Showing posts with label O'Neil De Noux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Neil De Noux. Show all posts

01 October 2021

What is a Yogiism?


A Yogiism is something said by Yogi Berra, something less profound than something written by Shakespeare but memorable.

I am old enough to remember Yogi Berra playing catcher for the New York Yankees. Lawrencec Peter 'Yogi' Berra was a great catcher and an even better clutch hitter, excelling at hitting pitches out of the strike zone. Berra had more home runs than strikeouts in five seasons. Hard to imagine.


His achievements and honors are many, including 18 times an American League All-Star, 13 times a World Series Champion, 3 times AL MVP. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Yogi and his World Series Rings

There are many Yogiisms. Here are a few examples of his unintentional or intentional wit:

"It's deja vu all over again."

"Ninety percent of the game is half-mental."

"One thing we know for sure: If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."

"If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be."

"Never answer an anonymous letter."

"Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical."

"We made too many wrong mistakes."

"You can observe a lot by watching."

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

"I always thought the record would stand until it was broken."

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.

"Take it with a grin of salt."

"Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours."

"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there."

"If people don't want to come to the ballpark, how the hell are you gonna stop them?"

"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."

"We have deep depth."

"Pair up in threes."

"Even Napoleon had his Watergate."

"You better cut the pizza into four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."

"You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you."

"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."

"It gets late early out here."

"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."

"Slump? I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hitting."

"It ain't the heat. It's the humility."

"So I'm ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face."

"Little League is a very good thing. It keeps parents off the streets."

"The future ain't what it used to be."

"I usually take a two hour nap from 1 to 4."

"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too."

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

Probably his most famous Yogiism:

"It ain't over 'til it's over."

Yogi was incorrectly credited with coining the phrase, "It ain't over 'till the fat lady sings," which was first attributed to Ralph Carpenter, Texas Tech University sport information director. When Yogi was asked about that particular quote, he told a New York Times reporter, "That's one of the things that I said that I never said."

Sources for the quotes come from:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi_Berra#Playing_style
  • https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/03/the-50-greatest-yogi-berra-quotes
  • https://www.authenticmanhood.com/blog/20-great-yogi-berra-quotes

That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com

20 August 2021

Photography


My father, a police detective and photographer bought me a camera when I was fifteen and taught me how to use it, as well as how to develop the film and print the pictures. Black and white, of course. We had to send color film to labs back then.

He bought me a Yashica twin-lens reflex camera which took 120 mm negatives (four times the size of the standard 35mm negatives). It opened a new world to me and I've been taking pictures ever since.

Yashica was the inexpensive version of the wonderful Rolleiflex German camera

Snapshot turned into still life photos and candids pictures of family and friends moved to portraits. My MOS in the army was Photographer: Still (opposed to Photographer: Film. There were no video cameras in 1971). I gave up the little Yashica for another twin-lens camera, one with interchangeable lenses and the ability to use 120 mm film with 24 exposures (rather than 12 as in the Yashica). I moved to the Mamiya C330.


Japanese Mamiya cameras were well-made, durable with excellent lenses

In the army I perfected my lab work, developing and printing and thought I would be a professional photographer when I got out only there were no jobs, so I went back into law enforcement and later discovered my calling to be a writer.

But photography was always there. Eventually, I moved to the Mamiya RB 6x7 single-lens camera. A real gem, only large and bulky. Along the way I bought a Nikon 35mm, which was more portable and produced sharp images.

RB 6x7, similar to the greatest camera in the world, the Hasselblad


Taken with Yashica



Taken with Mamiya C330


Taken with RB 6x7

Taking photos in St. Louis Cemetery #1 with RB 6x7 in 1975

Digital photography is much easier but I miss the craft of focusing the camera and setting the f-stop and speed and the smell of the developer and glacial acidic acid and fixer. I miss washing the negative and hanging them up, making sure no dust got to them while they dried. I miss printing the pictures, seeing the images come to life in the developing tray in the dim, yellow light of the darkroom.

I still have my C330 but rarely use it. I don't like having others develop the film and print the photos. Digital photography is much easier and I'm a writer now.

www.oneildenoux.com

30 July 2021

Pulphouse: A FIction Magazine


Pulphouse: A Fiction Magazine published my first private eye short story, "Women Are Like Streetcars" in July 1992. The story has been reprinted five times (in the U.S., Denmark, and France/UK), and is included in the newly released volume. Stories from the Original Pulphouse: A Fiction Magazine (July 2021).

With this volume, editor Dean Wesley Smith has selected some of his favorite twisted stories from the first incarnation of Pulphouse's fiction magazine, stories he describes as "Sort of half-beat off kilter, yet still high-quality fiction and great stories." So happy to see my story including with cool stories by Jerry Oltion, Kent Patterson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Ray Vukcevich, and J. Steven York.

The story of Pulphouse Publishing is too big to be condensed in this blog but Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and the others at the publishing house created a specialty house of limited, signed editions and moved into paperbacks. 

Worked there in 1992 as an assistant editor, which is where I met my wife Debra Gray De Noux who was art director and associate publisher at Pulphouse. I learned so much about writing and editing and publishing in my time there.

The small, specialty Pulphouse Publishing was founded in 1988 by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and was active until 1996, publishing 244 different titles. Beginning with Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, it also published ground-breaking print runs of Author's Choice Monthly Collections, Axolotyl Press novels, Short Story Paperbacks, and Mystery Scene Press. Books came out in limited edition leather bound and hardback, each numbered and autographed by the author, as well as trade paperbacks.

Partial list of famous authors published by Pulphouse Publishing includes
List of authors published by Pulphouse includes well known mystery writers

Kevin J. Anderson
Michael Bishop
Alan Brennert
Ed Bryant
Mark Budz
Adam-Troy Castro
Charles de Lint
O'Neil De Noux
George Alec Effinger
Harlan Ellison
Marina Fitch
Ester Friesner
Ron Goulart
David H. Hendrickson
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Damon Knight
Joe Lansdale
George R.R. Martin
Judith Moffet
Andre Norton
Jerry Oltion
Mike Resnick
Spider & Jeanne Robinson
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Robert Sheckley
Robert Silverberg
Dean Wesley Smith
Michael Swanwick
Jeff VanderMeer
Karl Edward Wagner
Lawrence Watt-Evans
Kate Wilhelm
Jack Williamson
F. Paul Wilson
Roger Zelazny


Max Allen Collins

Bill Crider

O'Neil De Noux

Lauren Estleman

Brian Garfield

Joe Gores

Ed Gorman

Edward D. Hoch

Stuart M. Kaminsky

John Lutz

Margaret Maron

Marcia Muller

Bill Pronzini

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Teri White

The new incarnation of Pulphouse Fiction Magazine continues through WMG Publishing, Inc. Issue 13 was just released. Available as magazines and eBooks. Can't talk up Pulphouse/WMG Publishing enough.

Their covers are the coolest.


That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com

09 July 2021

A little More About Rejections


We've talked about rejections over the years here at SleuthSayers, especially about rejections of well-known works by famous writers. I left out some of the famous rejections already discussed here (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alex Haley, Stephen King, Louis L'Amour, George Orwell, J. K. Rowling, John Kennedy Toole, and others).

J. D. Salinger's desire to be published in The New Yorker brought many rejections until they finally accepted "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."  After publishing a number of other stories there, Salinger asked if they would publish The Catcher in the Rye in segments and received a big NO from fiction editor William Maxwell.

Salinger submitted the novel to Harcourt Brace and editor Robert Giroux loved it only his boss, Eugene Reynal did not. Giroux called Salinger in to tell him the book needed to be re-written as Holden Caulfield was crazy. Re-write The Catcher in the Rye? It was too ingenious, too ingrown.

Salinger took it to Little Brown who published it without changing a word and the rest is history.


As for these other rejection stories, I don't know if all these are true. The come from multiple sources online but some probably are true:

Kon-Tiki was rejected by a number of publishers, so was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Who wants to read a book about a seagull?

A rejection of John le Carre's The Spy Who Came In From the Cold came with the notation how Le Carre "hasn't got a future."

James Joyce's Ulysses was judged obscene by a number of publishers. Some of Jack Kerouac's work was rejected for being pornographic.

Lolita was rejected by publishers fearful of being prosecuted for obscenity.

Dune was rejected 20 times.


Usula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness was rejected as being "endlessly complicated."

Pearl S. Buck's first novel East Wind: West Wind was rejected a number of times before publication.

Tony Hillerman was told to "get rid of the Indian stuff."

After a number of rejections, Zane Grey self-published is first book.

Marcel Proust also received so many rejections, he too self-published. So did Beatrix Potter with The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

James Baldwin's second novel, received a rejection describing the book as "hopelessly bad."

Lord of the Flies was rejected 20 times. That's right. Nobel Laurate William Golding's classic study of morality and immorality and human nature had a struggle getting into print.


William Faulkner's first novel was initially rejected as "unpublishable."

Chicken Soup for the Soul received 134 rejections.

Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times.

The list goes on and on. Richard Adams, Rudyard Kipling, Irving Stone, Judy Blume, Sylvia Plath, D. H. Lawrence. Even Anne Frank whose diary was rejected by 15 publisher.

NOTE: Much of the above came from bio articles of some of the writers mentions as well as Writers Write and Writers Business and the PBS American Masters Documentary Salinger, a film by Shane Salerno (2013).

So, ya'll don't give up.

www.ONeilDeNoux.com

18 June 2021

Still Writing in the Dark


In my April 2019 SleuthSayers’ posting, I mentioned how writers evolve. Most of this posting is a repeat of what was posted before.

When I began writing novels, I made detailed outlines and after completing the books, I saw I always deviated from the outline to make the story work. No problem. I also wrote a detailed synopsis of each book to satisfy agent/editor/publisher.

That was then. Now, I begin with a character with a problem. Add setting, time and a couple conflicts listed in sketchy notes so I don't forget. Sometimes the character walks off in another direction and the sketchy notes are ignored. I follow the character and write what he/she says and does.

Writing in the dark. I'm not alone in this. Better writers have been doing this for a while. Me, only recently. When it is time to get back to Lucien Caye, to rejoin his world, go back to 1951, I put him in motion and tag along. I miss him and that world so it is great to be back. Same with my other series characters.

I follow in the footsteps of James Sallis and Dean Wesley Smith and many other good writers.
James Sallis – DRIVE (made into a movie with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan out of this novel), the Lew Griffin New Orleans novels – THE LONG-LEGGED FLY, BLACK HORNET, MOTH, BLUE BOTTLE, EYE OF THE CRICKET, GHOST OF A FLEA – and many other novels, books of poetry, non-fiction books, and essays.

Sallis explains "After years of writing the well-made story," he became disaffected and bored and if he was bored, possible his readers would be bored. He sometimes goes back to Raymond Chandler's – when in doubt have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand. He decided to challenge himself and improvise.

Sallis says, "I would start with a scene. I would start with a bit of conversation, with a plot point and would see where it took me. And I would try to surprise myself." He goes to to explain writers go every way with their writing, some have to have it all clocked out and some can't do that. There is a danger to all creative work. Sallis adds how writing this way can be like throwing yourself off a cliff.

LINK to Sallis interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuXCz2gv3pc

Dean Wesley Smith has over a hundred published novels and more than 17 million copies of his books in print. Dean wrote a book about this: WRITING INTO THE DARK: HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL WITHOUT AN OUTLINE.

LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Writing-into-Dark-without-Outline-ebook/dp/B00XIPANX8/

Dean says it will start with a scene or conversation and he sees where it takes him looking for a surprise. When addressing writing into the dark, he explains, "To be vital you have to change." He goes on to remind us, "You are the God of your book."

Here is a great interview of Dean Wesley Smith:
LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=zjl66ZnrC7g/

I still like starting with the story running and catching up with the characters. Endings can be a surprise and when it works, it is like the satisfaction a homicide detective gets when the killer looks you in the eye and confesses.

That's all for now.

www.ONeilDeNoux.com

28 May 2021

Stuff about Louisiana


On December 20, 1803, The formal transfer of the Louisiana Purchase was held in the Cabildo building in New Orleans. The oldest city in the land purchased from France was Natchitoches, Louisiana, founded in 1714.

The tallest state capitol building in the U.S. is in Baton Rouge. It stands 450 feet.

State Capitol Building, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The largest enclosed stadium in the world is the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

The Port of New Orleans has historically imported and exported much of the world's food, coffee and oil.

The term "Uncle Sam" was coined along the New Orleans wharves before Louisiana was a U.S. territory as goods labeled U.S. were said to be from "Uncle Sam."

The dice game of Craps was created in the early 1800s (some say 1805, some say 1813) by New Orleanian Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville. A simplification of the European game of Hazard, which dated back to the Crusades. Craps caught on quickly and thrived along the New Orleans riverfront and spread worldwide.

Louisiana is the No. 1 producer of crawfish, shallots and alligators in the U.S.

Do I have to tell you what this is?

Oldest rice mill in the U.S. is Konriko Co. in New Iberia.

24% of the nation's salt is produced in Louisiana.

Two American Revolution battles fought outside the original 13 colonies were fought in Louisiana in 1779. At Baton Rouge, Spanish Colonial Governor Bernardo de Galvez (Spain was allied with the Americans), captured the British fort and forced the British to surrender a second fort at modern Natchez, Mississippi. In a second battle, American and Spanish privateers captured British supply ships and two armed sloops. Galvez cleared the British from the Mississippi River and the sea lakes around New Orleans (Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne and Lake Saint Catherine). Galvez later took Pensacola from the British in 1781.

Louisiana has over 6.5 million acres of wetlands, the most in the U.S.

The staircase in GONE WITH THE WIND was copied from the antebellum plantation house Chretien Point in Sunset, Louisiana, located 14 miles north of Lafayette.

Chretien Point Plantation House, Sunset, Louisiana

Louisiana's Tabasco holds the second oldest food trademark in the U.S. Patent Office.

The largest sugar cane syrup mill is Steen's in Abbeville, Louisiana. (My grandfather Calixte De Noux worked in sugar mills up and down the Mississippi in the early 20th Century).

An early bottler of Coca-Cola (some say the first bottler) Joseph Biedenham of Monroe, Louisiana, was one of the founders of Delta Airlines, initially called Delta Air Service. Also involved in the creation of the Airline was Monroe's C. E. Woolman whose use of an airplane to crop dust for boll weevils became the first crop dusting service in the world.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest over-water bridge in the world at 23.87 miles.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge between Metairie and Mandeville, Louisiana

While the International Joke Telling Contest is held annually in Opelousas, Louisiana, the biggest joke in Louisiana has been its legislature since – forever.

After the U.S. military academies, Louisiana State University (LSU, aka: The Ole War Skule) contributed the most officers to the U.S. armed forces in World War II.

The Louisiana Hayride radio show helped Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash rise to stardom. It was broadcast from KWKH Radio, Shreveport, Louisiana from 1948 into 1960. I was a kid in the 50s and a teenager in the 60s. Never listened to the Hayride. I was (still am) a rock and roller, although I do like Elvis, Hank and Mr. Cash.

The oldest pharmacy in America was claimed to have been located at 514 Chartres Street in the New Orleans French Quarter. Early medicinal mixtures were known as cocktails (good for what ails ya).


New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, 514 Chartres Street

New Orleans is birthplace of Jazz, which gave way to the Blues and Rock and Roll. Some call Jazz the only true American Art form.

Information from a number of books and online source, especially The Real Cajun Deal who copied information from Cajun Works.

That's all for now, folks.

www.oneildenoux.com

07 May 2021

Lost for 43 Years


The Death Mask of Napoleon, presented to the city of New Orleans by Napoleon's personal physician Dr. Francois Antommarchi in 1834, and put on display in the Cabildo on Jackson Square, went missing for 43 years.

I've viewed the death mask many times in the Cabildo. It is one of three bronze effigies cast from a plaster mold made by Antonmmarchi forty hours after Napoleon's death. The mask in the Cabildo was the first cast from the original mold, the other two are in Paris at the Musée Carnavalet (Musée Historique de la Ville de Paris) and in the Musée de l'Armée (Hotel des Invalides which houses the tomb of Napoleon).

The effigy does not resemble the Napoleon we see in paintings and sculptures. The cheeks are sunken showing high cheekbones, the nose has a distinct curve, its end drooping slightly. The lips are further apart on the left than the right as if the emperor is giving us a slight smile. With the head shaved in order to create the plaster mold, the forehead seems narrow and only part of the ears are shown. The lay of the head reveals a prominent Adam's apple. Such was the first Emperor of France at death at the age of 51. (Napoleon referred to himself as Emperor of the French rather than Emperor of France). The face looks more like Julius Caesar than Napoleon.

Napoleon death mask

When I first saw it as a kid, I was amazed. First death mask I'd ever seen. More amazing was the story how we almost lost the mask.

Dr. Antommarchi arrived in New Orleans in November, 1834, to great fanfare. He set up a practice as Napoleon's doctor and prospered until leaving in 1838. He joined a wealthy cousin in Cuba and became adept at removing cataracts. He died in Cuba in 1838, a yellow fever victim.

The celebrated death mask was put on immediate display and moved to the new City Hall on Lafayette Square (now called Gallier Hall after its architect James Gallier, Sr.) in 1852. During the Civil War, the New Orleans City Hall was often in upheaval with Confederates occupying it for a year and US forces for the remainder of the war after the Yankees took the city in 1862.

In 1866, former City Treasurer Dr. Adam Giffen, walking along Canal Street, saw Napoleon's Desk Mask in a junk wagon. He was astonished and followed the wagon and bought the mask from the junk dealer. The mask had been thrown out with other trash when City Hall was going through one of many clean-ups after the war. Giffen took the mask home and put it on the table in his library, showing it to family and friends.

When Dr. Giffen died in 1890, the mask was given to the widow of the doctor's son, Robert Giffen. The widow put the mask on display in her home. No one in city government missed the mask and the widow eventually sold it to Captain William G. Raoul, President of the Mexican National Railroad, who took the mask to his home in Altanta, Georgia. When Raoul learned the city of New Orleans was seraching for the mask, he contacted the city and agreed to return the mask for the price he had paid for it plus interest and an inscription about him placed next to the mask when it went back on display. New Orleans Mayor Martin Behrman eagerly agreed to the arrangement and the mask was returned in 1909 and placed in the custody of the Louisiana State Museum, to which the Cabildo is a part.

On August 13, 1902, an out-of-work traveling salesman from Chicago attempted to steal the mask. The theft was prevented by the quick intervention of E. L. Carrol, a Tulane University medical student working as a night watchman at the Cabildo.

On May 11, 1988, the Cabildo was set ablaze by men working on the roof. I happened to drive past it along Decatur Street, saw the Cabildo on fire and felt certain we'd lost the historic building – seat of the Spanish colonial government and site of the Louisiana Purchase ceremony in 1803. The New Orleans Fire Department saved the old building.


Television crews filmed heroic firefighters battling the blaze and dousing Saint Louis Cathedral next door to keep the oldest cathedral in continuous use in the United States from burning. They also filmed firefighters carrying out art and historical treasures from the Cabildo, including the death mask. As you can see, the fire engulfed the entire roof.

The Cabildo was restored to its original state and the death mask is there on display. Note the three floors. The first floor is of French design, the second Spanish architecture, the third floor and cupola of American architecture.


Much of the information in this posting is from the pamphlet DEATH MASK OF NAPOLEON, a publication of the Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans, issued January 15, 1936. Price 25¢. No copyright listed. No author listed.

That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com

16 April 2021

More About Setting


Still trying to come up with something new to say about writing that I haven't put up here on SleuthSayers.

When I read Jim Winter's post "A Sense of Setting" (April 9, 2021), I went back and saw I had posted about setting back in January 2018. Figured we have some new followers, so I want to say it again because setting is so important in fiction. Here's what I previously posted –

I was fortunate to learn early from a panel of editors:

Setting is the fictional element which most quickly distinguishes the professional writer from the beginner.

Setting is not just the name of a place or time period, it is the feeling of the place and time period. It includes all conditions – region, geography, neighborhood, buildings, interiors, climate, time of day, season of year.

Setting should appear near the beginning of a novel or story and remain throughout by answering the questions WHERE and WHEN. By using sensory details, the writer can flesh out a setting: the visual, smells, sounds, taste, feeling of atmosphere. All five sense sould be used in describing the little things – what a character sees, hears, feels, tastes and smells.

Every story takes place somewhere. Setting is more than a backdrop, it creates mood, tone and can help establish the theme of a work of fiction. Like charaters, it plays an important role in a story. Writers should not neglect setting.

When establishing a setting, get the details correct. You can't have azaleas blooming in Louisiana in December. In New Orleans, the weather is an important part of setting. We have only two seasons – STEAMY HOT (spring, summer and autumn). WET COLD (winter). There are only two mild days at the beginning of spring and two mild days at the end of autumn. Tennessee Williams said these were the only good days to be outside in New Orleans.

Go to the place you set your story (or a place like it if your setting is fictional place). Go and watch, listen, take notes. It's helped me before.

Azalea bush
Azalea bush in Louisiana, March 2021

NOTE: Do not put too much setting description in your fiction. It should not read like a travelogue.

www.oneildenoux.com

26 March 2021

The Zone can be elusive


In October 2017, I put up a post here entitled In The Zone, where I spoke about The Zone, a sort of Twilight Zone, a separate existence, a Zone where I wrote stories and novels with such focus the story flowed like a swollen river.

My wife bought me a T-shirt which read: Poor Listener. It had taken her a white to realize I wasn't listening to her because she talked too much, I wasn't listening because I was somewhere else. I was in The Zone.

The pandemic changed so many things, including making The Zone elusive to me for the first time. The scenes still play out. I still watch and listen to the characters but the distraction of living in fear keeps intruding. I still daydream but they are shorter and grow unfocused. At least I know it and can bear down and still write but I miss The Zone.

When I wrote my epic historical novel BATTLE KISS (320,000 words) and the follow-up USS RELENTLESS (234,000 words) I could step in and out of The Zone at will and everything was there.

The deaths (relatives, former co-workers, old friends) take a toll.

OK, the vaccines are here but every time I go out so many people, too many people, are unmasked and not following distancing protocols. It's frustrating.

So I rarely leave the house, which should help me to enter The Zone. And I do, but not as easily. The election took a lot out of me, the great anxiety fearing we were slipping into a fascist state.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I don't see it yet, but it has to be there.

The lessons I learned when I started writing have taught me how to narrow my focus and to keep writing, no matter what. I hope beginners listen to the lessons we sometimes give here on SleuthSayers. I learn something new here all the time.

Y'all take care. Gotta go Zoning.

www.oneildenoux.com

05 March 2021

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a personal inspiration


Freshman year at Loyola University in 1969, I took Photography 101 from a prof who was into Beat Generation writers (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carr, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others). For our final grade he asked us to do a photo essay of a poem. Any poem. He pointed to the books in his office and told us to look through them. As other students picked up Ginsberg and Patchen and Para and Rexworth, I found the collection A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, thumbed through it and the title of poem #22 on page 37 stopped me – Johnny Nolan has a patch on his ass.


I was juiced and put together a dynamite photo essay, illustrating Ferlinghetti's images:

  • "kids chase him" – easy, I went to City Park and photographed kids running after each other.
  • "screendoor summers" – a photo of an open screen door with the sun in the sky above.
  • "through the back streets" – illustrated by a photo of Antoine Alley at night (Antoine Alley runs along the downtown side of Saint Louis Cathedral).
  • "a man laments upon a violin" – visited several jazz halls until I found a man playing a violin.
  • "a doorstep baby cries" – wasn't hard, we had a few babies in the family.
  • "a ball bounced down stairs" – I used a tennis ball and a tall staircase at Loyola's Marquette Hall.

The hardest step was how to illustrate Johnny Nolan with a patch on his ass. Never found Johnny Nolan or a lookalike but I found pair of blue jeans with a patch on the butt at a thrift store and hung them from an old clothes line.

Man, I was proud of my essay. Nice, sharp black-and-white images.

Bought a copy of A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND and other books by Ferlinghetti and have read them so many times over the years. His poems inspired me, still do. The economy of words, the precise images.

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged our city, I lost most of my photos and negatives, including my photo essay of Johnny Nolan has a patch on his ass.

Recently, I read the poem to someone who have never read it and got teary eyed. Comes from being an old man. Comes from realizing how many things you loose in life.

"Johnn Nolan has a patch on his ass

kids chase him

thru screendoor summers ..."

Lawrence Ferlinghetti died on February, 22, 2021. He was 101 years old.

www.oneildenoux.com

12 February 2021

The Covid-19 Year


2020 and the beginning of 2021 in review.

The damn Cover-19 Year. I've been on lockdown (except for occasional armed excursions to grocery stories and doctor's offices). Armed with mask and face shield and avoiding the non-maskers. Got a lot of writing and reading done in my home office.

Looking back, I wrote one and a half novels in 2020. Wrote six short stories. Had one novel published. Had five original short stories published and two stories reprinted. Sold four new stories. One of my stories was awarded the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award for Best Private Eye Short Story.

It was a good year for my writing but Covid-19 overshadowed everything. A number of my former police buddies succumbed to it, so did a few of their wives. We're all up in age. Other friends have died that horrible death as well.

On the blog front today, I have nothing.

I'm tapped out of writing advice for the moment. I looked back at my previous postings on SleuthSayers and think I've said just about everything I know about writing. But I could be wrong. I've been wrong before. But for the moment, I'm tapped out.

Gave y'all the one about the dead woodpecker and the riverfront expressway and the confederate statues (which I'm still catching flak over). I did one on cemeteries and American police and a number about other writers and books by other writers.

On the ficion side, I just finished writing a novel and already started on a short story with another novel waiting impatiently to be written. Wait, I still have to do the final read-through of the novel set to be published in spring. So I'm busy. It's a process.

Maybe, by writing so much fiction, my mind doesn't have room at the moment to write a piece of non-fiction, a blog. So I'll fudge along and try to think of something for the future. The way my mind works at the moment is – if I think about something to write, it defaults to fiction.

Oh, I just thought of something to mention. My dislike of social media. Not all social media, just the mundane, repititious junk (like I care what someone's birthday cake looks like). There I go. I'm being a jerk. That might be the most important thing in that person's life at the moment. Just scroll down and GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA and write or read or go around and pet all the cats (which annoys most of them as they are sleeping).

Hey, I do have a piece of advice for beginning writers.

Daydream. Daydream and turn your daydreams into stories. This sounds trite but it works.

That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.

Old Audubon Park Zoo, New Orleans, ©1976 O'Neil De Noux

www.oneildenoux.com


22 January 2021

Still Collecting Names


This writer has lifted character names from sidewalks, signs, name tags in grocery stores, the Olympics, and from live television. There's a new source of names for villains and other despicable characters – the Trump Insurrection.

Just as the bad year 2020 was behind us, we started 2021 with more Americans dying each week in a pandemic many still believe is a hoax – "It's just like the flu." And an insurrection. As the investigations continue, the names of people who desecrated the US Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt the orderly transition of power, their names surface.

I have a NAMES document on my computer where I collect names for characters in my fiction. Lot of names of good people to use and many names of bad people from Nazis to murderers and now – insurrectionists. NOTE: I never use their full name so as not to further display their name so I switch first and last names but despicable is despicable.

NOTE: The FBI's postings seeking information for Assault on Federal Officers and Violence at the United States Capitol draws me to faces. So far I've recognized none of my relatives or friends.

flag
Flag above the Battle of New Orleans, Chalmette, Louisiana

I've more names of good people to use than bad.

I've used names of friends after asking them, never using their full name. Most like it and brag about it.  I have a writer friend whose name will remain confidential who has used the last names of his three wives for villains many times.

I've named a few characters from intersections. Julia Street intersects Carondelet in the New Orleans CBD, hence the character Julia Carondelet.Robertson intersects Bartholomew so we have a Bartholomew Robertson. Dante Street intersects Joseph Street, so we have a Joe Dante.

Naming characters is a ritual I relish. I work hard at it. I believe nearly every other writer does as well. Or they should.


That's all for now.

Stay safe, everyone. This pandemic is far from over.

01 January 2021

Debris


Sometimes it all falls together, like debris kicked up in a sandstorm falling into the places missing in the story. Sometimes, in the middle of a novel or in the middle of writing a short story as you go along, the little nuggets, the little twists and turns of plot, the little comments of characters, the smart talk brings it all together so the story becomes neatly packaged like a Christmas gift.


Most of the time writing a short story and especially a novel, it’s like working in a rock quarry, chiseling blocks of granite into something recognizable. If you hammer long enough, if you stick to it – never give up – it’ll come. Maybe not the way you originally planned but the characters, storyline, setting, dialogue, conflict will come together.


But the debris which comes along and fills the piece with a touch of dialogue so right for the piece, a touch of unplanned drama, the brush of an eyelid against a face when they kiss, a passion which grabs you, a pain which grabs your heart because Robert Frost was right when he said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”


It works in mysteries as well as mainstream fiction.


Been noticing the debris the older I get, the more I write, like my subconscious peeking in and whispering to my fingers as I type and there it is, the debris collecting, the little nugget in the story.


Wrote a story a few months back as a Christmas present for my wife. Been doing that for the 29 years we’ve been together. Sold most of them. The one this year is the best I’ve written, maybe one of the best I’ve ever written, a mystery. We’ll see if a magazine editor or anthology editor agrees. If not, we’ll put it up on Amazon Kindle.


Back to the novel, back into the quarry. It’s coming together as well. In slow motion, like everything in 2020.


Happy New Year, everyone. 2021’s gotta be better than 2020.


No words necessary
 
 






 


www.oneildenoux.com


11 December 2020

The Selectively Social Writer


This blog is supposed to be about writing.  My last posting was about cemeteries, which we sometimes use as settings here in New Orleans, so I got away with the posting.

My wife has been buying me T-shirts with printing in front for the last few years and she manages to nail my quirks and personality traits. Her latest is the most revealing. It is me as a writer today –

"I'm not anti-social. I am selectively social. There's a difference."

Here's a sequel of sorts –

"You read my shirt. That's enough social interaction for one day."

And more – 

"Historical fiction writer: I'd find you more interesting if you were dead."

"My life is based on a true story."

"I don't like going outside. It's too PEOPLEY out there."

"First of all, NO. Second of all, NO."

"Careful, or you'll end up in my novel."

"Where ever ya go, there ya are."

"If I ignore you, will you go away?"

Harking back to my law enforcement days – 

"I speak fluent sarcasm."

"I'm not always rude and sarcastic … sometimes I'm asleep."

"It only takes one slow-walking person in the store to destroy the illusion I'm a nice person."

"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."

"My people skills are fine. It's my tolerance of stupidity that needs work."

"Sarcasm. The body's natural defense against stupidity."

"People who think they know everything, annoy those of us that do."

"Sometimes I wonder what happened to the people who asked me for directions."

Back to my writing life. Now that I'm retired and write full time in my home office. I take naps.

"I already want to take a nap tomorrow."

"If you love someone, let them nap."

"I have a date with my bed tonight ... and we're totally going to sleep together."

Jeffty showing me how to nap

Lastly, this one is for me, the husband –

"WARNING: Poor Listener." (illustrated below)

Which brings me back to the topic of this posting – the selectively social writer. I tell people I'm not a recluse but I play one in real life. This is why the lockdown and social distancing we're in now does not bother me. When I was young, I was social. When I was young, I went out a lot, even to church. Today I'm selectively social and a non-practicing Catholic. No need to practice. I've got it down pat.

Which is why you don't find me at high mass or many writer's gatherings. Y'all have fun. Do all the things a writer should do. I'm done. I write. That's it. I'm a selectively social writer.

That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.

www.oneildenoux.com

20 November 2020

Little Cities of the Dead


When the French colonized New Orleans in 1718, they encountered immediate problems. One was the high water table (about 12 inches), so burying bodies in the ground was not a good idea, so they built above ground cemeteries. Not uncommon in the tropical West Indies and what we call Central and South America.

Won't bore you with details. Here's a good article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_Cemeteries_of_New_Orleans

We cherish our cemeteries. They are beautiful and we (and tourists) take thousands of photos of them.

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1

Police Mutual Benevolent Association tomb in Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

Walled or Oven Tombs in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1



Two of the angels of Saint Louis Cemetery No. 3

Cypress Grove Cemetery

Cypress Grove provided a nice book cover

Audio book cover, photo taken at Metairie Cemetery

photo from Saint Louis Cemetery #1

That's all for now. Y'all stay safe.

www.oneildenoux.com