How’s this for a book jacket blurb?

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, and 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:

A red three can be a blessing or a curse.

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.

Postcard, circa 1955.

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.

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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15 thoughts on “How’s this for a book jacket blurb?

  1. Bug-filled instead of buggy?
    Was part of your dad’s issues based in part what others thought?
    I am not a native, but in my near 45 years in Eunice, I have always heard “The Stone Motel” .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Cindi! I can’t be sure but I do think he might have been conscious of what people thought – I think the core of his issue was that he himself believed I was an inferior human – that I was indeed damaged goods. My mom, years later, said she knew I’d have a hard life but she had no idea the hardest part for me would come from inside the home.


  2. Morris, I find the blurb intriguing and it makes me wish I knew you better! I can’t wait for Stone Motel.
    I always enjoyed hanging with you during our college days. You were intelligent, funny and very cool, cher! Cheers to you, friend! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think the “core” of his issue was that he was raised (by his family and by his culture) to think and feel that HE was inferior. It’s a difficult life to do life from – a place like that. Love you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Having done book judging for more than a dozen years (and of course being an avid reader), I’m partial to shorter blurbs, rather than longer ones. As I used to tell my students, “Write tight.” (It’s going to be on my tombstone, I swear!)

    Anyway, anyway…
    I can’t wait to see the book IRL, having read the manuscript, and I know that whatever blurb you select will be as fabulous as you are. (You will probably recognize “some” of the reviewers whose quotes will also adorn the corner.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are right on, as per usual, Val! The old saying, “I wrote long because I couldn’t write short,” or some such, is so true. These measly 300 (mine’s under that) words are killer to get right. Each word matters. Now I’m wondering who these people being quoted will be. Hmmmmmmmm. UPM asked me to come up with suggestions for that, and I’m still not sure the kind of person who’d be appropriate (besides someone like you).


  5. Well, the blurb worked. I’m interested. And for the record, I prefer your Canasta title, too. The one the publisher picked will do, but your original title stands out more to me. Looking forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

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