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Sunday, January 23, 2022

It's Mardi Gras season in Mobile

cj Sez: You think Mardi Gras is a one-day affair? Like Paczki Day* in Hamtramck, Michigan? Think again, Grasshopper. Mardi Gras may be a one-day affair in some places, but in Mobile, Alabama, it’s a season.

  And for your reading and writing pleasure, here is some info …

  The Mardi Gras season officially started on January 6, the assigned date the three wise men were thought to have visited the baby Jesus—otherwise known as “Three Kings Day” or “Epiphany.”

  In 2022 in the Mobile area, the first parades start on January 29 when the Krewe De La Dauphine rolls the first Mardi Gras parade through the streets of Dauphin Island. The Dauphin Island People’s Parade follows on February 5, and the 2022 Mardi Gras season is off and running. Parades in the city of Mobile, the birthplace of Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S., begin on February 11, and they don’t stop until March 1, the day of Mardi Gras, aka known as Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday.

  For weeks, the streets of Mobile will be filled with the sights and sounds of live marching bands, brilliantly colored floats, and crowds of parade goers. More than 40 parades are scheduled to roll in downtown Mobile and elsewhere in the Gulf Coast area.

Now for some Mardi Gras definitions:

ASH WEDNESDAY: The end of Mobile’s Mardi Gras season. All the excitement and celebrations of Mardi Gras season come to a screeching halt at 12:00 a.m. on Ash Wednesday

CARNIVAL: The term carnival has been loosely translated as “farewell to meat,” the temporary period before the Lenten period when devout Catholics forego eating meat.

KING CAKE: King cake is made of a rising dough, braided into a circle with cinnamon and sugar, topped with fondant icing, and sprinkled with purple, green and gold sugar.

 There is also a teeny, tiny, plastic baby hidden inside the cake to represent the baby Jesus on the Epiphany … Three Kings’ Day, hence the name, King Cake. The person who gets the slice with the baby is known as the king and is supposed to bring a king cake to the next Mardi Gras event.

KREWE: A Mardi Gras organization. Krewe members wear masks when they ride on the floats (colorfully decorated trailers, pulled by trucks) and heave throws into the crowds.  They also fund and create the parades. 

LUNDI GRAS: The French term for “Fat Monday” —the day before Mardi Gras.

MARDI GRAS: The French term for “Fat Tuesday,”the calendar day of Mardi Gras.

MARDI GRAS BALL: Krewes hold formal balls after their parades. At the balls, the krewe introduces the organization’s honored members, a royal court that includes queens and kings.

THROWS: The goodies that krewes throw from floats into the crowds lining the street during the parades. Toys are popular throws (note the beads decorating grandson's tux),
but bright, shiny bead necklaces and moonpies are the most popular throws. MoonPies are graham-cracker-type rounds filled with various flavors of marshmallow, covered in chocolate, and are celebrated items in Mobile … Mobile even celebrates the arrival of the New Year with a Moonpie Drop.


LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER: Cajun-French for “Let the good times roll” (and they do!)


Etcetera and P.S.A.
This post from author/editor Judy Penz Sheluk crossed my Facebook page recently, and I think it’s an important educational/informational piece for all you writers out there.


Mobile Writers Guild anthology: 

Mardi Gras Pieces 

ebook on sale at the time of this post for $1.99

Buy Now here: 


  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed copies of my stories in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line from a favorite, indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:

➜ Follow me . . .     
➜ on Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ on Goodreads:


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Blog tours and public speaking

 cj Sez: One way to start blog marketing is to go on a blog tour as the guest of as many bloggers as are willing to host you. You write a post or answer some questions, plug your book, respond to readers, and you’re off to the next blog site. 

  It takes a bit of time to set up a schedule and some internet contacts to get a blog tour going, but reclusive authors usually like this kind of marketing. The neat thing is, with the right internet contact, you can reach an international audience.

  After virtual exposures, come personal appearancesAuthors need to connect with their readers. Actually, they must connect with their readers. That means authors do book signings and book readings at libraries and bookstores. For some authors there may be media—TV/press/radio—interviews. All of those tasks require (gasp) public speaking.

  Even if a personal media interview is out of the picture, be sure to issue a press release when the book is launched. It might just get published in your local paper.

  For me, and some other authors I know, the prospect of public speaking is a bit scary. A writer’s normal milieu as we create our stories is solitude in front of a computer or with pen pressed to paper. Writers are watchers . . . we observe the behaviors of other people and take copious notes for future story/character ideas. Being the watch-ee (in front of an audience) takes us completely out of our comfort zones.

  That’s where a formulaic but flexible “stump speech”* can offer a degree of confidence.
 Write the outline for a stump speech. Start with an anecdote, add a brief bio—mine included why I use a pen name and how I chose it. Follow up with something about where the idea for the story came from, the research involved, the characters, and then read a couple of short excerpts.

I print out the speech in large, bold, double-spaced type, and I practice it, a lot. That helps me with timing the length of my presentation and makes me familiar with the flow so I can wing some of it and actually make occasional eye contact with someone. The more often I speak, the easier it becomes.  (Yeah, right.)

 Other than participating in panels at conferences or speaking at a local writers’ organization, I’ve never had to speak at an out-of-town gathering. If that ever happens, I’ve read that it’s a good idea stop by the venue and get familiar with the layout. Another trick for newbie speakers is to attend someone else’s presentation if possible…that takes a lot of the mystery out of the event.
Caveat for public speaking: It’s important to really know your work, because the audience Q&A will bring some surprising questions—always.
  A few years ago, TV investigative reporter and fellow Sisters-in-Crime/Guppy author Hank Phillippi Ryan (USAToday bestselling author of 13 thrillers) came up with seven quick steps for dealing with the scary thought of having to speak in public (and she’s so good at it, public speaking seems second nature to her):

1.      Research your audience
2.      Plan
3.      Practice
4.      Know your stuff!
5.      DON’T worry.
6.      Get big.
7.      Love it and embrace it. 

Now if only I could get steps 5-7 down pat.  
* “Stump” is another word for “campaign” —like politicians do when they’re trolling for votes; authors are trolling for sales.

  Re that other important marketing consideration, to newsletter or not to newsletter? I tried that once. It was like pulling hens’ teeth to get regular subscribers (or subscribers who weren’t authors trying to help me out). Will I try to start another one? I’m still thinking.


Etcetera and P.S.A.
  A follow-up on my post about setting do-able goals (from a Jane Friedman blog) . . .

 YES YOU CAN honor Betty White's 100th birthday ON JANUARY 17. Your local rescue group, ASPCA, or my favorite: GOOD FORTUNE FARM REFUGE.

  Every dollar goes a long way for homeless animals. Food, de-wormer, a warm blanket, a vet visit. Easy-Peasy to help those who help the helpless, and you can do it from the comfort of your home.

  Think about it and mark the date on your calendar, please?

  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. 


P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed copies of my stories in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line from a favorite, indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:

➜ Follow me . . .     
➜ on Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ on Goodreads: