Friday, August 27, 2010

Remembering Katrina ~ Part II

So where was I? Let's see, oh yeah, I hadn't gone home yet, but the hubby had. Once he cleaned up a little around the house, scheduled his workers to come back, cleaned out the yucky refrigerators, then he came back to get me from Morgan City. Before going home we bought a generator, lots of groceries, waited in line for about an hour or two to fill up gas cans we borrowed from my aunts camp and then headed home.

On the drive back which is about an hour and thirty minutes, I started seeing signs of destruction. Billboards laying on the roads. Trees down. Road blocks from the military. We had a hospital pass so they let us in. Most people were turned around after they waited in traffic for hours to get back home.

Once we made it past the check point things began to hit me. The only life I saw was helicopters flying above, military in hummer's, large military trucks with tent covering the backs of the trucks. And a few utility trucks. As we moved closer to our home I saw houses missing parts of roofs, chimineys, sheds & fences blown down, trees on top of cars, houses, and all over the road. I knew the military or utility company had already cut a path down our main highway so we were able to get home. I knew I was quiet on the ride back. My hubby grabbed my hand as I took in the ghost town. Very eerie. Most of the westbank didn't get near the damage New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish had. They had major flooding, like over 10'-20'in some areas...

We pulled on our street and I couldn't believe the mess, trees down, we couldn't drive to our house, we couldn't go down our street. Our house is first on the street, so we couldn't see our neighbors homes. However, the hubby had already checked and for the most part, their houses were okay other than one tree landing on our neighbors roof, but it was actually not too bad.

Once I saw everything was okay with the house, other than a small crack in my daughters bedroom wall, the garage doors looked like they were sucked in, the house couldn't have been better. The yard would take a long time to clean, but we were great! Thank you God!

After the relief washed through me, we checked on family and friends houses. Both our parents houses had severe damage. Roof and flood damage. My brothers house and my brother-n-law's house had major damage as well. My brother never came back to Louisiana.

I went back to Morgan City, my parents picked up my girls for me and we all stayed in Morgan City. (Except my hubby stayed home to work) I enrolled the kids in school, not knowing how long we would be there, because our house had no electricity other than a generator. And no water. I drove back and forth when the hubby needed food and gas. That didn't last long because I had enough real quick and wanted to be home with him. The girls wanted to be home too, school or no school we went home. I found a closer grocery store and gas station, and we lived without things I never thought were possible. It was like camping, but under our own roof.

Our office (we have a construction company) was flooded. We worked in filth for months while we fixed everyone else's homes, businesses, hospitals, buildings, then after all that was done we began work on our office.

I skimmed so much of my Katrina moments, but there is too much to tell.

But, there were some moments that stick out in my brain that I won't forget: There is a church across the street from our home and a statue of Mary sits in a little praying area on the church's grounds in the woods. Mary was covered by trees as though the trees fell on top each other to protect her. Not one tree touched her. It was the oddest thing in the world. Then months after the storm I remember Dominoes Pizza opening. OMG! They were the only fast food around. It was the best damn pizza in my life and we waited for 2-3 hours to get it. It cost I think about $30, but we didn't care. It was Pizza! I remember driving to a few hospitals with my husband for work, and one hospital had so much mold in it I couldn't believe how fast it had spread. It was like a jungle of mold up the walls, on furniture, it was like everyone up and left in the middle of lunch, and a jungle of mildew took over.

While the New Orleans and the gulf coast will never be the same, some things are better and some things are worse. Life goes on, and you have to just lift up your head and think there are people out there who have it a lot worse.

I'll tell you a story of hurricane Gustav another time.

Now keep your fingers crossed no more storms hit the gulf coast for a long time. Especially with the oil out there right now. What a mess that would be.

I attached a link of Then and Now photo's from WWL TV.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Remembering moments from Hurricane Katrina - Part I

I was torn about posting anything related to hurricane Katrina, it's so depressing, yet I feel in ways that it helps to talk about it. (Excuse the typo's, I'm writing this on the go.)

I have to say up front that my life wasn't destroyed like many people's were, so I can't complain. But the memories are rough at times, especially around the anniversary. It's almost 5 years already. 2005 was a year of huge moments in my life.

January we moved into our brand new home. March got married. August Hurricane Katrina. What a year!

I'll try and skim as best I can, but I'll start from the beginning and post on this topic a few days this week to spread it out.

Hubby and I were watching the news/weather and a hurricane had re-organized after going through Florida and was heading our way. I felt something bad in my gut. It was going to be bad. I couldn't believe the New Orleans Mayor hadn't insisted on people getting the hell out. Other town Mayor's told people leave and leave now! I was stunned at Mayor Nagin! I think too many close calls had the city thinking nothing will happen as usual.

Unfortunately, my husband was one of those people. However, I knew in my gut this was it. My hubby didn't want to leave, but I insisted we had to for his parents. We had to get them to safety just in case it did hit us. I packed for about a week, when most people packed 2-3 days max. At the last minute we ended up heading to Texas. We sat in traffic for I can't remember how long. (maybe 12 hours?) The traffic was a nightmare, but at least we were out of there. We found a sleezy hotel that took pets (we had a golden at the time) and I can't remember if we slept at all or not. All I can remember is staying glued to the tv. At first it appeared the hurricane jogged to the east and missed New Orleans, but then a day or so later the levees broke, and the water poured in trapping thousands in their homes. Killing over a thousand people.

One of the local hospitals called my husband, asking him to come back to repair some damage to a much needed space in the hospital. The hospitals in New Orleans were under water and destroyed. This hospital that called my husband was not, but had damage and if it could be repaired they needed the "bed" space for the overflowing patients. We left the hotel and headed closer to New Orleans, but yet still far enough away that we had grocery stories open and running electricity. We stayed at my aunt's camp for 1 night in Morgan City, but my husband still had to get back asap. He had his hospital pass, but I kept hearing horror stories about power line people and helicopters being shot at - it was a war zone and I didn't want my husband to be in the middle of it. - He was upset he hadn't brought his boat because he wanted to help rescue people. A neighbor of my aunts gave him a gun to come home and he did. Alone. He wouldn't allow me to go back with him. One for my safety and two because he didn't know if we had a home left or not. Cell phone service was hit or miss, and I remember talking to him as he came through town. He said I wouldn't believe it. He said it was like a third world country. Destruction everywhere.

He couldn't drive down our street because of huge oak trees covering the road. When I say huge, I mean almost as tall as me while they are laying on the road. He had to walk the rest of the way to the house. We live on three acres of wooded land so you can imagine what we thought we would come home to. As he neared the house he told me he would call me back. He didn't want to be on the phone with me as he examined the damage. Tons of trees and debris laid on the ground surrounding the house, but it appeared no major damage. He called me, and the relief in his voice I can't describe. He said it looked like a giant weed wacker cut off the tops of all the trees. Broke them clean off without doing any damage to our home. (A tornado had to have come through). The brand new house still stood. The damage was minor. Amen!

My husband met with facilities from the hospital and immediately began scheduling the sub-contractors to get to work, at least the ones he could find. I wanted to get home. I had to see everything for myself, but I was stuck at the camp without a car until he came back for me. I knew there was something he wasn't telling me.

To be continued..........

(see attached video from WWL TV news for some local updates)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Author Jess Haines talks about Editing a Novel Prior to Submission

Hello there! Jess Haines here. I’m the author of the new urban fantasy HUNTED BY THE OTHERS (link:, and its upcoming sequel TAKEN BY THE OTHERS (link: (to be released January 4, 2011 by Kensington). I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about the editing process.

First, I’m going to start with telling you about what my own writing process is like–BEFORE passing my work on to my agent or editor. (If you’re curious what happens once your work gets passed on, in my case, my agent lends me a hand by looking the manuscript over and offering her input on things I can improve. After that’s done, I pass my work on to my editor, who gives me his input on any changes to the storyline that are needed, or scenes that need bulking up or more explanation. This is followed by a round of edits from the copy editor, who tears into it with a red pen marking up spelling and grammar errors. Sound like a lot? It is.)

Remember: even if you have an agent, editor, and a copy editor who are going to help tighten up your novel, that’s no excuse not to do the best job you can on your own. To help you with that, I’m going to give you some tips on what to look for.

Note that the self-editing process is different for everyone, and you shouldn’t take my guidelines as gospel. This is wholly and only for your info.

My writing process generally goes something like this:

1) Write the whole story. No… no. NO! DO NOT go back to edit! BAD AUTHOR! BAD!

2) Okay. First draft is done. Reread.


4) Fix all the #)($ spelling, grammar, continuity errors I can find.

5) Read it again.

6) How the heck did I miss that?!

7) Fixfixfix.

8) Repeat 5-7 about 10 more times.

9) Beta #1 time! (Betas are people who act as a second set of eyes, looking over your work specifically in search of grammar, spelling, and/or continuity errors. I have three. Two for general, “Does this work? Did I miss anything glaringly obvious?” This is their step. Beta #3 is my grammar-nazi. No dangling modifiers for you!)


11) Beta #3′s turn!


13) Usually, at this point, I’m done and ready to pass the buck on to my agent and/or editor.

Now, for what this post is really about! Here are some examples of what I am looking for and what I am fixing AFTER the first draft is written:

– Spelling errors. You need to read your stuff start to finish so you have it all in context, or this won’t work. Microsoft Word (which is the program I use) is notorious for missing things or deciding that you meant Word X when you really meant Word Y and sneakily ninjas Word Y in there when you’re not looking.

– A sub-heading to the above is the search for homophones and other such nonsense (e.g., “night” vs. “knight”; “to” vs. “too” vs. “two”; “your” vs. “you’re” — get the picture?).

– Grammar errors. These can be devious. Personally, I am TERRIBLE at catching some of this stuff on my own, but knowing my weak points helps me spot them. An example? I have a tendency to use “that” instead of “who”—e.g., “the person that spoke” instead of “the person who spoke”—so I know to be on the look-out for this.

– Replacing/rephrasing redundant words/phrases/sentences.

– Removing unnecessary words (overuse of “just,” “almost,” “a little,” “really,” etc).

– Continuity errors. (“Okay. In this paragraph, Dude A shapeshifts and his pants get torn apart.” Continue reading. Three paragraphs later: “Where’d those pants come from?!” Yes, this really happened. Yes, it was removed before the final version made it into the hands of the reading public.)

– Failure to properly express what was going through my head at the time I wrote the sentence(s). Ever do that? You’ve got a fabulous image in your head of how a scene is playing out, and you furiously type it all out–only to reread it later and realize you left out 3/4ths of what should have made it on paper?

– Occasional rewrites of entire scenes. For example, I deleted 5,000 words from novel #3 in the H&W Series because I didn’t like how a scene was coming along. Rewrote it in its entirety. It’s much better now—and I don’t regret losing those words.

– Sometimes I fail to get an idea across, and someone will point it out–for example, in my first book, one of the things my editor wanted me to fix was a “glossing over” of the relationship between Shiarra and her ex-boyfriend. By adding a few paragraphs here and there to beef up the back story, it helped explain some of her actions and thoughts enormously.

What about you? What do you look for when you’re editing your own work?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Author Laura Hogg - New Releases

A little information about the talented author, Laura Hogg's latest releases:

Deadly Karma: Three Speculative Tales (three short paranormal stories, electronic format)

Available with Midnight Showcase:

Karma: Karma’s Time Machine: A mean college girl learns a lesson she’ll never forget when she stumbles upon another dimension.

The Deadly 50/50: She is neither good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell. Now it’s time to take a stand. Given a task that sends her to the gates of hell, success seems possible; then she sees who the gatekeeper is.

Karma: The Blue Dress: One woman must make a sacrifice to insure the future. Another must give up something to save the past. What happens when the 21st century meets the 19th for a dual tale across time?

Full-length historical romance, available with Moongypsy Press. (electronic, and soon to be available in print)


Duncan Amberley has come back from war, fighting Napoleon's men on a ship. Clarissa Hale is a lovely shopkeeper with a great sense of humor. A heroic heart rests inside this insecure, intelligent beauty, and she will be called to prove it. Clarissa and her love are pitted against each other for the sake of their families and some terrible accusations. She will be in constant peril as she gathers evidence to convict Duncan's dangerous brother of a harrowing crime. Duncan's heart breaks when he discovers something about Clarissa's sister. Can their love survive the results of their investigations? They devise a dangerous plan to get to the truth, which brings them into the heart of Napoleon's camp in 1812 Russia as spies. Risking everything, they must get to the truth.

Laura lives in Colorado and has various stories out with different publishers. They range from short stories to full-length novels. Most are romance. Laura likes to write historical, some sci-fi, and paranormal, especially time travel fiction.
Her links:

Friday, August 6, 2010

RWA Orlando Pictures and Memories

Yes, that's me in a red top hat! (It's a costume, so don't get all worried)

As I promised in my last post - I have a few pictures to share plus a few memories as well...

Wednesday morning Debbie Dalme' and I hop on a jet plane (not really) and fly to Orlando. We arrive at the Swan, which by the way was a very nice hotel. We unpacked, registered and eat not such a good sandwitch at a buffet in the Dolphin. At this point we didn't care, we'd eat anything. While we were in line waiting, we chatted with this lady who looked really familiar. I even told her she looked familiar. She said she was Susan Elizabeth Philips. Yes, really...

That night was the "Readers for Life" Literacy signing. OMG! About ninety percent of the authors that I read were there. It was amazing. Debbie and I ran around the rows of authors signing and tried to get signatures for a chance to win a Nook or a Kindle (can't remember), we didn't win, but we did get to chat and buy a few books.

I'm trying to remember what we did that night, but I can't remember for the life of me. Anyway, the next morning we had breakfast with author Shirley Jump, (see picture above) Farrah Rochon, and other great writers and friends. The restaurant made this cute lil' Mickey Mouse waffles that Farrah ate. She took some pictures of them - I'll have to see if I can get my hands on them.

Then later that day at noon was the keynote speaker with the one and only NORA ROBERTS. I wasn't expecting such a wonderful inspiring talk, but she let us know she worked hard to become who she is today and working so hard is what makes it all the sweeter.

Then was the PRO RETREAT which was wonderful. Donald Maass was the keynote speaker and I could listen to him like forever. He shared such wisdom. After the PRO RETREAT I met the wonderful Sara Megibow with the Nelson Agency. She is sweeter in person. Truly a down to earth kinda gal. Later that night a few friends and I had dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

Friday was a day full of classes. I took as many classes and hit as many spotlights as I could. I wanted to know the inside scoop of what the editors wanted and the trends they saw happening. Just so you know, paranormal is still really hot right now. They don't see a change coming anytime soon. At the Pocket spotlight they want new authors and new types of paranormal. They want a edgy YA paranormal too. They also opened up a online community called which I haven't been to yet. I plan to soon.

Friday night was the Future Fantasy and Paranormal -FFandP Party and Awards party. A lot of people enjoyed dressing up for this event. Including me.

Saturday was a day full of classes, then there was the Gold Heart and Rita Award Reception and then that was all she wrote. I was exhausted. Oh one more thing, Sabrina Jeffries was the emcee (sp?) and she was a hoot...

I'm hoping I can make RWA 2011 in New York! Cross your toes...

Dawn Chartier

Sunday, August 1, 2010

RWA party scoop from Barbara Vey (Publishers Weekly) blog

Run over to Barbara Vey's Beyond Her Book blog....See some great RWA party insiders scoop...(plus my buddies and I are posing for a picture for her)...My eyes look closed, but yep thats me...worn out, yet still so excited to be there...

I'll post my own blog when the fog clears from my head...