In April, when I converted my old newsletter (Parenthetically Speaking) into this blog, I announced that the University Press of Mississippi (UPM) will be publishing my memoir next year. At the time, the title of my book was “The Canasta Summers – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy.” This was the only title I’ve ever considered for this book because the story covers a period of several years when my siblings Gilda, Glenda, Dickie, and I played canasta to keep cool and out of trouble during the sweltering Louisiana summers. Well, that title is no longer the one that’s going on the book. Here’s an update on that and other book-related stuff:
New title: Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy. Like the red three in a game of canasta, book titles can be a blessing – or a curse. UPM said they liked my original title enough, but asked me to work on it a bit to possibly include other aspects of the story, such as the motel setting – so I gave them a handful of ideas for alternative titles, and that’s the one they liked best. To be honest, I don’t love it as much as “Canasta…”, but in the end, it’s about selling books in a hugely competitive business.
Publication status: Last week UPM’s editor finished her work and now the design and layout of pages can begin. A cover is being designed, and when that is ready to show, I hope to share that. The estimated release date for the book remains the same: May or June 2020.
Book-jacket blurb: I have tinkered with this for months and months now. The idea is that the whole story needs to be captured in about 300 words. The book itself is about 100,000 words, and should end up at around 300 pages, so to capture all that in 300 words was really challenging for me. I’m not alone in this – most authors say the same thing: writing the damned blurb is harder than writing the whole book (not exactly true, but close)! The blurb (below) is intended to make you want to read/buy the book.
STONE MOTEL – MEMOIRS OF A CAJUN BOY
Summers, early 1970s: My siblings and I helped run our family’s little roadside motel in a hot, buggy, bayou town in Cajun Louisiana. The stifling, sticky heat inspired us to find creative ways to stay cool and out of trouble. When we were not doing our chores – mowing acres of thick grass, scrubbing motel-room toilets, plucking chicken bones and used condoms from under the beds, handling a colorful cast of customers – we played canasta, an old ladies’ game that provided us with a refuge from the sun and helped us avoid our violent, troubled father.
I was successful at occupying my time with my siblings and the children of families staying in our kitchenette apartments but was not always successful at keeping clear of my dad, a man unable to shake the horrors he had experienced as a child and later, as a soldier. I learned as I matured that Daddy had reserved his most ferocious attacks for me because of an inability to accept a gay or, to his mind, “broken,” son. It became his mission to “fix” me, and my mission to resist – and survive intact. I was aided in my struggle immeasurably by the love and encouragement of a selfless and generous grandmother, who provides my story with much of its warmth, wisdom, and humor. There’s also suspense, awkward romance, naughty French lessons, and an insider’s take on a truly remarkable, not-yet homogenized pocket of American culture.
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