Monday, March 19, 2012

The Loup-garou

I wrote a short story, "Sidonie and the Loup-garou," a couple of years ago in response to a class fiction assignment. What in the world is a loup-garou, you may ask. An ancient evil who's been running around the swamps and bayous of Louisiana since the arrival of the French Acadians after the British kicked them out of Canada. The loup-garou came along for the ride and has been here ever since.

According to the old folks a loup-garou is a man-wolf who walks around upright on two legs. He, or she, has large red eyes, a pointed nose, shaggy hair, and long, sharp nails. Cajun children grew up with the warning "Be good or the loup-garou gonna get you" ringing in their ears.

The Cajun loups-garou differ from the Hollywood stereotype, who are often portrayed as loners, solitary outcasts. The Cajun loup-garou is anything but. They love to party. They can dance all night just like their human Cajun counterparts. They hold their balls at Bayou Goula during a full moon and also on the night of St. John's Eve, June 23. This is the night they gather from throughout the Delta for a gigantic convocation.

FYI: to ward off an attack throw a bayou bullfrog at a loup-garou (they're terrified of frogs), or sprinkle salt on the creature and their fur will catch on fire.

Following is a short scene from my story:

She stood there a moment, squinting into the blackness. Red eyes stared back at her. She couldn't move. She heard a mewling sound, like a cat in pain. She realized the sound was coming from her.

Denny. I've got to get to Denny. He'll take care of me. And I've got my frog. Papa Leon always said the loup-garou was scared of frogs. He promised me. If I can just get to Denny's house.

She whirled and sprinted toward the pasture, fueled by adrenaline and secure in the knowledge she had the fastest time on the track team in the hundred yard dash and the high hurdles. The fence loomed ahead of her. It didn't take long to make it over the wooden rails, and she looked for the porch light's welcoming beam ahead.

It wasn't there.

She could see the muted blue of a television set from a window, but the porch light was out. She kept running.

Just make it to the house. Denny would be waiting. She didn't know if those red eyes were still behind her. She sure wasn't going to stop and look. She wasn't going to stop until she got to the back door.

Sidonie had to go over another fence to get into the back yard. The blue water of the swimming pool gave off an eerie glow in the moonlight, mirroring the giant white orb in the glassy surface. She skirted the edge of the pool and skidded to a stop at the door.

She grabbed the doorknob and pulled. Nothing. She yanked harder. Several times. Where was Denny? He was supposed to be there to let her in.

She turned and backed against the door, clutching her frog to her chest. The red eyes emerged from behind the pool umbrella. Hairy hands reached out. She shoved the frog at him. He snatched it away.


My advice? Stay away from Bayou Goula in June. If you must travel there take a burlap sack full of  live bullfrogs and a gallon-sized salt shaker.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I've Been "Tagged"

My friend, Jess Ferguson, tagged me with some questions, so here goes.

1)What is the one book you couldn't live without?
Other than the Bible, it would have to be The Million Word Crossword Dictionary. In addition to helping me out with my crosswords, it's a great Thesaurus. Better than a regular one, actually.

2) What can you see out your window at the moment?
A gray March afternoon and the Pousson's house.

3) What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
Like Jess, I'm not an adventurous eater, but I would have to say it would be the powdered milk and eggs we had to use in Goose Bay, Labrador.

4) What fictional character would you most like to marry?
That's easy. James Bond, as played by Sean Connery. A close second would be the sergeant in "From Here to Eternity," as played by Burt Lancaster.

5) If ever a fictional villain was going to win, who would you want it to be?
Hannibal Lector, because the ones he went after usually had it coming.

6) How many types of cheese can you name off the top of your head?
American, Swiss, cheddar, parmesan. Love 'em all.

7) If you didn't want to be a writer, what would you want to be?
An archeologist,

8) Can you play a musical instrument?
I can play "Chopsticks" and "Heart and Soul" on the piano.

9) Do you own a Kindle or Nook or any sort of e-reader?
I have a Kindle Keyboard and a Kindle Fire.

10) If you do, how many books do you have on it?
95 when I counted yesterday. Since then I've bought two more.

11) You just got published. In a glowing review, someone calls you the next [insert famous author name here]. Which famous author has to watch their back now you're on the scene?
James Lee Burke. Wish I could write like him.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Flex Your Muscles Part 2

Last time I told you about some online sources for writing prompts and exercises. Besides the internet a large number of trees have given their all so we scribblers can jump-start our creativity. One of the best books I've seen is A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words. The subtitle reads: "image-driven story prompts and exercises for writers" and the author is Phillip Sexton. The photographs were provided by Tricia Bateman. Over 110 photos are inside its pages just waiting for us to add our immortal words. It has chapters on the different elements of fiction writing: Beginnings, Description, Character, Dialogue, Emotions, and Endings. Chapter 7 is titled "Story Starters" and has 120 pages of exercises that focus on specific ideas about the craft of writing and working with photos. The last chapter has suggestions for using the exercises a second or third time.

So there you are. Enough suggestions to keep you busy for awhile. And who knows, you just might end up with something some editor might be willing to take a chance on.

Gotta go. My first exercise awaits. There's this letter with no return address. What's in it? How is my protagonist going to react to the contents? Why?