Thursday, May 24, 2012


This year's Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, a literary event co-produced by the NO/AIDS Task Force and the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival was held May 18th - 20th. It was a "mini" because they're getting ready for the big 10 year anniversary celebration which will occur next year in May, 2013. There was an opening cocktail party and readings from the short story contest finalists at The Hotel Monteleone, which was very nice. Jerry Rabushka was the winner, but three of the other finalists were in my workshop the next day - J.R. Greenwell, Jeff Lindemann, and Frank Perez. All fantastic men, and great authors. Saturday, was the Jameson Currier workshop. I submitted one of my short stories for review. There were 10 in all. I got lots of great feedback and advice, and gave some too. I also befriended Eric Andrews-Katz, a great guy who has a couple of novels out with Bold Stroke Books, one of the big sponsors of the festival. During lunch break, my friends, David-Matthew Barnes, and Edward Ortiz  had a meal at The Green Goddess, which is located diagonally across from the hotel. The food was good, but I should've ordered something other than what I did. We sat outside, and the weather was gorgeous this go around. The best it's been since the four years I started annually going to Saints & Sinners in May. In the evening, after the workshop there were several readings held at The Gallery Orange - beautiful place with many pieces I wish I could afford. Faye Jacobs is a wonderful reader with many great stories to tell, and I also enjoyed Jerry Wheeler's story. He was also in my workshop, and I very much enjoy his work. Overall, the mini-convention was a success, and I'd like to send shout-outs to a few of the people that help make it happen. Amie M. Evans, Paul J. Willis, and Greg Herren. The first picture is of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.

Aside from trying out The Green Goddess this year, I ventured to my usual "must" haunts in New Orleans, Le Cafe Du Monde, and the Stanley around Jackson Square. I also for the first time tried the famous Muffaletta sandwich. My first one was at Napoleon's, where they make great drinks, and the second time, I went to the original place. Central Grocery Store. I thought of it as an Italian sandwich. The meats are salami, prosciutto ham, stuff like that, with Italian cheese, and this yummy olive "salad" in a large round, sesame covered bread. It was awesome salty goodness. But if you're someone who despises olives, like Ed Kurtz, of Abattoir/Redrum Horror Press, you may not want to try this sandwich, but you're missing out!

I didn't stay at the convention hotel because the blocked rooms were all taken, but they suggested a different hotel only a block away, called The Olivier House. I thought this was a quaint, rustic hotel, but the bed I had was very uncomfortable. I didn't mind or complain about walking up three flights of stairs every time I needed to go anywhere because the elevator is known as "the coffin". The staff was nice, and they have a cute courtyard, but my aging body needs sleep, and I couldn't get it from that mattress. It was reasonably priced however, and said to be haunted, but no ghost would've messed with me when I have a backache.
This blog about New Orleans will have to be in two parts. There's just too much to say. But the MOST important thing/tip I can write about is comfortable shoes. Bring them. They will be your life saver. Living in Las Vegas, I have a million pair of flip-flops, but after walking everywhere in New Orleans on uneven cobblestones, I still get blisters. Bring Band-Aids. Four to five usually do the trick. And if you wear shoes with socks, bring extra socks to change throughout the day. It is usually hot, very humid, and nobody wants to smell your stinky feet. I've yet to find flip-flops that are "the most comfortable", but a brand I do like and have several of are Tory Burch. They have funky colors and some that aren't just flat, but have an arch.

On the way there, I finally finished Mesmerized, by David-Matthew Barnes. It's a YA (older teen), coming of age/coming out book, but it was more than that. The MC had to deal with the death of her older brother, which was a hate crime. She had to help her family and friends get through it, while working through it herself. She had to face the criminal that did it. It was a powerful story in a neat little package. I enjoyed it very much. I don't often get to read stories with happy endings, and this one really came full circle for me.

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