Upcoming Author Events

Book Signing and Program News:

Tomorrow (Monday) morning at 8:00 a.m., I’ll be interviewed at The Cross, KBMQ/KLIC  in Monroe, Louisiana.  The subject will be writing and discussion of my children’s book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House.

Tuesday and Wednesday, April 1-2, I’ll be at the junior high in Hallsville, TX, presenting my Jim Limber and Civil War Program.

In addition, I’ve been asked to perform for the children at the Swamp Celts Festival in Baton Rouge, April 12.  I’ll also have a booth to sign my books at.   You  can learn more about this fantastic Celtic festival here, http://www.swampcelts.com/ 

Excitement is building for my Scottish Alphabet book which we hope to have in print by August-September.  I hope to begin preselling and making presentations for the book soon. If you would like to preorder a signed and discounted copy, drop me a note and we’ll discuss it. rickeyp@bayou.com

A Wonderful Civil War Song: On Rosemary Poole-Carter’s website, I found a beautiful arrangement of a song, “Somebody’s Darling.” If you like Civil War music, be sure and check it out. (Wava Everton, vocals; Lesley Modisette, guitar) Rosemary is the talented author of Women of Magdalene. http://www.poole-carter.info/images/Wava%20Everton%20-%20Somebodys%20Darling.mp3

Tools for the Writer

Every now and then I take an inventory on the tools that are helpful to me in my writing. Of course, the most important tool is self-discipline, for as John Dufresne says, “The first rule of writing is to sit your butt down and write.” However, I’ve also found these tools most helpful:

1. My Dictionaries.  I use two: Miriam-Webster 10th Collegiate Edition and the American Heritage 4th Edition.

2. My Thesaurus: The Synonym Finder.  There’s not a thesaurus like it.

3. Magazines:  I read these for ideas, inspiration, and writing trends. Currently I subscribe to Poets & Writers, Writer’s Chronicle (this keeps me informed on college trends and the academic side of creative writing) Cowboys & Indians (as it seems more and more of my work is going west, and besides, I just like it) and Oxford American (for the Southerner in me).

4. Fiction and Novel Writer’s Market by Writer’s Digest. Don’t know where or to whom to send your work? This is invaluable! I should get a new one each year, but I usually get two years out of an edition. Mine is already dated and needs to be replaced.

5. The Internet. Now, one can obtain instant answers, spelling, information, or directions immediately.  Lots of junk, true, but good stuff too.

5.  My iBook. My whole life is in my laptop. I would not surrender it during a robbery. It is more portable than a typewriter and I can usually find Wi-Fi free, though that is becoming more difficult.  As soon as I’m financially able (yuk, yuk!), I plan on using the AT&T service that enables you to have wireless anywhere you can get a signal for a cell phone.

Five Reasons You (As a writer) Should Write Children’s Books

 One of the programs I do in schools is creative writing. In those sessions, I teach students how to create their own children’s book.  Teachers with whom I’ve discussed this program are excited about it.  If you’re a writer, you might find a door into being published through a good children’s book. Now, writing a good children’s book is harder than it may sound, but it is worth the effort. Here are five reasons why you (as a writer) might want to write a children’s book.

1. As a  writer, you need to know about the genre. Everything you learn about writing and publishing can be of use to you in your marketing and in your conversation.

2. There is a huge market for children’s books. Parents who read WANT their children to read.

3. If you want to reach two or more generations at one time with important information, then a children’s book is the way to do it. This is why I chose to write Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House in children’s book form. I knew I would reach teachers, parents, grandparents, and children with this touching story that’s been left out of the history books.

4. Children’s books are valuable to teachers as performance readings and story time material.

5.  Children’s books inspire students to become writers and artists.

Say it ain’t so! Civil War Quotations: “The Rebel Army is now the legitimate property of the Army of the Potomac.” — Union general Joseph Hooker said this shortly before he was defeated by the Confederate Army at Chancellorsville, VA.

Another favorite ironic quote: ” They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”


Certainly billed as one of the most ironic and famous last words of a man at the battle of Spotsylvania.  The highest ranking Union general to be killed in the war,  “Uncle John Sedgewick, was shot through the left eye by a Confederate sharpshooter (using a Whitworth).

Photos from My Travels

Not long ago, as you may remember from my blog notes, I was in Dublin, Texas. In the parade, I was reminded of our debt to Mexico. Here is a photo:


Here are the Dublin Beauty Queens! What beauties!

beauty queens

Here I am, waiting on the parade and orders to march.

dublin parade

And here is a photo of a beautiful girl. I call this photo, “California Bonnie.” She is standing underneath a statue of the Greek goddess, Diana, the Huntress.


I do try to take as many photos as I can these days.  I throw away many. But I’ve learned those Kodak moments can really mean something in the future, but if we lose them, we have to live with the regrets.

First Lines . . . A Look at James Lee Burke

After listening to The Tin Roof Blowdown on audio CD by James Lee Burke, I am more impressed than ever with Burke’s writing.  His writing has fascinated me for some years now. Since first lines in writing a novel are so important, I decided to take a look at the first lines of some of the Dave Robicheaux novels:

In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead “The sky had gone black at sunset, and the storm had churned inland from the Gulf and drenched New Iberia and littered East Main with leaves and tree branches from the long canopy of oaks that covered the street from the old brick post office to the drawbridge over Bayou Teche at the edge of town.”

Jolie Blon’s Bounce “Growing up during the 1940s in New Iberia, down on the Gulf Coast, I never doubted how the world worked.”

A Stained White Radiance “I had known the Sonnier family all my life.”

Black Cherry Blues ” Her hair is curly and gold on the pillow, her skin white in the heat lightning that trembles beyond the pecan trees outside the bedroom window.”

Heaven’s Prisoners “I was just off Southwest Pass, between Pecan and Marsh islands, with the green whitecapping water of the Gulf Stream to the south and the long, flat expanse of the Louisiana coastline behind me–which is really not a coastline at all but instead of huge wetlands area of sawgrass, dead cypress strung with wisps of moss, and a maze of canals and bayous that are choked with Japanese water lilies whose purple flowers audibly pop in the morning and whose root systems can wind around your propeller shaft like cable wire.”

Dixie City Jam “Not many people believe this, but in the early months of 1942, Nazi submarines used to lie in wait at the mouth of the Mississippi for the tankers that sailed without naval escort from the oil refineries at Baton Rouge into the Gulf of Mexico.”

*Though there are several other novels I could have used, I think these are representative of Burke’s style. Writing in the first person, he is a master of narration with wonderful diction and insights into the human condition. I would like to know your thoughts on Burke, so drop me an email with Burke in the “reply” window.

Thoughts on Jefferson Davis

Thoughts on Jefferson Davis: After refraining from reading our local paper for months, I was once again reminded why I had made that decision. One of the AP articles the Monroe-News Star ran on Sunday, Feb. 24, and on the front page, was entitled, “Other Civil War leader gets little respect at 200.” The AP article claims that people are not excited about Jefferson Davis’ birthday celebration planned for this year. It points out that President Bush was excited about Lincoln (the article called him the Great Emancipator; is the author of the article kidding?) The article claims that Davis’ 200th has “turned out to be something of a lost cause.” This author is so out of touch and it is biased press like this that makes me distrust many modern journalists in print and media. To contest this article, I want to make these points:

1) The claim is without evidence. Those (thousands of them) who do want to make this year special for Davis know that excitement is high.

2)  This is the year of Jefferson Davis. Note this article printed at: http://shnv.blogspot.com/

Jefferson Davis was born 200 years ago and 2008 will be a special year for the Sons of Confederate Veterans as we honor the memory and legacy of the one and only Confederate President. As your Commander-in-Chief, I will ask every Compatriot, Camp and Division to do whatever is necessary to see that the Davis record is honored both as a Confederate President, patriotic soldier, loving family man, and as an American statesman.

The General Executive Council has decided that something unique needs to be done to truly honor Jefferson Davis. By a unanimous vote, the SCV will commission famed sculptor Gary Casteel to create a statue of Jefferson Davis which will be here 100 years from now as a token of the respect of the membership of the SCV in 2008. This will be our token of affection and gratitude for what Jefferson Davis did and what he stood for. It is hoped that the statue will be completed this year.

Our monument will emphasize the humanity of Jefferson Davis. It will consist of three figures, Jefferson Davis, his son Joseph, and their adopted black child Jim Limber, a person lost in history by revisionist historians who felt his existence would impair their contrived notions of Davis. The statue will serve as an educational reminder that Davis was much more than the villain today’s politically correct historians castigate.

The statue will be paid for through individual contributions. There will be no corporate or municipal shakedowns such as when the Abraham Lincoln statue was forced into a Confederate landmark, the Tredegar Ironworks. A careful fundraising program will be created for SCV contributions and freedom loving Americans who understand what Davis represents. The SCV statue will represent the love of the Southern people who Davis bore much of the suffering for. We have not determined the exact location of the statue but will determine a suitable spot during the time the statue is being constructed.

I ask all members to be a part of this historical endeavor. Our statue will be the first public statue of Jefferson Davis in a century. Every member, Camp and Division are asked to contribute to this when we begin fundraising. The SCV may be the only organization in this country who will honor the memory of Jefferson Davis and that includes many Southern organizations. Next year will be the bi-centennial of Abraham Lincoln. I am sure you can guess the hoopla that will entail. This year is the bi-centennial of our President. Let’s show the world that Jefferson Davis was not only a man of his times but a man for the ages.

Christopher Sullivan
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Scottish Alphabet Book

Well, I’ve returned from California. Time now to settle down to my writing work. I’m still in traveler recovery–so many images, so many people I met, so much I’ve learned. My next children’s book (published by Pelican) is a Scottish Alphabet (ABC) Book. It should be out in August if all goes well. I hope that anyone who is Scottish will order a copy. Here is a sample of the artwork, done by Connie McLennan,a freelance illustrator. She is a member of the San Francisco Society of Illustrators, the Northwest Air Force Artists, and the Picture Book Artists Association. She has won awards from both the San Francisco Society of Illustrators and the Sacramento Ad Club. She is also a founding member of OASES, a parent advocacy group for children with special needs. McLennan creates and sells “daily paintings” via her painting blog and through eBay.  Here is a sample of what she’s done with my book:


As you can see, the artwork is wonderful! Once again, I was lucky to have my publisher find an illustrator who could do wonderful work.

Goodbye, Catalina . . .

According to http://www.catalina.com/history.html the Spanish explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, first sighted Catalina on October 7, 1542. Then, on “November 24, the eve of St. Catherine’s Day, the ship of the second Spanish explorer, Sebastian Viscaino, sighted the Island. Viscaino renamed it Santa Catalina in honor of Saint Catherine.” Like the Spanish explorers, my visit was short, but significant to me. The ancient Pimungans (first island inhabitants) are gone now, with only their steatite (soapstone) and chert artifacts to remind us of their presence here. In place of their canoes, yachts and sailboats fill the harbor. The thousands that come to the island’s shores each year come to relax, to shop, to view the scenery of this semi-arid rustic island. I met many wonderful people from many places and as usual, learned much more than I expected or intended. It has been quiet here, in comparison to other parts of my trip, and I can see why Zane Grey chose this place as a home and a writing retreat. I like it as a hotel/retreat. The rooms have no TVs or phones. Each room is named after a Zane Grey novel. They are furnished simply, but adequately.

On Monday, I went to the Airport in the Sky where many movies have been filmed. There was a little historical display. To my distress, I found out that the Yankees established a base here in the Civil War in 1864. As usual, they ran everyone else off the island. I wondered why they would put a base here so late in the war, then I remembered that the Alabama and Shenandoah were terrorizing Yankee fleets and decimating the North’s whaling business. As this photo reveals, I found one of the Yankees who had remained on the island.


This morning, I looked out my open window and the sea was as slick as glass (pardon the cliche), sunlight touching its surface—it should have been painted. In a few minutes, I’ll make my way to the ferry, back to LAX Airport, and then to DFW and on to Louisiana. It will be a long day, but I’ll be meditating on what I’ve seen, what I’ve done, and those I’ve met.

Goodbye, Catalina . . . Until next time.

My Last Day in California

Today was packed solid. As I’ve had no car here on Catalina, my legs have gotten a good workout traipsing the island hills.  I took a tour of the Catalina Island Casino (which in the true denotation of the word means a place of entertainment NOT a gambling place). What a fascinating facility!

One of the most interesting things that happened today was hearing a musical duo, who cvalled themselves, Up in the Air, perform. With me is Frederico and the very beautiful Porschia. What a voice that girl had! And Frederico made magic on his nylon string guitar. Listening to them had to be one of the highlights of the trip.

up in the air

Another interesting person I met was Ron Pyke, owner of the Bookseller on Metropole Ave.,  a bookshop specializing in “Fine Old Books, Maps, and Prints.”  He is quite an artist in his own right.  I found him very conversant on literary matters, he knows many writers (including Anaïs Nin), actors, and other people of fame, and he loves his work. His store is well-stocked, and I could have easily bought more books than I could have carried home.  He now carries my books in his store. Here is a picture of me with Ron:

ron pyke

Tomorrow, I’m leaving early to fly back to Louisiana, so there will likely be no blog entry. Check back Thursday though.

California Book Tour Photoblog

I’ve studied about Avalon for many years, and I finally am able to visit it, at least in the form of Avalon on Catalina Island. I’ve learned today much about the island’s fascinating history, so much that it will require several entries to do my adventures justice. I decided to catch up on entries of my trip by showing some photos and making brief comments on each. First of all, here is a photo of me and Lou, the CRM at the Barnes & Noble in Palm Desert. He is a fine manager, all business and when he saw I was all business too, we got along well. I have a definite invitation to return. He and his staff were sharp and supportive and my signing there last Saturday would have to be one of my favorite author events.


Here are some photos taken at Cabazon, on my way from Palm Desert to Los Angeles. The first is of me, posing with a gold prospector outside the general store and restaurant in the small town. As my relic hunting addiction would suggest, I’ve always wanted to search for gold.


Behind the restaurant was a gift shop, but this shop was unique in that it had HUGE dinosaurs constructed, sculptures created by the famous Claude Bell of Knot’s Berry Farm. For example, here is a Brontosaurus (more correctly, an Apatosaurus).


And here is a photo of a dinosaur devouring a writer. I call this photo, “Writer’s Digest.”

writer's digest

Read more of these dinosaurs here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabazon_Dinosaurs