Hurricane Season

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It’s that time of year again in the South…Hurricane season. No, not the drink, the storm. And we’ve already had our first one. Hurricane Barry. It’s early in the season for us. Generally, our storms come later in the year, in September and October. It was an interesting storm, it moved very, very, slow. This meant it lasted longer than usual, and increased the threat of flooding. We fared very well through the storm. We had some street flooding, but didn’t lose power and since it’s July in Louisiana, power is necessary!

Have you ever been through a hurricane or big storm? I would love to hear your stories! And speaking of stories, the storm gave me a lot of motivation and inspiration to work on Once and For All. This novel starts with an approaching hurricane and the rest of the story is about rebuilding after. Here’s a little excerpt…

As they approached the apartment, Gemma said, “When I grabbed my hurricane supplies this morning, I grabbed some extras for you as well. I got a couple flashlights, some water and ice, extra oil for the hurricane lamps. There’s a small grocery store at the intersection where the light is, but I’m not sure what they’ll have at this point. I’m sure you know how it is when a storm rolls in. It’s like the end of the world.”

“Thank you so much,” Emily said.

“You’re very welcome. Can I help you unload?”

“I think we got it,” Emily replied. “We don’t have too much.”

“Okay, then, I’ll get back to the shop. I have a few things to attend to there.”
Gemma hugged Emily, then Carly. “Text if you need anything. And keep me posted on how things are here.”

“Will do,” Emily said before turning to Carly, “Let’s get this stuff unloaded, then head over to the cafe and check on things.”

“You got it,” Carly said. She looked up at the sky, “We better get a move on. It looks like the big rain will be here soon.”

The storm clouds twisted around in the darkening sky. The wind picked up too, whipping through the trees. Carly felt a churning in her own stomach, a sense that something bad was coming. Had they made a mistake coming to Lafayette?

Want to read more? Check out the story on Wattpad!

https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/155292374-once-and-for-all

Once and for All

Want to read a real-life hurricane story that involves a wedding? Check out this story from Lee St. John’s, She’s a Keeper!

“Rain, Rain, Go Away”

While in Raleigh, North Carolina for the wedding and reception of a teacher friend in December 1982, Future Hubby and I met an older gentleman who became interested in our recent engagement and the date we had set for our upcoming nuptials. We replied that we settled on May 14 that coming year.

“May fourteenth, well, well,” he said. “According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the second weekend in May is always the nicest weekend in the South. You should check it out and see for yourself.” The next day, we immediately bought a 1983 Farmer’s Almanac before leaving North Carolina.

Sure enough, the almanac mentioned that the upcoming second weekend in May was the best weekend for farming because of the slightly warmer temps and no rain showers. It was like getting the green light to a perfect wedding day from a crystal ball. We were elated and trusted it completely.

As I counted down the days until the ceremony, I was especially concerned about the weather because my parents and I planned an outdoor reception on my front lawn on the thirty acres where I grew up. Everything for the wedding reception was to be outside—the band, the tables and chairs for guests, the tables for food, the wedding couple’s dance, pictures, everything.

All this effort made my mother and me especially nervous that the weather might not cooperate. The almanac was the only proven information that it was going to turn out well. But what if there was an off year, and what if it was 1983?

As the wedding day drew closer, my fears heightened, and so did the chance of rain. With only a week to go, the Atlanta news and weather stations reported it did not look all that good. If it rained, how were we going to get all those people in my parents’ house? Leaving the church to ride home, getting in and out of the car in my wedding dress, and grey skies in pictures just seemed unthinkable.

In 1983, there were no rental props in my small town. There was no Weather Channel either. I became so concerned that I called the meteorologist at the national weather service…every day. I called the national weather office because our local stations didn’t see the big weather picture in 1983. They only forecast local weather in the here, now, or tomorrow. I called so much we knew each other on a first name basis. I was totally afraid the weather was going to move in and ruin my day. He assured me that was not going to be the case. All looked clear for that week and weekend from California to Georgia.

Then it happened. There was a squall from the Gulf rumbling into Georgia just two days before the wedding. Mother and I panicked and scrambled to solve the problem. If only we knew someone who had university tailgating tents we could borrow. The only tents we knew about were the tents from our local funeral home…with their name emblazoned across the scalloped hem. They were not even in my wedding ensemble colors. And a few of them might have said, “We’re the last to let you down.” I was almost in tears.

A day later, the meteorologist and I spoke again and he knew I was in agony. He calmed my fears and told me that there was no need to worry. The storm had moved off in another direction and the next few days were going to be perfect.

And they were.

Note to self: always trust the Farmer’s Almanac.

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Click the link to read more! https://amzn.to/2Ku8bl2

Stay safe out there my friends!

Bon Chance and Happy Reading!

A.L.Vincent and Jolie St. Amant

Take a Staycation!

A friend of mine and I were on way back from an Aaron Lewis concert when we decided to take a small detour and visit a local distillery. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and when the tour guide suggested we go see one of the oldest wooden bridges in the state, we decided to do that too. Our little detour ended up being a whole day of stopping in to different places we had never been. It was a fun experience we plan on doing again. It doesn’t cost much. The distillery tour was free, as was the samples. 🙂 So was the small campground we visited. Here’s a highlight of our stops.

  1. Bayou Rum Distillery

staycation1Located in Lacassine, LA, it’s a beautiful structure just off the interstate. It’s open 7 days a week, with hourly tours. Our tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable. I highly recommend a stop here if you are in the area. Learn a little about the area, local farming, and how rum is made.

Website:  https://bayourum.com/distillery/.

2. Lorrain Park

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A short drive from Bayou Rum is Lorrain Park. A perfect place to stop for a picnic lunch, if you happened to plan ahead. It’s quiet, scenic, and picturesque. Take some time and snap some shots of the Lorrain Bridge, one of the oldest wooden bridges in the state.

Website:  https://www.cppj.net/services/parks-and-recreation/lorrain-park.

3. Uncle T’s Oyster House

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All our traveling worked up an appetite and we decided we wanted some crawfish. It’s getting late in the season, and we wanted to make sure we got in one last feast before the party was over. After several phone calls and one stop that go us nowhere on this adventure, we finally found some at Uncle T’s in Scott, La. We were not disappointed. The mudbugs were perfectly seasoned and not that hard to peel, which can happen as the crawfish get larger. I’ve had the raw oysters there before, and I recommend them as well.

Website: https://uncletsoysterbar.com/

 

4. Parish Brewing Company

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We made one last stop on our staycation. The Parish Brewing Company in Broussard, La. They too, also free tours, but only on Saturdays, and we arrived too late to take one. We did try a few of their craft beers in a sampler you can purchase. I found one flavor I will definitely go back for. Pets are allowed as well, so feel free to bring your furry friend along.

Website: https://www.parishbeer.com/

Have a free day? Get out and see what your area has to offer. It’s fun!

Here’s to new adventures!

Bon Chance and Happy Reading!

A.L. Vincent/Jolie St. Amant

Want to read more about our area? Check out my Boonie series set in South Louisiana!

Run away to the Gulf Coast

A.L. Vincent’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/A.L.-Vincent/e/B016X3YYW2

 

Rescue Me!

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I love Mardi Gras! As an Oklahoma transplant, it’s not something I grew up with. My first MG experience actually happened many years ago, and I was in New Orleans for the first time. First NOLA experience and first MG. It was then that my love for Louisiana began to blossom. Years later, I would end up moving down here and have experienced many parades and celebrations. I even rented an apartment on the parade route here in Lafayette so I wouldn’t miss a thing! I’ve ridden in a few parades. Want to feel like a rock star? Ride in a Mardi Gras parade. Everyone is vying for your attention for those precious throws.  Throws can be anything from fake roses, to stuffed toys, to the coveted plastic beads of all colors and shapes. These things usually end up in a storage container after the season is over, but for the Carnival season, they are displayed with pride.

One of my favorite parades is the Krewe de Chien parade. This is a day when the dogs get to strut their stuff. There are best costume awards and the royal court gets to ride in awesome looking cars and be celebrities for the day. The best part of this is that the money raised from this event goes to pet charities. Adoptable dogs are shown off before the parade starts, and get to walk in the parade in hopes of finding their forever homes.

Rescue dogs are near and dear to my heart. My last three dogs were rescued. Sammy the dachshund was being shifted from vet to vet to keep from being euthanized. She had been in a very abusive situation and had her moments when she was hard to get along with, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a better protector. Oscar was next. He was given to a family who left him out in the cold on a chain without even a dog house. He was quite the character. Then there was Furby, named because when we got him, he looked like a little furball. Furby had been headed to the shelter when my son grabbed him up and brought him home. I had just lost two pugs, bonded brother and sister, and had sworn never to have another dog. I immediately told my son to find Furb a new home, but that new home turned out to be ours. These three eventually became characters in my Boonie books. Sammy is Carly’s dog, Oscar is Emily’s, and Furby became Grace’s rescue in Running on Empty. 

If you’d like to read more about these “characters”, I’m including pics and the links to the book they star in. 🙂

Tangled Up In You 

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Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2VYMTQU

Running on Empty

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Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2JvVcmf

Catch and Release

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Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2Fj0blV

Are you a writer who would like to help out with rescue charities? Bienvenue Press is looking for submissions for Finally Home, a charity anthology benefitting pet rescues. Click the link for more information! 

https://bit.ly/2SdDcAJ

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A House Divided, by Deborah Leblanc

ahdA House Divided

by: Deborah Leblanc

Book Synopsis:

Keith Lafleur, Louisiana’s largest and greediest building contractor, thinks he’s cut the deal of a lifetime. The huge old, two-story, clapboard house is his for the taking as long as he can move it to a new location. It’s too big to move as it is, but Lafleur’s solution is simple: divide it in half. He has no idea, though, that by splitting the house he’ll be dividing a family- a family long dead, a family that still exists in the house, including a mother who will destroy anyone who keeps her apart from her children.

My Review:

5 STARS!!!

I saw Deborah LeBlanc at a writer’s conference, and knew I wanted to read one of her books.  How could a ghost hunter not have a great paranormal novel? I picked up A House Divided, and once I started reading, I could not put it down.

First, I love books set in south Louisiana written by local authors. LeBlanc does a great job of capturing the local color and character of Cajun country. Her characters feel like people I would meet while standing in line for groceries.

Second, the storyline moved at a perfect pace. I was able to read this book in two days, its flow was so smooth. I kept turning pages wanting to see what was coming next. The story was also unique. Haunted house stories can become clichéd and predictable, and this book was neither.

The story is about a house that is literally split in half. A local contractor purchases the huge house and moves it to another town. In the process, he divides the house into two sections. Each has an apartment on the top floor and a business on the bottom. Lara and Tawana, take one section and open a beauty salon. Matt Daigle opens a new location for his successful café. Soon after opening, the euphoria of new beginnings is replaced with fear. Waking up one morning, the inhabitants of the house find flocks of dead birds littering their yards. And that’s only the beginning…..

What happens later is a journey through a family’s history that will leave one of the characters reeling.

I give this book five stars for a flawless Southern ghost story.

Buy Link:

Link: http://a.co/bOXqOdD

That Voodoo That You Do, Chapter One

I love stories set in New Orleans, so I decided to write my own. This will eventually be a Love Boat style series set in a haunted French Quarter hotel. This is the first chapter. 🙂 

Chapter One
“Bienvenue! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” Josephine Jacobs, or J.J., said automatically as she heard a customer approach the front desk.
Holy crawfish! J.J thought as she looked up from the elegant front desk of the New Orleans hotel and fell head over hormones into lust.
“Checking in.” said the object of her affliction, “Name’s Rhett. Rhett Butler.”
This is bad. J.J. thought. I’m about to climb over this desk and molest a customer with a fake name.
“Rhett Butler?” J.J. asked, raising an eyebrow. She blew a lock of hair out of her face and hit some keys on the computer keyboard. J.J. looked up at him. Again, she was hit with a white-hot wave of lust. His head was shaved underneath a black ball cap. Black tribal tattoos wrapped around arms the size of Amazonian anacondas. He wore a simple black t-shirt and fashionably tattered blue jeans. His eyes were deep brown as was his five o’clock shadow. He was just her type, masculine and ragged around the edges.
“What can I say, my dad was a Gone With the Wind fan.” he replied.
“Is that right?” J.J. asked.
“Yes ma’am.” He said leaning in over the desk, closer to J.J. “You look like a woman that should be kissed. And often….” His smoky voice trailed off.
“And by someone who knows how.” J.J. finished for him breathlessly. She took a deep breath and stepped back. “You are in the Red Light Suite, Mr. Butler. Are you here for the Voodoo Music Festival?”
“Yes, I am.”
Her eyes met his and the air between them sizzled. The flame seemed to burn the oxygen out of the air, leaving her feeling light-headed and half giddy. She sucked in a breath, catching a whiff of his woodsy cologne. She closed her eyes as the floor seemed to shift.
She exhaled a breath and choked out, “This key unlocks both your room and the gate to your private courtyard. Enjoy the festival and your stay with us. If you need anything,” J.J. cringed inwardly as her voice broke on the word anything. “Don’t be afraid to call the front desk.”
J.J. held the key out, and Rhett’s fingers brushed hers as he grabbed it. His fingers moved slowly and deliberately over hers as he took it.
Anaconda Arms, aka Rhett Butler, pocketed the key. “If I need any….thing,” he winked at her. “You’ll be the first one I call, Miss?”
“Jacobs,” she replied, “J.J.”
“J.J.” he said, then nodded toward the brass plated sign over her shoulder, “Complimentary Happy Hour?” he asked.
“Yes. At six.”
“Will you be off?”
“Maybe.” she said smiling. Damn right she would be, she thought, she was only covering the front desk while Andrea took a break.
A smile flashed across his face, “Maybe I’ll come down then.”
J.J. watched as he disappeared into the elevator. Something about him seemed familiar. Who was he? He was not Rhett Butler, and he wouldn’t be the first person to
That Voodoo That You Do, Short Long Series Contemporary/3
check in under a fake name.
“J.J.” someone was calling her name.
“J.J.”
“What?” she snapped. She shook her head and looked to see who it was. It was Zoey and J.J. instantly felt bad. The twenty-something bartender, was smiling at her from the adjoining door of the hotel’s lounge.
“I’m sorry, Zoey.” J.J. said “What is it?”
“He was hot, huh?” Zoey teased, flashing a pierced eyebrow in the direction of the elevator.
J.J. frowned at her and started needlessly straightening the top of the Queen Anne desk. “Isn’t it time for your shift? What did you do to your hair?” J.J. asked Zoey, gesturing to the streak of burgundy in her dark hair.
“I dyed it this morning. Do you think Dean will notice?” she asked.
J.J. smiled, “If he doesn’t, he’s blind.”
“I hope so.”
“It looks good.” J.J. said.
“About tonight, you can handle the delivery from Jagneaux’s today. Just leave the invoice by the register. I’ll pick it up after happy hour.”
“No problem. Are you coming down for happy hour tonight?”
J.J. thought of Rhett. She wouldn‘t miss happy hour tonight for the world. “Yes.”
“Good. Tobias has been unusually rowdy lately.”
“He’s probably fussing with Lucy again. You know how they are. I’ll come down
keep any eye on things.”
“Good. He doesn’t listen to me. He almost broke the beer mugs last night.”
“Tobias doesn’t really listen to anyone. But, I’ll come down and check it out.” J.J. said and turned her attention to the couple walking through the door.
“Bienvenue! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” J.J said.
As the desk clerk returned from her break, J.J. checked the time on the slim gold watch on her wrist. Five o’clock. She had an hour to go to her room, shower, and change for happy hour. J.J. started mentally rifling through her closet. What would she wear?
J.J. gave the lobby a last look. Every detail from the elaborate crystal chandelier, to the tapestry wall hangings, to the tall white and blue flower arrangements had been chosen by a Jacobs. The hotel had been in the family for generations. A former Jacobs had purchased The Gilded Lily, a former bordello, and opened it as a hotel.
J.J. grew up here and now ran this hotel taking over after her mother retired. When other hotels around had been bought out by big companies, her family had held on. And for that J.J. was grateful.
Satisfied that everything was as it should be, J.J. smiled and headed to her suite.

After her shower, J.J. donned a soft, white, robe and stepped out of the bathroom. Her blonde hair was wet and floating around her shoulders. She thought again of Rhett, or
whatever his name was. This man was already taking up too much parking space in her mind. She didn’t have time for this distraction. She was still in men-o-pause after her last dating disaster.
Like the proverbial moth to the flame, and despite men-o-pause, she headed to her closet anyway. Maybe she should take a pause from taking a pause from men.
“What do you think we should wear tonight?” she asked as she stared into her closet.
Silently, a slinky black little number slid off a hanger and onto the floor.
She picked it up, “No, not this, not yet. It’s just happy hour.” She said. “Something else.”
A tight black shirt covered in silvery sequins was next to fall to the floor. J.J. sighed and put it back on the hanger.
“Lucy, seriously.” She said. “Something less dramatic.”
A red sweater was next to fall. It was one of her favorites. It hugged her curves and showed a slight tease of cleavage. “This is perfect. Thanks, Lucy.”
She smiled as she laid the sweater and a pair of slim black slacks on her bed and crossed back into her bathroom. With her sliding glass doors open to the courtyard, she could hear music. Someone was strumming a guitar in the courtyard. The melody hit J.J. in the stomach. It was the song she had listened to repeatedly while going through her divorce.
“No, it can’t be.” she said and inched toward the courtyard balcony.
Someone started to sing softly and J.J.’s knees went weak.
She now knew who Rhett really was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Give Up! Or Not.

Being a transplant to South Louisiana, I’ve always had a difficult time with Lent. Where I grew up, there weren’t many Catholics. In fact, I can’t think of one person I knew that was Catholic until I moved here. I never understood Lent. I simply thought it was a time to repent after the debauchery of Mardi Gras.

In the years I’ve lived here, I’ve come to more fully understand the Catholic faith. I even started taking Catholic classes. I think “classes” is a bit of an exaggeration, I think I attended ONE class, until I found out that whole process ended in a public baptism and that did not appeal to me at all. So, that was that.

I have embraced parts of the Catholic faith. I love the quiet reflection, being alone with your thoughts to offer up prayers or meditations. It’s how I’ve started my days for the last few years. It’s a little bit of peace and quiet before the chaos of work, home, and life in general.

But, back to Lent, I’ve tried to give up something every year for Lent. I’ve tried beer, carbs, red meat, you name it. I’ve never made it until the end. This is probably because I’ve never really took it as seriously as I should. I think I’ve done it because I thought it was a good idea.

I’m going to try something new this year. I’m going to give back something rather than give up something. I’ve never been good at self-deprival anyway. As soon as I tell myself that I can’t have something, my mind instantly fixates on that one thing until I become borderline OCD.

I’ve already been trying to give back in small ways by doing “small things”. I’m just going to be like Emeril and “kick it up a notch”. I’m going to keep doing the small things I’m doing, throwing a few cans into the local Food Bank basket every week, and trying to encourage my students to do small things. But, I’m going to brainstorm new things to do.

I read an article yesterday (see below) that confirmed what I’ve already been thinking. In these times of recession and unemployment, it is really a time to give back rather than give up. So many have had to give up that those of us that do have should give back.

So, my goal for the next 39 days is to give back, not give up.

After all, doesn’t a benevolent Queen keep in mind the needs of others? (Oh yeah, I rolled my eyes at myself on that one.)

For now, I’m off to figure out what to do with the rest of my day. I love vacations!

Peace!

Queen Out

For those of you interested in learning more about Lent, or haven’t figured out what you want to give up or give back. Here are some resources I’ve found….

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christians.encouraged.to.give.rather.than.give.up.this.lent/25313.htm

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1BtbnM/learnthis.ca/2010/02/100-ways-to-serve-others/

A Lenten Reflection
Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism——become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement——be full of hope.
Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred——return good for evil.
Give up negativism——be positive.
Give up anger——be more patient.
Give up pettiness——become mature.
Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——control your tongue.
Give up sin——turn to virtue.
Give up giving up——hang in there!
http://www.lca.org.au/resources/webmanager/quoteslent1.pdf

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