Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, here we come – this week. Unbelievable. I submitted my short story last summer with low expectations of winning the Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize because I have never been recognized as a fiction writer, but lo and behold, my story The Gods are Stacked against Us became a finalist in the contest which meant it will be included in the SAS Anthology for 2017 which, in turn, meant an invitation to read at the festival this month.

So Pretty and I will be off to New Orleans like a herd of turtles in a matter of days. What an odd time to leave in the middle of moving out of Casa de Canterbury to Casa de Cardinal, someone might think (and someone would be correct). The vicissitudes of life aren’t always coordinated properly, as my daddy used to say when he waxed eloquently about them, and he should have known that if anyone did since he died right in the middle of them at age 51.

I will participate with four other writers on a panel called Home is Where the Art Is, or Is It?  to discuss the impact our homes have on our work…I’m really looking forward to talking about the importance of time and place to me in my work. Plus, I’ll have an opportunity to read an excerpt from my short story during a reading session along with eight other finalists.

The festival brings together leading poets, authors and other literati notables in the LGBTQ community – I recognize many of their names and writing from years of reading and adulation and will now have the opportunity to meet and greet them over cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres on Bourbon Street Friday evening.

I’m trying to prepare myself to talk about literary things without sounding too “un-literary.”  Let’s see…

Where did you study writing, and how does that affect your writing style?

That’s a tough one. I’ve had two writing classes. The first was a business communications class at UT Austin in 1966 that focused on how to write a good business letter with an emphasis on brevity – say more with less was the mantra. Be direct – no adverbs, a few adjectives here and there, but mostly noun, verb combo and a simple Dear Sir or Madam beginning with a Sincerely yours ending. Cut and dry. No horsing around. No nonsense.

My second writing class was in 2006 at Midlands Technical College for a six-week Monday-night adult learning class that focused on the basic elements of fiction writing. My accomplishment was a story I called Payday Someday which turned out to be the first chapter of my first book Deep in the Heart. Nonfiction actually, but hey, nothing’s perfect.

Hm. I think I’ll skip that question and move on to Why do you write?

I write because I can’t keep myself from writing. I write because I can speak for those who have no voice and continue the fight for fairness and respect I’ve always believed in. I write because Pretty, my Aunt Lucille and a host of people, some known, some unknown love to read what I write. I write because I hope, along with many other aging Baby Boomers,  to have a legacy – that my words will survive me.

Okay. Way too heavy for cocktail party conversation. Skip that one, too.

Let’s try Hi how are you? Where are you from?

Now that’s a complicated question. I was born and raised in rural Grimes County, Texas…

Eyes are rolling. People walking away. Clearly small talk not my strength.

Pretty, can I get you another diet coke??