Moving On

Moving On

I realize that, with a couple of months left, it might be a bit early for me to say that 2011 has been, for me, a particularly rough year. Change – what can I say?

Splitting from my publisher this past summer was nothing short of nerve-wracking because it was something I’d never dreamed of doing. Yet there I was on a break at work back in June, in hundred-plus degree weather feeling alone and literally as cold as ice as I sat at my desk and wrote a letter requesting to be released from my contract. I was, for lack of a better term, scared as hell! Although I was frustrated to no end and worried about being perceived (the publishing biz, believe it or not, is rather small) as being a high maintenance, unrealistic ‘diva’, I knew that some changes were in order before I’d be able to move in the direction I dreamed of going. But honestly, the number of people I was actually able to confide in- I mean, who had some understanding of this bizarre business known as publishing- was few. So I mostly kept my feelings, fears, and unending concerns in. And we all know how terribly unhealthy it is to hold stuff in.

Ask any writer and they will tell you that this is the loneliest of professions. You sit alone for hours and pour out your heart, your deepest feelings, your own unique view of your surroundings and put it out into a world that is, for the most part, indifferent. Unless your work is preceded by a big push, you’re just “out there”, swimming in an ocean of many, many other fish, many of whom are bigger and more colorful than you are. Many days I have asked myself, “Man, was I crazy or what for thinking I could actually make a go of this?”

Well, for better or for worse, I’m now officially an indie author until further notice.

On many days I find myself wondering if I indeed made the right choice. What if I’d stayed? What would my experiences consist of at this moment? In other words, I’m guilty of “looking back.”

Gazing back into the past is problematic on many levels. It prevents essential growth. It shows a lack of faith in not only yourself but also in the Almighty. It keeps you stuck in that proverbial rut called a comfort zone.

Today as I was surfing through various blogs I came across an example somebody used that really resonated; in fact it was on my mind all day long. If you read the Bible then perhaps you’re familiar with the story of Sodom & Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis, where God spared the family of Lot, the one righteous man in the wicked twin cities that He destroyed with fire and brimstone. As the family fled, they were instructed by angels to not look back. Lot’s wife disobeyed this command. She looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. The point of it all, I believe (other than follow doggone directions!), is that life is to be lived forward, not backwards. Places, people, situations and the like, are outgrown. You’re in that place, at that job, with that person, or whatever the case may be, for a reason and a season. It ends, and yet this ball called Earth keeps turning. “Whether”, as a “Good Times” character once put it, “you’re standing on top of it or stretched out under it.”

Change, exhilarating at some times and downright agonizing at others, is inevitable.

Our choices? Simple: Laugh. Dance. Cry. Curse. Scream. Bust the windows out the car :-). Eat. Shop. Write. Drink (in moderation). Take a road trip. Party.

But most importantly:
K.I.M. – Keep It Movin’. And whatever you do, don’t look back.




Miss Etta’s Red Beans & Rice

 Image: Southern Living magazine
   Since it appears that most of my blog page visits these days are for the recipes, and I’m in somewhat of a conundrum as far as writing goes, I thought I’d offer up yet another tasty Louisiana dish for y’all to try until I get my little bit of literary mojo back: Miss Etta’s Red Beans & Rice. If you’ve read my book, you’ll remember that Etta was (is) my main female character’s no-nonsense aunt. The one who, in so many words, told her to get her head out of her a^* and try to make things work out with Neo.

As I’ve stated numerous times, I may be from what they call Louisiana’s Other Side – and there truly is no place like home – I LOVE me some south Louisiana food and culture. I was always advised to look at everything from various perspectives. To take things I might initially perceive as negative and flip ’em! 🙂

So, with that thought in mind, maybe it’s a good thing I live further upstate – in Country I’d probably be big as a house!
Y’all take care, and feel free to let me know what you think about this and the other recipes, as well as any other topic on this blog.


  • 2 cups red beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • dash cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 meaty ham bone or ham hock
  • hot cooked rice
  • smoked sausage, optional
Wash beans, soak overnight. Drain well.  In a large kettle, combine beans with onion, garlic, salt, bay leaf, pepper, and ham hocks; cover with cold water.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until done. If desired, add sliced smoked sausage about 30 minutes before serving.
Serve  with hot cooked rice.
Serves 6.
Recipe: Southern Food

Uneasy -LTO

Another limited-time-only Smashwords freebie…and less than 15,000 w0rds.

Coupon Code: ML77R

Let me know what you think. I’m a big girl; I can handle it   🙂


LTO – High Rise


For a limited time only, and on Smashwords only (couldn’t figure out this process for Amazon & BN :-/), you can download and read my novella, High Rise, for {FREE}.

For the freebie, enter Coupon Code: BT66F


The Big Uneasy

…is actually not so big. It’s a novelette (<15,000 words), and it should be live in the next day or so.

*I saw this picture on Dreamstime and fell in love with it.

High Rise

…is now available on Kindle :

Southern Discomfort

…is now available on Kindle!


Starting Over

…is hard as heck, even when you get a little help from your friends. I recently had the rights to the novel I released this time last year, SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT, reverted to me. I won’t dwell on the particulars any further than to say that support (in the form of exposure that I, as a brand new unknown, was not able to procure on my own) was not forthcoming. The book made it to zero bookstore shelves and exactly two libraries (and if I had a dollar for every time I was asked what store or library a reader could find it in I probably could use that money to pay for my son’s school books and car repairs).
As it was, it never really stood a chance. I’m reminded of something my
mother used to say time and time again over the years: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I also like the way C. S. Lewis put it, “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.”

So I’ve decided to revamp and re-release. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, nor was it done spur-of-the-moment. But, considering the circumstances, I do believe it was, for me, the best choice. The book is somewhat different now: the cover (I’m satisfied, as it is as true a reflection of what goes on in this book as the previous one), the content (a bit more upbeat), and the cost (most folks, myself included, like/need to get the most they can for their money. They’re not too keen on shelling out eight, nine, ten, or more dollars on a book by a brand new, unproven writer. Too many risks involved). My ebooks will be available on Kindle, NOOK (High Rise is already there) and whatever forms made available through Smashwords.
The novella (High Rise) and the novelette (The Big Uneasy) will be ebooks only. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT will come out as an ebook first. Later in September it will be also be available as a paperback. As I’m scheduled to be a part of the Non-Traditionally Published Author’s Panel at the 2011 Louisiana Book Fair in Baton Rouge on October 29, I’ma need some physical hold-in-your-hand-and-turn-the-crisp-white-pages books on hand to sign. And I’m “fixin'” to read up on this Kindlegraph thing too :-).

So that’s it in a nutshell. And now that they have pre- and post-Katrina behind them, my characters are eager to move forward into this new decade. How do I know this? ‘Cause they TOLD me…how else?



May 29, 2006


The old heads around my way say my crazy behavior should be overlooked because I was a smack baby—and for all I know that could’ve been true—but I didn’t care what none of these know-nothin’ bustas thought they knew. I had damn good sense. And I was determined to prove it the minute I walked out of that crowded, filthy holding pen better known as Central Lock-Up of the Orleans Parish Prison. But you know how that goes. Shit rarely ever falls in line according to the plan.

What happened wasn’t supposed to happen, but I can’t see how it could have been avoided. I mean, what the hell was I supposed to do? Be down with letting some over-privileged twenty-one-year-old white boys on a Katrina expedition treat me like I was some kind of minstrel show darky perched out on the stoop for their amusement?

The whole senseless incident happened like this: I was just lay ing back chilling, enjoying a refreshing beverage while listening to the Marvin Gaye song that was coming from the speakers of a car down the street. I was feeling too low to get any real work done, but my ice-cold Budweiser and “After the Dance” were helping me sort a few things out in my head as I looked out at the wasteland in front of, behind, and on all sides of me, trying to decide if it would make any sense for me to spend what I knew it was going to take in order for me to rebuild after that hellish storm. Then I saw those yahoos coming up the street in that yellow Nissan Xterra.

Now at the time, Flanagan Court was mostly deserted because it wasn’t even three o’clock yet. Folks who had jobs were still at work, the kids still in school, that sort of thing. There were a couple of neighbors digging through trash piled up on the sides of what used to be their houses and backyards. I just so happened to be the only fool out front. While those boys were snap, snap, snapping away on that damn camera, I was sip, sip, sipping away on what was my eighth bottle of beer for that day, ’cause I had some heavy stuff on my mind. Ig’nant-ass tourists, was one of the many thoughts swirling around in my head as I scoped them out, hoping they’d just snap a couple of shots of the abandoned houses, stripped cars, and overturned dumpsters and get the hell up outta dodge. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t see one of them lil’ stringy-haired suburbanites point in my direction and yell out, “hey dude, look! A real-life wino! Keeewl! Pass me the camera, Ethan! Hurry!”

From that point on, everything was a blur, because next thing I knew I was seeing myself, this kid, and what had to be a thousand-dollar Nikon camera all go crashing to the sidewalk. I felt my body being pulled across one side of the yard as this kid was bending over on the other side trying to catch some of the blood that was pouring like a fountain out of his nose. Not only that, I saw flashing red and blue lights and felt myself being rushed and lifted off the ground by a couple of New Orleans’s Finest. And that Bud I’d been enjoying? A sudsy mess running along the side of that SUV. I know words had to have been exchanged, but I don’t remember saying any of them. Not even when the cops threw me across the patrol car and, fastened on the cuffs, and hauled my black ass up to this temporary minimum security joint.

During the four hot, miserable weeks I had to serve for drunkenness, battery and resisting arrest, I learned that I also had to pay a two hundred dollar fine
and attend some dumb ass anger management classes. Now, finally about to walk back out onto the street, I could scarcely believe that I found the incident
not the least bit embarrassing. Hell, that time in the OPP had allowed me the opportunity to cool off and do some much needed reflection. Much to the
contrary, I was feeling rather grateful.

A couple of other cats who’d recognized me from some of the clubs where I’d had gigs, asked me if I wanted to hold on to the deck of cards we played spades
with before my ride showed up and I got changed out of that scratchy orange jumpsuit and those silly ass house shoes.

“Nah, y’all hold on to those shits to keep my memory alive,” I joked as I was escorted to the front desk to collect my belongings. “And keep your heads up,’cause the way I see it, things are bound to get better. Eventually.”

If the New Timers, the band I played trombone and trumpet in, hadn’t had a gig that night, and if I hadn’t promised my old college chum, high school band director Lemuel Franks, that I’d help him whip his weak brass section into shape for the upcoming football season, I wouldn’t have even bothered to call our imitation Rastafarian bassist Errol “Flynn” Tucker to come get me out of lockup. I was just that blasé about the whole thing. I would’ve just picked a fight with some punk in the joint over something silly like a smoke, a soggy candy bar or even a decent chunk of soap, just for the hell of it, so I could sit my black ass right there in that nasty cell until they got tired of housing and feeding me. But the fact of the matter was I had two growing sons, Romie and Chris, and I needed to get my place fixed up so I could go get them from their ignorant grandparents in Missouri and bring them back home where they belonged. Wasn’t any more room for half-stepping on my part.

On August thirtieth, it’ll be a year since their mama’s been gone. Pam and I hadn’t been getting along for some time. Earlier last year when I told her I was leaving my low-level supervisory job with Parcels Ex press so I could devote myself to my music full-time, she flipped out on me. Guess she figured that if I quit steady work, then everything would fall on her shoulders. I don’t know why though. I mean, we weren’t exactly going to starve. The renovations we’d had done on Uncle’s old house had been paid for, and we were scheduled to make our final payments on the vehicles before the year was over. I had a fair amount of dough stashed away for a rainy day, and I’d lined up some extra session work in Mississippi just before the storm hit. Plus, Romie and Chris were well past that delicate baby stage—they’re twelve and ten now—and both of them have always been more or less healthy.

I tried to relay to Pam as best I could that I just couldn’t take that damn job anymore, but what did she do? She pitched a bitch and went off and told every
family member and so-called friend within a two hundred mile radius that, “Neo has decided he doesn’t wanna work anymore.”

Next thing I knew, I was getting all these dirty looks from her Tweety Bird-looking mama and her thumb-headed daddy, like I was about to run out on my own family or some other such nonsense. Still, I told her, “hell yeah, at some point in the near future I’m leaving the job. I have almost enough session work lined up to last a year. Hell, if need be, I can work with one of these schools, write some field songs, whatever. I’m sick of being just another P.E. drudge. Why the hell can’t you get that through your thick skull, woman?”

After that, we just let the issue die to keep the peace, but on the day I found out that one of the other operations managers, a skinny, poker-faced broad with
nothing but a high school education and a couple of community college business classes, had gotten promoted to branch manager over my college degree-having ass, I just said to hell with it. I sat down at the nearest computer and calmly typed, printed, signed and handed over my letter of resignation.

I was done. Done with being a silent, obedient workhorse that never asked questions and took whatever crap upper-level management dished out because I
just had to be in possession of a j-o-b. Finished jumping through hoops for peanuts when there was so much more I had to offer than timely packages and
a fake smile. I was through with that office politics bullshit and all the ridiculous, daily shenanigans of my coworkers and so-called superiors. No more
busting my ass only to get passed over because somebody’s homely daughter no longer wanted to get her precious, lily white hands dirty doing real work. And
through with all the goddamn headaches that made carrying around an industrial-sized bottle of Advil a necessity. I had officially joined the ranks of the underemployed, and it was an undesirable situation for sure, but let me tell you, when I burned rubber on that Parcels Express parking lot for the last time, it felt like I’d shed a hundred pounds of dead skin.

The real test began that afternoon when I stepped through my front door and presented my wife of twelve years with the resignation letter whose ink I don’t believe was even quite dry. At first she laughed, be cause I have been known to play a practical joke every so often, but this time I wasn’t smiling. It took a minute or two for it to hit her, and when it finally did, Pam went straight up ballistic.

“You know, Neo,” she’d said, with a hand on one hip and a serious mama bear scowl on her pretty brown face, “at first I had my doubts, but today you have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you just about the stupidest son of a bitch I’ve ever known in my life!”

She immediately sent me and all my shit flying to the curb, but shortly afterwards,when she remembered that I’d been the one who’d inherited the house we lived in, she packed the boys’ and her shit and headed straight on back to mama and daddy.

Luther and Pauline Prejean, my denser than dense in-laws, were living at the time in a renovated old house in Marigny. In my mind, this was just a cooling off period for Pam, and I was willing to give her space. As far as I knew, neither one of us was thinking seriously about getting a divorce.

Weeks later, when the storm came, I naturally assumed that Pam was with her parents and the boys over in Kenner, because when I last talked to Romie on the phone that’s where he said they were all planning to meet up. Those Prejeans are some noisy, take-charge kind of folks, and I usually ended up feeling like a fifth wheel when I was around them, like I was just in everybody’s way. Most of their people live up around St. Louis, so when Mayor Nagin issued the evacuation order that Sunday morning, they got on the road with Romie and Chris, and Nate and Tamia, my nephew and niece by marriage. Good thing Luther had that Suburban, because those were some big ass kids, mine included. I didn’t give my own family’s safety much thought because from where I was sitting, everything seemed to be under control, and hell, I could fend for myself. Besides, I was busy with the rescue effort in my neighborhood.

I tried getting in touch with Pam no fewer than two dozen times, but she never answered or returned any of my calls. Figuring I was running low on time, I broke down and called Luther, who told me that last he knew, Pam had gone out to Whispering Lake Nursing Home, which was located not too far from the Industrial Canal, to look for her older sister. Nobody ever actually gave me any specific details, but they didn’t need to. I already knew they were relying on me to locate Pam on my own and get her out of New Orleans. Only problem with that was, Pam was nowhere to be found, and believe me, I did look.

Rain and wind were coming from everywhere, and there I was out there in it, searching high and low for my wife. I even went to Whispering Lake and stood
under the scrutiny of her evil sister who, for the record, didn’t know where she was either. Paula and I had a couple of angry words and I wound up leaving
before she could tell me what she didn’t know. At some point I just stopped myself and remembered that Pamela Prejean Henry was a grown woman of
thirty-two, and if she really wanted to be found—by me, that is—she would’ve let herself be found. And with that thought, I went back to help out my
stranded neighbors over on Flanagan.

People love to sit back and say that hindsight is twenty-twenty, and maybe it is for all I know, but evacuating from our homes was the last thing on our minds a few days earlier when we watched report after report of the approaching doomsday in store for the Gulf Coast. My family had fairly decent means and enough vehicles to quit this place, but what about all the others who didn’t? A lot of thoughtless and mis informed folks seemed to be under the impression that packing up and outrunning a hurricane was just a matter of loading your two point five kids and your dog into your big, deluxe SUV with a full tank of gas and riding off into the sunset to settle down somewhere new, simple as that. Nothing to it. The so-called pundits didn’t know or, more to the point, didn’t bother to remember that New Orleans was chock full of poor folks, many of whom depended on the transit system to get where they needed to go, which in most cases was never that far to begin with. So, for the sake of all that’s right with the world, would somebody please tell me how one just picks up and moves the hell on when, in some cases, you don’t even know what lies more than ten miles beyond your own damn front door?

Storms had come and gone over the years and washed various things away with them, and yet we were still here. Had always been here. What reason did we have to think we wouldn’t still be here after this particular calamity called Katrina had come and gone?

My boys, Basil and Tyree Broussard, went out and scrounged around and found an old boat that had been abandoned—at least that was what they probably told themselves in order to ease some of the guilt for what was probably looting on their part. Trapped inside my attic at the time, I grabbed a hatchet and a mallet out of the old toolbox I kept around the house for repairs I never did find the time to do, and after I escaped through a jagged little hole that I
managed to knock in my roof, the three of us went on an old-fashioned rescue mission. We did okay, but I’d be lying’ my ass off if I said we weren’t overwhelmed. So many old ladies and kids and babies tucked away into so many nooks and crannies it was unbelievable. But it was like some kind of obsessive-compulsive fog had settled over us, because we worked nonstop for hours and hours on end. While the other rescuers ate and slept, we circled back around the same houses and buildings two and three times just in case we’d missed somebody the first go around.

After getting all the babies and old ladies loaded into choppers and rowing ourselves to the Superdome, the three of us wound up being forced onto a generic charter bus headed for Houston with a gaggle of other cats, most of who had little more than the clothes on their backs. We were considered the lucky ones. At least we had I.D. and a little bit of cash.

We roamed around in a daze inside the Astrodome for three days before being put up in a Motel 6, and I liked to have gone stir-crazy those three months I spent in limbo. Calling, emailing, craiglisting, you name it, nothing. No results. My sons were safe in Missouri with their grandparents. Pam’s sister, Paula, as it turned out, had left Whispering Lake—less than an hour after our confrontation— with a vanload of her coworkers after they had a disagreement with management over what to do with the patients who didn’t have no family to come claim ’em. Come to find out, Pam and Paula had talked in person just before I made it to the nursing home, and Paula had convinced Pam to go back to the rest of the family in Kenner and Paula would catch up with them in a couple of hours. That was the last anybody had seen or heard from Pam. And for three long, agonizing months, that was all we knew. To get through it all I took a little of the cash I had on hand and went to this place called the ‘Bone Yard and bought myself a cheap replacement trombone and played at every club and function that would have me. It was the only way I could stay sane. And alive.

Then one day in early November I got a call from out of the blue, and the male voice o the other end asked if one Pamela Prejean Henry was my wife. I rsponded, “Yeah…so what you got?” The voice politely informed me that I needed to get back to New Orleans as soon as I could.

I met up with my play cousin, Clyde Chenier, or C-Dawg, where he’d been staying at his boy’s apartment complex in Laplace. We rode over to the coroner’s office in his boy’s pickup truck. I took one look at my wife’s bloated, greenish-brown body laid out in the temporary morgue, with all the others that looked more or less the same, and blacked out.

When I came to, I found myself rolled up in a corner of C-Dawg’s boy’s living room, laid out in a puddle of my own piss, next to two empty bottles of Seagram’s gin that I assumed I’d drunk. And I’ve gone out of my way to be drunk nearly every day since, in much the same way normal people make it a point to eat, sleep, and bathe. To this day, I can’t recall C-Dawg’s boy’s real name—I believe it’s something out of the ordinary, like Tennessee or something other— but I do remember him as a passive-aggressive jackass and I couldn’t wait to get out of his noisy, funky domain and into my own.

Luther and Pauline and the boys learned the bad news by phone call, text message, or hell, maybe telegram for all I know. What I do know is none of them will have anything to do with me. When they came in for the memorial service, they offered me no condolences whatsoever and refused to accept mine. In fact, they wouldn’t even look in my direction. When I insisted that they at least give me a chance to talk to my own kids, things got really ugly. Miss Pauline broke down, the boys followed suit, and Luther and some of the unruly male cousins acted like they wanted to throw down with me right there at the gravesite. As far as I was concerned it was on, and that was the start of my off-and-on affair with the NOPD. But with nothing to offer the boys, no home, no money and no security, I had no choice other than to watch them be taken two states away, knowing full well that their minds would be thoroughly poisoned against me. My only solace was that at least they’d be well taken care of.

When they had in their possession an autopsy report that revealed that their daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, whatever, had drowned in her own car
when it got swept away by floodwaters less than a mile away from Whispering Lake, the Prejeans simply wrote me out of their lives. According to them, their
loved one was out there on her own be cause her selfish, trifling thug of a husband was too damn stubborn to hold down a job and keep his family tight.

With that chapter of my life forcibly shut for me, the next thing I did was drag myself down to the FEMA office, get a trailer, and put it beside the half of my wood-frame house that was still standing. I never spent much time in it because I couldn’t stand being by myself. Lately, I was spending my days with C-Dawg, who was still dating that spooky chick Sabine Parish, who lived with her senile father in a FEMA castle just a few doors down from my own. Even though it wasn’t his place to do so, C-Dawg had even had a key made for me and told me that what was theirs was mine, but I could see through that bullshit like a pane of cheap glass. Sabine had a younger sister named LaSalle, and Sabine and C-Dawg were always trying to hook the two of us up.

So far it hadn’t worked from my end because I wasn’t exactly in the mood for a broad, even if she did have a big, firm ass. At twenty-six, LaSalle was a bit
young and silly for my taste anyhow. And it didn’t help that she was already involved in some sort of romantic, sexual, whatever, situation with Farron
“Fatso” Lacour, this gangbanger and mid-level dope dealer who hailed straight from the Desire Projects.

Still, I humored them. On weekends, we hung out at Shank’s, that lame ass pool hall on Morrison and watched ball games, ate barbecue, gossiped, and commiserated. Long as I had those ill-mannered idiots in my corner, I had no room to be alone with these morbid thoughts of mine.

Photo Credit: The Trombone Player



Recovery in south Louisiana is slow and painful for those trying to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In Flanagan Court a neighborhood in hard-hit eastern New Orleans, musician Aeneas “Neo” Henry is functioning on autopilot. Widowed and left homeless by the storm, Aeneas struggles to find the will to start again for the sake of his two young sons. Too much alcohol and a budding interest in his neighbor Janae St. John keeps Neo going from one day to the next.

Schoolteacher Janae St. John is grappling with her own struggles and her life becomes even more challenging when she experiences betrayal of the worst kind from her husband St. John. Ashamed and unwilling to reach out to her family, Janae’s determined to remain in New Orleans and raise her son, Trevor, alone in this new and increasingly dangerous terrain. Traumatized by St. John’s betrayal, Janae numbs her pain by rekindling a relationship with wealthy, troubled ex-boyfriend Lucien Roque, III.

Crammed into FEMA trailers, Neo and Janae form an uneasy alliance as they struggle to manage their lives in the post-Katrina landscape. When their relationship evolves into love, Neo welcomes the change, but Janae wants no part of it. But, when tragedy strikes and those they care about are threatened, Neo and Janae must reevaluate their lives to determine what’s really important.