Tag Archives: New Orleans

Interview with New Orleans Native Deborah Dupre on new book

Deborah DupreNew Orleans native Deborah Dupré reports censored human rights news stories. With Science and Ed. Specialist Grad Degrees from U.S. and Australian universities, Dupré’s been a human and Earth rights advocate over 30 years in those countries and Vanuatu. Her unique humanitarian-based research and development work, including in some of the world’s least developed and most remote areas, led her to write articles appearing in dozens of popular print and Internet media internationally.

Her latest book is the nonfiction, Vampire of Macondo.

Visit her column at Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/user-gdeborahdupre

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Vampire of MacondoQ: Thank you so much for this interview, Deborah. Can you tell us where you are from?

Thank you for this opportunity. I’m from south Louisiana, a native of New Orleans, reared in Baton Rouge, and spent my most cherished childhood days on Grand Bayou swamplands where relations lived.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

The Vampire part of the title is derived from the thousands of children and adults who have been bleeding from BP’s 2010 crude oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and from the U.S. military supported carpet-bombing of Corexit to cover up this oil. The horrific bleeding involved in this catastrophe has been covered up, as though a vampire in the dark of night has been literally sucking life-blood from innocent prey, people along the Gulf Coast.

The Macondo part of the title is from the name of the Gulf well where BP was drilling in 2010 at unprecedented depths before its leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded with methane gas, initially killing eleven men. Oil from Macondo that is still filling the Gulf, that BP tried to sweep under the sand, has only this past week, become all too obvious in the news.

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

After describing highlights of Vampire of Macondo to my best friend, Vickie Beveridge, she told me she “could see the cover.” She described the young Cajun woman bleeding, as featured in Chapter One of the book, standing on the Gulf beach with a bleeding-to-death Gulf dolphin. Thousands of dolphins have died. Thousands have been collected and disposed before reaching shore. Many keep washing ashore. Many have been bleeding internally, as Corexit is designed to do according to an EPA whistleblower highlighted in Vampire of Macondo. BP crude oil combined with Corexit is 52 times more lethal than crude oil alone, according to a new research paper that I reported the first week of December.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

This story impacts all of us, from most of us who eat poisoned Gulf seafood, to most of us who fill the tanks of gas-guzzlers with blood-tainted gasoline instead of driving sustainable vehicles, to all of us whose taxes support fossil fuel subsidies five times as much as sustainable energy. Most people don’t understand this vicious arithmetic because the powers that be don’t want us to know. Now, after reading Vampire of Macondo, the public has a chance to learn, and to act.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

Everyone likes talking about self. I’m no different, so I enjoyed the first chapter where I related my personal life, my experiences in south Louisiana as a child, my love of the bayous and kinfolks there, and my heritage’s impact on my perception of the Gulf oil violence.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

As a human rights defender and native of south Louisiana, I knew in my heart that abuses committed in this ongoing blood for oil crime needed revealing, but nobody had documented it in a user-friendly way so the world would know the truth. I believe in pushing the world forward, away from military-petrochemical-industrial-complex imperialistic violence and toward peaceful coexistence.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

I’ve been reluctant to reveal the targeting as a human rights advocate that I’ve experienced. I do not want to give energy to the reality of that dark force when I can use that time for positive energy and endeavors.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I always want to travel to where my children are. There’s nothing in the world as important or rewarding as quality time with family. Aside from that, I’m an island lady, so an island get-away is always appealing. Bhutan, where gross national happiness officially trumps gross national profit, is one of the only other places I hope to visit.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Definitely morning. I do my most creative writing in the still and quiet of the early hours, often before sun-up.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

My father and closest aunt were gifted writers. My sister is also an excellent writer. My husband has written three books and edited one. One of my sons has made three documentaries on alternative fuels and the crimes of the petrochemical-military-industrial complex.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Yes. I had academic trouble in early years at school for that reason. I remember carrying caterpillars into class and putting them on my desk. Because of my “dreaming,” I was also the student most often winning creativity awards throughout my school days. One year at camp, I won the Mad-hatters contest with my hat, a little cage I made of lashed sticks, a little door and a thatched roof, complete with tiny tree frogs singing in it.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

I wish that before I die, I can enjoy living close to my immediate family and seeing humanity’s non-violence and empowerment by replacing dirty, dangerous, unhealthy energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear with clean, safe, healthy renewable energy such as solar, wind, bio-fuels from marginal land unsuitable for food, and tidal energy.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

Thank you for this opportunity to contribute to a world based on human rights rather than militarized corporate greed.

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Book Review: Behind the Columns by Arlette Gaffrey

 

Arlette Gaffrey’s Behind the Columns is a well-written, compelling historical novel about the romance between a young Creole belle and a handsome, charismatic New Yorker.

New Orleans, 1847.

Having lost both her parents at an early age, Désirée Bordeaux lives with her grandfather, a man with a weakness for drink and gambling. When he suddenly dies, Désirée finds herself in a desperate situation as her beloved plantation Chêne Vue must be auctioned off.

Philippe Jaunet, a hateful man–also a heavy drinker and gambler–who used to know her grandfather, is intent on marrying her, getting the plantation for himself and use it to pay his own debts.

To add to her unhappiness, the man she thinks she loves and whom she believes promised her marriage when she was but a child of ten, has married another woman.

Enter handsome and wealthy Lance Van Buren, who immediately is mesmerized by Désirée’s stunning beauty and feisty, proud personality. At first, she despises him, even though he evokes in her the most sensual, unsettling feelings. Then, to her surprise, she discovers that he has won the auction and is the new owner of Chêne Vue. But nothing prepares her for the next shock: he proposes marriage.

Behind the Columns is an entertaining, fast-paced read. Passion and intrigue abound as the novel follows the lives of Désirée and Lance as they marry, move to New York for a while, and have their first child back in New Orleans. Philippe Jaunet remains a villain until the end, haunting Désirée and filling her nights with nightmares. In New York, she must face another villain in the shape of Inga, Lance’s sister in law. Love, passion, lies, jealousy–readers will find their share in this book,and then some.

Gaffrey does an excellent job in bringing the old South and the Creole society to life: the food, the fashion, the way of life, the values and beliefs, etc. There’s also a lot of interesting information about Creole history which I found fascinating. In short, if you love historical Southern romances a la Gone with the Wind, you’ll enjoy Behind the Columns.

Find on Amazon.

Visit the author’s website.

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Blog Tour + Interview: Whitney Stewart, author of ‘Give Me a Break: No Fuss Meditation’

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Whitney Stewart began writing young adult biographies and meditating after she met and interviewed the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the subject of two of her books, and lived with a Tibetan family in India. For her next biographies, she trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in Nepal, interviewed Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in her Rangoon home, and climbed along China’s Great Wall to research the lives of Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong. In 2004, Stewart published a picture book about the Buddha, which contains a foreword and a meditation suggestion from the 14th Dalai Lama. In addition to nonfiction books, Stewart has published three middle-grade novels. In August 2005, Stewart was trapped in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and evacuated by helicopter from a rooftop. She returned home and volunteered as a creative writing teacher in the public schools. She discovered that her students suffered from post-Katrina stress. Using meditation, improvisation, and word play, Stewart taught her students to write about their lives.

Her latest book is Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation.

You can find more about Whitney Stewart at her website at http://www.whitneystewart.com.  Follow her at Twitter at www.twitter.com/mindfulneworlns and www.twitter.com/whitneystewart2 and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/New.Orleans.Kids.Author.

About Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation

Whitney Stewart’s straightforward, non-denominational guide makes meditation simple. It covers the basics in a concise thirty-three pages: Why meditation is good for you, how to sit, how to let your mind rest, even what to do if you feel weird or uncomfortable during meditation. Most important, it provides sixteen accessible, useful meditations you can easily learn at home. Age ten to adult.

Stewart’s top reasons to meditate:

*To focus inwardly

*To slow down internally

*To develop awareness

*To understand your mind

*To increase tolerance

*To experience “BIG MIND”

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Q: Thank you for this interview, Whitney. Can you tell us what your latest book, Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation, is all about?

My ebook is a simple, nondenominational guide to meditation. I include a short introduction and sixteen meditation practices that will help focus the mind. I also include answers to common questions people have about meditation

I wrote this book to communicate the benefits of meditation to anyone who wants to reduce stress, improve health, develop inner wisdom, lead a happier life, and experience a natural state of mind.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I have been a meditator for over twenty-five years, and I see how it has changed my life. During Hurricane Katrina, my son and I were trapped in a building in downtown New Orleans. We had to wait five days for helicopters to rescue us. During that time, I used meditation as a means of staying calm, alleviating fear, and being mindful. When I returned to New Orleans, I volunteered as a creative writing teacher in a public school. I discovered that my students were often stressed, unhappy, and frightened every time the weather turned stormy. They could not concentrate on their work. I taught them to meditate before we did our creative writing exercises. Many of them told me how much they loved to meditate at the beginning of class. This gave me the idea of writing a nondenominational meditation guide that was easy enough for children and detailed enough for adults. My guide is meant for beginners.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

I first learned to meditate when I was in high school. And then in 1987, I joined a meditation center and studied with several Tibetan Buddhist teachers. That led me to taking multiple trips to Tibet, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Japan, and India where I practiced meditation with teachers. I also have a full personal library on Buddhism and meditation.

I have written two children’s books on the 14th Dalai Lama, which were based on interviews with him. In one interview, he suggested a meditation technique that was simple enough to teach children. I included this technique in my picture book Becoming Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha. Readers asked me for more techniques like that one, so I wrote this book, in part, because of their request.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

That meditation is a path to discovering your relaxed, open, natural state of mind.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Why Meditate?

Let’s face it. Life knocks you around. One minute

you’re happy. The next you want to scream. You don’t get

everything you want, and you don’t want everything you get.

You need a break. Meditation could be the answer.

Meditation calms you down. It helps you find your own

wisdom. It settles your nerves and fills your mind with

space.

 

Lots of people meditate——athletes, actors, dog

trainers, writers, and people like you. They do it wherever

they find a quiet spot——in the living room, in the back

yard, under a tree, in an empty classroom, in the library,

in a tent, on a mountaintop. You don’t have to join a

religious group to meditate. And you don’t have to change

anything about yourself. Meditation is about accepting

yourself with all the bumps and bruises.

 

So go ahead and see for yourself. This book gives you

different meditation exercises. You may not like them all.

That’s fine. Try them and see which ones work for you.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

Yes, it is hard to get any book published by a reputable publisher. I started publishing twenty years ago. I researched what publishers wanted and submitted selectively. I also researched my books thoroughly. I started by writing biographies of Nobel laureates and adventurers. If they were still alive, I interviewed them and people who knew them. I tried to find both a narrative hook and a marketing hook; I wanted to give my readers something they had not read before.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I wake up, meditate, and exercise (yoga and cardio) in the early morning, and write for the rest of the day, every day. Sometimes I take short meditation or movement breaks while I am writing, but I don’t answer the phone or chat with friends until my day’s writing is done. I work at home and often have to wear headphones and listen to ambient music to block out the noise of construction and lawn mowers in the neighborhood.

Q: What’s next for you?

I just finished revising a middle-grade novel set in New Orleans and sent it to my agent. It’s the story of a 14-year-old boy who is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. I look forward to the sale and publication of that book. I also have a picture book coming out with Windy Hollow Books in Australia. It’s a companion book to my Becoming Buddha and will be illustrated by the same illustrator, Sally Rippin. Last Spring I started writing an edgy young adult novel, and I hope to return to that manuscript in January.

Thank you so much for this interview, Whitney.  We wish you much success!

 

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Interview with Alexandrea Weis, author of ‘Recovery

Alexandrea Weis began writing at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen again and began her first novel To My Senses. Since that time she has writen several novels and sold two screenplays (White River and Blood Will Tell). Blood Will Tell is currently in pre-production with Buyer Group International. Her work has been critically acclaimed and is continually growing in popularity.

Her most recent book is Recovery, the second novel in the Nicci Beauvoir series which takes readers on a Big Easy thrill ride when a lover’s murder is solved and a spy with a bulletproof bravado quickens Nicci’s broken heart.

Alexandrea is also a permitted wildlife rehabber and works rescuing orphaned and injured animals. She recently has been working to aid oil soaked birds in the Gulf disaster.

You can visit Alexandrea’s website at www.alexandreaweis.com or connect with her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alexandreaweis.com and Facebook at www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/To-My-Senses/113609858681394.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Alexandrea. Can you tell us what your latest book, Recovery, is all about?

Set amid the backdrop of post-Katrina New Orleans, the story is about Nicci’ Beauvoir’s soulful search for Recovery. Once a darling of New Orleans society, Nicci pens a novel about her departed love, the artist David Alexander. While promoting her book in the Big Apple, she’s approached by David’s former boss, Simon La Roy, who has a theory about David’s death that devastates Nicci. She learns David’s murder may be linked to someone from her past. Enter Dallas August, an elite member of Simon’s organization of corporate spies prized for his ruthless ability to get the job done. Playing the part of Nicci’s lover, Dallas returns to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans with her to flush out the killer. But everything is not what is seems in the Big Easy, and soon the couple finds themselves trapped in a psychotic’s twisted game of revenge.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Nicci Beauvoir, the heroine, is a burgeoning writer drawn into the hunt for David Alexander’s killer by Dallas August, a distant man with a tragic past.  Together the two clash but then the common bond of searching for the murderer turns their relationship from adversarial to amorous. Nicci is supported by a rather sharp-tongued group of family members, whose wit and charm help to bring some wonderful humor into the story. The most prominent of these are Nicci’s father and uncle. Their brotherly banter provides a little bit of insight into why Nicci is the way that she is.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I feel it is a little of both. I find that every character I write has elements of people I know in them. I believe if you talk to any writer they will tell you that some of their best characters are based on people they have known. After all, isn’t that what fiction is all about? Reality blended with bits of imagination makes for the most compelling dramas.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

It develops as I write. I always see the end of the book first and then go from there. A book is an adventure to me because I never know where the story will take me.

Q: Your book is set in New Orleans.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

I am from New Orleans. It is the most eclectic, culturally diverse, and intriguing place I know. I have traveled a good bit in my life, but no place has ever been more interesting to me than the Big Easy. It is the most unique place on earth, and despite its negative press and sinister reputation, it is a part of me, and a part of everything that I write. Everyone always says write about what you know. Well, I know New Orleans.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes, I feel the characters recovery from their past emotional upheavals mirrors the rhythm of the resurrecting city of New Orleans. In the end, neither the city of New Orleans, nor Nicci Beauvoir, learns that they can ever forget about their tormented pasts. Instead, they both learn to grow from what they have been through and move on.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Dallas and Nicci are discovering that they make each other uncomfortable. It is a pivotal point in the book where the reader can feel the sexual tension building between the two main characters. For Nicci, it is the first moment where she realizes that Dallas has awakened something inside of her that she thought had died with David.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

The world had suddenly become a little darker for me, and for the first time in my life, I feared the future. I had survived the sharp-tongued insults of a snobby southern upbringing, the heartache of my mother’s death, betrayal, intrigue, engagement to a moron, and the loss of the only man I had ever loved. Even the devastation of Katrina had not dampened my belief in the eventuality of good. From all things bad something good does come, I was once told, and up until that moment in my life, I had believed it. But how do you sustain such hope when your faith in the certainty of tomorrow is threatened? What do you believe in when another is killing for control of your destiny?

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Alexandrea.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for having me today, and thank you to all of your readers. I hope you enjoy my second installment in the Nicci Beauvoir series and look forward to hearing what your readers have to say about Recovery.   

 

 

 

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Special Guest Feature: Doing Non Doing by George Earl Parker

Doing Non Doing
by George Earl Parker

George Earl Parker, singer, songwriter & author of VAMPYRE BLOOD - EIGHT PINTS OF TROUBLE

George Earl Parker is an author, singer/songwriter, and artist. As designer and director of the short film “Yellow Submarine Sandwich,” included in Eric Idle’s pseudo-documentary of a band called the Rutles, Parker received accolades, awards, and a showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His art has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the country, and three of his songs have shown up on the European Country Music Association charts. Vampyre Blood-Eight Pints of Trouble is his first novel. He currently lives in California where he is working on his music and his second book.  You can visit his website at www.georgeearlparker.com.

I am not a normal writer that would be a contradiction in terms. By definition writers are hardly normal. They dream up stories that never existed before, and populate them with people and scenario’s that are imaginary.

There is nothing wrong with this noble occupation, people have been following it since the invention of the chisel, and their efforts have prevented an unimaginable number of pratfalls from taking place. Without the writer to chart the uneven terrain of love, the dastardly realm of politics, or even the contradictory subatomic shenanigans of quantum physics, existence would be pure chaos.

For the writer of course, existence is pure chaos, and its measurement is in what one has to sacrifice. The life of a writer is solitary; it is solitary because one has to think. It isn’t really necessary to come to conclusions, in fact conclusions are to be avoided at all costs, because they paint one into a corner and corners are best left vacated until the final throes of ones final edit.

Keeping the story moving, adding twists and turns, and not being long winded are all excellent nuggets of advice for the writer trying to mine rich veins of adventure, comedy, or angst. The fact that they are all diametrically opposed to one another brings the errant writer to an almost Zen-like crossroads that he has to learn to transcend with the wily non-doing of a Taoist adept bent on immortality.

But wait a minute; this non-doing of which you speak is what writer’s have been waging war against since the dawn of time. It’s the blank page one stares at, the canvas un-painted, the word un-spelled, the story un-formed. It is the bane of every writer’s existence; it is the very thing that drives us up the wall. It is the most contemptible facet of an occupation that is otherwise the most pleasing of all artistic careers . . .isn’t it?

No! All of those things are doing, and they are indeed the friction that brings creativity to a halt. Non-doing does not only apply to writing, it applies to life itself. It is the cornerstone of a spiritual existence, it is the flexibility that water exhibits, it is not thinking oneself into a corner, and it is not taking oneself too seriously.

Why are you immune from all the pitfalls of being a writer? I hear you wonder, along with a string of curses and vicious invective that is better left unsaid. But the truth is I’m not. I continue to fall into all the traps that bedevil you, and many, many more of my own invention. This is probably the reason I refuse to think of myself as a normal writer anymore, because as a normal writer I was at war with the blank page, and the best thing I ever learned to do, was to make peace with it.

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