26th, I will read “Tango Face” at a special event at Cafe Istanbul. Orquesta Fleur will play live tango music, there will be dancing and readings about tango and its history. Should be very cool. At the Louisiana Book Festival (Nov 2nd), I will be conducting a live interview with Josh Hanagarne, author The World’s Strongest Librarian, and presenting a panel with fellow Peauxdunque members Tad Bartlett, Susan Kagan and Maurice Ruffin, which is pretty exciting. And shortly after that, “Tango Face” will be published in the Double Dealer, coinciding with this year’s Words and Music Festival (Dec 4-8). The last quarter of 2013 is looking to be very productive.

Speaking of quarters…I owe y’all my 3rd Quarter Review soon. I hope you enjoy all of this bragging for now – these people and these projects are amazing, so go spend some time with them.


Filed under art, Baton Rouge, books, bragging on, coolness, freelance work, Friends, movies, New Orleans, poetry, pop culture

NaNoWriMo 2012 Day 28

It feels a bit strange not to be posting an update today. So, I guess I will.

Today was the first day of the Words & Music  Conference, which is why I wanted to finish my words early. The conference has only just begun and already I have been blown away and inspired. First, by the readers at the Writers Alliance reading, who were all phenomenal. It was also the first time I’d read my work in a while and I was lucky enough to have two neighbors (and great friends!) in the audience. Then, the sneak previews of Rosary O’Neill’s “Marilyn/God” and John Biguenet’s “Mold” were just astounding, and truly moving. And it’s only the beginning of the conference!

I want to encourage everyone who is still laboring with their NaNoWriMo word counts. Keep going! I’m thinking about you and pulling for you. You’ve got this!

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Brag your heart out

The Words and Music Faulkner-Wisdom Award finalist and semi-finalist lists are up! There are some awesome Peauxdunque placements and many friends have been recognized. There may be additions to this later as those still in the running are listed only by title at the moment.

Novel category finalists (short and long list) include:

Helen Krieger‘s Don’t Cry Little Monster

Sabrina Canfield‘s Birds of Paradise

Tad Bartlett & J.Ed Marston‘s Kites, Quite Tall

Mark Spitzer‘s Monstropocalypse

Novel-in-Progress finalists include:

Missy Wilkinson‘s Life During the Plague Years

James Claffey‘s Motion of Souls

Sabrina Canfield‘s To The Place Where They Go

Susan Kirby-Smith‘s Desert Humidity

Short story finalists include:

Helen Krieger‘s Okay, So You Talk

Jennifer Nunes‘s Buy One, Get One

J.Ed Marston‘s No Accidental Fall

Tad Bartlett‘s The Non-Artists

*Maurice Ruffin‘s Ten Stories and Terri Stoor‘s A Bellyful of Sorrow are both still in the running.

Essay finalists:

Sabrina Canfield‘s Spring Sparks Sure Shot

Nefertiti Austin‘s Barack Obama Made a Liar Out of Me

*Terri Stoor‘s Bird Dog is still in the running.

Poetry finalists include:

Claire Dixon‘s The Deep End

Jenn Marie Nunes‘s Only Daughter

*Tad Bartlet‘s new century/old century, three acts and J.Ed Marston‘s Voyage of the Limit Perfected Fish are both still in the running.

Please let me know if I’ve forgotten or missed anyone!

Congrats to everybody and good luck to those still in the running!

In other news, Ronlyn Domingue has finished the first of two books that developed from one epic novel that she’s been writing. They are “independent but wholly interconnected,” Ronlyn says. She continues writing the second.

I have three pieces in this month’s 225 Magazine. One is a profile of Jeanne Leiby and her book of short stories. One is a review of the Baton Rouge One Book One Community selection CRAZY. And one is a review of Chris Tusa’s Dirty Little Angels. Also, I reviewed Hollywood Car Wash over at NOLAFemmes.

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NaNoWriMo Day 26 (Fess Up Friday)

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been updating. I’ve noticed. Mostly, it was because I wasn’t writing. I was so tired most days after work, it was all I could do to keep regularly scheduled programming going, let alone write 2,000 words. It didn’t help that I lost any connection I might’ve had to my characters and story. I didn’t look forward to visiting them. They were boring and whiny and disappointing. That’s probably what happens when I write from an “idea,” rather than from character and genuine story. A lesson for the future.

But then, quietly, I started hand writing something entirely different than Story 1 or Story 2. It was a fictionalized version of something that happened to me. Something intensely personal that I feel desperate to write about, but haven’t because I know I’ll likely never do anything — i.e. publish — with the work. But you know, why not just write it now, for me? Why not write something that I need to write without caring that it’s “unproductive”?

And the reason I started writing again this NaNoWriMo season, the reason I started writing this intensely personal unpublishable story is because a friend started asking me questions while a bunch of us were out drinking during Words and Music last weekend. And I realized, as I answered his questions, that I had a lot to say. And it needed to be said whether it was published, whether anyone read it, whether anyone listened.

So maybe that’s what NaNoWriMo is really about, at least for me. Sometimes you just have to write. Stop thinking about the end game and the process and the ramifications of success and failure and just write.

I’d kind of given up on “winning” NaNoWriMo. I was too far behind and only writing in 700-800 increments before falling asleep. Which is something, but isn’t winning material. I didn’t think about it because it made me sad. And tired. Plenty tired. But, once more, a friend said something that got my wheels turning. Another friend, J. wrote on my Facebook page:

“Memories. Going to do some NaNo writing at Perks tomorrow. Thought about last Black Friday when I met you there and you helped spur a 5,000 word day that put me over 50K.  Thanks again and I hope you’re having a great holiday.”

And talk about sad!! Not only did I remember *exactly* the day he was talking about, I wrote about it here on the blog. J. helped me get over the hurdle last year and he was the first person I word warred with. And, I realized right then and there (last night) that I was winning NaNoWriMo 2010, come hell or high water. If only so that I would no longer invest in the idea of an “even year curse,” for future NaNoWriMo years. If only to prove to myself that I could write 50,000 without a great story or awesome characters. If only to prove to myself what I can do.

That being said, my word count went from 24,916 words going into this new motivation to 31,532 words today. I wrote 6,351 words today. And I spent time with my parents. And cleaned the kitchen.

My parents and I watched Knucklehead, the first of  the six WWE movies filmed in New Orleans in the last year (three of which I worked on). At first, my parents were like a lot of people and assumed they wouldn’t enjoy the WWE movies. Mamma Mia! said, “I’m not much into wrestling movies.” I assured them the movies aren’t what anybody expects them to be. They often include wrestling and wrestlers, but they’re funny and entertaining and well-acted. My parents were laughing all through Knucklehead and really invested. It was great to share with them. As it was great to share Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 with them this evening. I’m such a sap. I almost started crying not even five minutes into the movie. But the books and the movies have been a huge part of my life, so I guess that’s to be expected.

Thanks to the friend who asked me questions last weekend, J. for his friendly Facebook post and everyone who word warred and sprinted with me today. Thanks to my parents for giving me the time to write when I asked. Let’s see if we can do it all over again tomorrow. And the next day. And then for two more.


Filed under bragging on, family, Fess Up Friday, Friends, funny, movies, NaNoWriMo, New Orleans, pop culture, weirdness, writing updates

NaNoWriMo Day 21

This week, I was stuck. Majorly stuck. And I haven’t unstuck myself just yet, but I thought you’d like to see this photograph of the Peauxdunque Writer’s Alliance during Words and Music this weekend. We’re missing a few members, including two new ones. It’s an odd photograph cause none of us were really ready yet and we’re grouped really oddly, but I like it anyway. Actually, I like it because of the strange grouping and because of the graffiti behind us and the New Orleans street stretching out just beyond us. And there’s a second I stole from Tad, taken by our waitress at Sylvain. I think Peauxdunque will one day be legendary for taking the most creatively odd group photographs. That and fostering numerous talented writers.

Sabrina, Terri, Me, Tad, Maurice and J.Ed

Tad, J.Ed, Terri, Me, Sabrina, Jamey, Maurice and Janice

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NaNoWriMo Day 17

Completely heartsick that I missed my fellow Peauxdunquers read at Words and Music.

But what’s more, I completely hate my characters and story. I think that’s why it’s been so hard to write. I’d much rather watch clips of I Love Lucy on YouTube.


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NaNoWriMo Day 15 & 16

No new words. Too much going on. Lots of work, a freelance deadline and getting ready for Words and Music and Thanksgiving. Plus, I’m trying to convince myself that my even numbered years doing NaNoWriMo are not cursed, as 2008 is the only year I didn’t win NaNoWriMo since I started (2007). It’s silly to believe in a little thing like a curse, even if I am inhumanely busy this year. I promise I will write tomorrow. I’m now behind, stuck at 23,497, when I should have 26,672.

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Brag is the word

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a little while. On the 28th, you’ll be able to catch Dave’s work on the National Geographic channel. He did the music for After the Spill: The Last Catch, a documentary about the aftermath of the oil spill and small fishing communities in South Louisiana.

After the Spill: The Last Catch Tuesday, September 28, 9 PM ET/PT

Produced & Directed by Jonathan Stack and Saralena Weinfeld
Edited by Brock Labrenz
Music by Dave Golden

So proud of Dave!

Tomorrow, September 2  6th, Readers and Writers is kicking off its new season with Allen Wier and Panthea Reid celebrating Best of LSU Fiction at 5 p.m. at the LSU School of Music Recital Hall.

This has been long overdue, as well, but several members of Peauxdunque, as well as friends of mine from LSU, have been recognized in the Wisdom-Faulkner Competition. As I did last year, I’m going to congratulate them here.

Shane Noecker, Susan Kirby-Smith and Peauxdunquers Tad Bartlett/J. Ed. Marston (on the short list of finalists for the novel category); Peauxdunquer Sabrina Canfield and Mark Spitzer (short list of finalists for novella); Jenn Nunes (short list of finalists for novel-in-progress); Susan Kirby-Smith again (semi-finalist for novel-in-progress);  Peauxdunquers Maurice Carlos Ruffin (finalist AND on the short list of finalists for two different short stories) and Terri Stoor (short list of finalists for short story); Tad Bartlett again (finalist for essay).

I may have more names to add soon as the finalists are all still anonymous until winners are named today.

And since others have been bragging on me, I have to step up and do it myself. I was recently promoted to assistant editor at Narrative Magazine, which is super exciting and makes me feel continually plugged in to the community of writers. Which is essential because I’ve been spending most of my time on the satellite planet of Harawood–the local film industry–lately. Much as I love my job–maybe because I love my job–it’s been so good to spend my free time reading critically. It brings me back to an important place and helps ground me.

Speaking of Harawood and my lovely job — Maurice just told me there’s a write-up on WWE Nola in today’s Times-Picayune. Luckily, somebody had left behind a copy of the paper and it was conveniently at my very own table at Cheers. WWE has been a blast to work for and I’m so proud to be a part of the movies they’ve made in New Orleans. Now I get to brag on them, as well. They’ve recently gotten a few write-ups in USA Today, as well.

I’ll leave you with a photo taken by Rachel Chotin at the Prelude Launch Party, of Maurice, me and a gentleman named Jason.


Filed under book news, bragging on, freelance work, Friends, literature, New Orleans

Emilie, WHERE have you been?!?

Whew, y’all. Life got hectic there for a while. Unbelievably so.

First. NaNoWriMo is pretty intense and that took up some of my time, getting that 1,667 words written every day. I did some other freelance gigs, as I always do, kept my eye out for jobs and even interviewed for one.

And then Words and Music came to town, as it does every year round this time. My approach was different this year than any other since I started going. I recently “finished” my book, only to realize that it was a pretty solid second draft, but that there’s so much I need and want to change. Therefore, I’m about to go into the third draft, which I hope will be the last until it sells and my editor has comments. Wishful thinking, but hopefully not that far off. So since I don’t have something to sell at the moment and so many of my friends were going to be in town, I decided that this year was all about my friends. Everything I did at Words and Music would revolve around them and spending time with them. And though conference days are always crazy long and overwhelming and that was true at Words and Music, too, I wasn’t really stressed out or overwhelmed and I enjoyed my friends so very much. For instance?

Thursday was the first day of the conference, for me. I got to catch up with S., who moved to St. Louis after we both graduated the MFA and I haven’t seen her since probably last years W&M, though we talk online regularly and sometimes on the phone. She was staying with P., and the three of us met up with Jamey and Barb at Stanley’s (yum) and then for cocktails with conference folks at the Faulkner House Bookstore. Where we met up with our friend Jane, who won the novel-in-progress this year (congrats, Jane!) and I met Helen Krieger, who I quickly bonded with. Especially after I asked her to guest lecture for my class the following week. Helen and her husband Joseph Meissner just finished production of a feature-length film based on Helen’s short stories, called Flood Streets. On Friday morning, I witnessed the enormously fun and inspiring panel that both Jamey and Barb sat on, along with Tom Franklin and their moderator Michael Murphy. I spent the day having incredible meals, conversations and experiences that included a Pimm’s Cup and lunch at the Napoleon House, a room full of women writers, a gorgeous dinner at the Monteleone and cocktails back at the Napoleon House again, replete with tall tales. On Saturday, I had lunch with my Papa Bear who was in town working near the conference, then dived back in, enjoying a day that included friends, Dennis Lehane, opera and an unforgettable dinner with entertainment provided by Wes & Eugene’s Cabinet of Wonders. This was a mind-blowing combination of comedy and music by writers and musicians such as Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding), Eugene Mirman, Laura Lippman, Rick Moody, Laurie Lindeen, Tom Piazza and Soul Asylum‘s Dave Pirner, who sang “Runaway Train,” for us. You can see what I mean by mind-blowing. Where else can you have all these experiences in one place?

And that’s not even mentioning my lovely friends who placed this year. I mentioned it before in a bragging on post, but it bears repeating. Congratulations to: Jane Stubbs (novel-in-progress winner and finalist, and short story semi-finalist), Jessica Deckard (essay winner), Cara E. Jones (essay finalist), Maurice Ruffin (short story finalist), Jenn Nunes (novel-in-progress finalist as well as short story semi-finalist), Helen Krieger (novel-in-progress finalist and short story finalist) , Susan Kirby-Smith (novel-in-progress finalist and poetry finalist), Sean David Hobbs (novel-in-progress semi-finalist), Penelope Dane (novel-in-progress finalist), Missy Wilkinson (novella finalist – TWICE!), Duncan Kemp (novel-in-progress finalist), Maggie Collins (novel finalist), J. Ed. Marston and Tad Bartlett (novel finalist), and Mark Spitzer (novel finalist). In the chaos of all the talented people on that list, I’m sure I might’ve forgotten somebody or mistyped something, so check out all the results here. Regardless, the clear result is that these people rock. We’ve got something good going on in Louisiana, especially New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

On Sunday, I recovered, packed for Baton Rouge and saw New Moon with a friend. May talk about that, soon. Haven’t decided yet…

And then, I spent an incredibly overwhelming and exhausting and wonderful three days teaching a screenwriting course to high school kids at LSU. This was so rewarding! And did I mention exhausting? For all of us, I imagine, me and the students. I think I exploded their brains. These kids were hanging out with me on their Thanksgiving vacation and it was just an incredible experience that, with any luck, I’ll repeat in the summer in a longer week-long format. We all knew this pilot 3-day session was too much information crammed into too little time, but we had to try it out. And I think the kids and I did pretty darn well together. I was very excited to see their ideas for movies and can’t wait to see what they do with them. But, if I exploded their minds, teaching in that format killed my body, especially after all the NaNo writing this month. So, I rewarded myself with a  massage at my favorite place in Baton Rouge. It was tip top and lovely and just right.

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful Thanksgiving, first an early one with Toni‘s family (who I adore), then on the actual day with B. and friends at her place and then some lovely friends from grad school at an apartment that two people I mentioned in association with W&M have lived in over the years (S. and now, P.). Lol. Triple the turkey for me this year, though I didn’t get to see my family.

On Friday, before returning to New Orleans, I was lucky enough to meet a fellow with the same name as a famous singer, who is a writer and comedian. I saw J.‘s NaNoWriMo sticker on his laptop, talked with him a bit, invited him to sit with me and then had my first ever Word Wars. We did three half hour word wars back to back and though I beat him each time, he was definitely further along than me and finished his 50,000 words first. And I’m not sure what would’ve happened if I hadn’t met him. He gave me a giant boost that day with the word wars and just meeting him. It helped get me back into the NaNoWriMo mindset after a lot of distractions.

And that brings us full circle. Keep your eyes peeled for NaNoWriMo recap and wrap up posts from both me and my sister, Aimee, who I mentioned in my guest blog at the end of October, NaNoWriMo Saved My Life. In that post, I talked about how Aimee and I used to write together as kids and had both sort of lost our way with writing in recent years and how we were both attacking NaNoWriMo this year. Check it out while you’re waiting for those recaps.

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Getting to brag on some friends

On Wednesday, I opened up my e-mail newsletter of Publisher’s Lunch and read a hysterical blurb for a recently-sold book, realizing that the recently-sold book is by one of my first fiction teachers at LSU! We’d caught up a few years ago at AWP and through Facebook, so I got to congratulate her the old fashioned personal way (if not old fashioned face-to-face) and now I’m congratulating her publicly and *commanding* all of you to write down the name of this book, cause you’re going to love it:

Robin Becker‘s BRAINS: a zombie memoir, the first-person account of a college professor-turned-zombie who retains his sentience and recruits others like him on a heroic quest to fend off the living while searching for the meaning of un-life, to Gabe Robinson at Harper, in a nice deal, for publication in Summer 2010, by Janet Reid at FinePrint Literary Management (NA).

Then, on Friday, it came to my attention that finalist results for the Faulkner-Wisdom awards were up on the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society website. Without further ado, congratulation shout-outs to:

Maurice Ruffin (short story finalist, still in the competition), Jenn Nunes (novel-in-progress finalist as well as short story semi-finalist), Jane Stubbs (novel-in-progress finalist), Susan Kirby-Smith (novel-in-progress finalist), Penelope Dane (novel-in-progress finalist), Mark Spitzer (novel finalist and husband to Robin Becker above), Missy Wilkinson and yours truly (finalists for the novel category).

In Maurice’s Facebook note “A Fine Time to Be a Teller of Tales,” he said something that really struck me:

…I think this news is proof that we have a strong community of writers in New Orleans. I also think that 100 years from now people will look back at the stuff we made and ask “what on Earth was going on in New Orleans?” “Jamey Hatley and Emilie Staat were coffeeshop mates?” “Maurice Ruffin knew Terri Stoor?” “Bartlett and Marston wrote a novel together…via the internet? That’s crazy.”

I’m so glad to be included in such a constellation of bright lights and so very proud of everybody, especially all those LSU folks. Jamey Hatley won the novel in progress award just a little while ago, as did my dear friend Mary McMyne, both of whose novels are *highly* anticipated. I can’t tell you how honored I’ve always been to be among such talented people, to get the chance to learn from them.

And then there’s Barb Johnson, who recently won the highly prestigious Gift of Freedom and whose book More of This World or Maybe Another is out in October. Write that title down as well.

And these are just a handful of the folks who have big, bright news about their writing at the moment. We have such a great community of incredible writers here in South Louisiana. I look forward to lots more news in the near and foreseeable future and I also anticipate seeing many of these folks at Words & Music and the Louisiana Book Festival, if not sooner. Can’t wait! Congratulations everybody!


Filed under book news, bragging on, Friends, New Orleans