I’m very excited to announce that today is Release Dayfor the latest book by Edward J. Branley — Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store. I did the research, editing and fact-checking. Edward is beyond knowledgeable about all things NOLA, so it’s fun and interesting to work with him. I never know where our conversations will wind up, which rabbit hole I get to jump down. I always learn cool tidbits that I can use, and more information about New Orleans, which is awesome.
Come over to Amazon and order one, you won’t be disappointed!
Curious? Here’s a sneak peek of Chapter One: “Gumbo”
Gumbo is a wonderful soup that combines many flavors and ingredients, turning them into a unique dish that is revered in New Orleans. It’s the perfect food analogy to the city of New Orleans itself. And a food analogy is the perfect way to describe New Orleans in the first place.
Gumbo has as many variations as there are cooks who make the soup: Chicken-and-sausage gumbo. Seafood gumbo. Okra. Filé. Oysters. Crawfish? “Not in my gumbo,” a chef I know says. Turkey gumbo, made on the day after Thanksgiving. Each one is unique. Each one makes up the big picture.
New Orleans isn’t just one big pot of gumbo. The city is a collection of pots. Downtown gumbos include the French Quarter, the Treme, along Bayou St. John, the Sixth Ward and many other neighborhoods. Uptown gumbo is the Central Business District (CBD), the Warehouse District, the Garden District, Faubourg Bouligny, the University District, Carrollton. Back-of-town gumbos exist on both sides of Canal Street. Then there’s Canal Street itself. The 140-foot-wide main street isn’t merely a dividing line but rather a gumbo in and of itself.
At midnight in the Quarter to noon in Thibodaux, I will play for gumbo
—Jimmy Buffett, “I Will Play For Gumbo”
Like gumbo recipes, New Orleans has changed over time. At the start of the twentieth century, the city was the second-largest port in the United States. It was a city adjusting to twenty years of unprecedented expansion after the Civil War. Immigrants from all over Europe, but particularly from Italy and Germany, made their way to New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century, shifting the flavors of the gumbos that are the city’s neighborhoods.
When the Americans took over New Orleans in 1803, they didn’t really bring a gumbo recipe with them. The Anglo Irish brought their own flavors, though, and those blended into the recipes that were already simmering on the stoves. By the 1850s, residents of the city could taste many variations of gumbo, and their reports of how wonderful this was attracted even more people to the magic.
While New Orleans was very much caught up in the political conflicts of the late 1850s that led to the formation of the Confederate States of America, New Orleans recognized that the port was paramount. When it was clear that the blockade of the port by the Union navy was killing the city, Farragut’s invasion from the mouth of the Mississippi in April 1862 was a force that locals could not withstand. Union occupation spared New Orleans the fate of Atlanta and enabled the port to continue to grow. Reconstruction allowed the merchants operating shops and stores on Canal Street to re-stock and expand. By the 1880s, dry goods stores supplied a number of ingredients needed to keep the gumbos simmering.
The 1890s brought a huge change to the retail landscape of New Orleans. S.J. Shwartz, financed by his father-in-law, Isidore Newman, opened the first department store in the city, Maison Blanche, in 1895. This development inspired other New Orleans merchants to follow suit, and in 1903, the Krauss brothers shifted focus from niche-market sales to the general-merchandise model. The gumbo pots of 1903 were flavorful and diverse.
Take the French Quarter, the city’s first neighborhood. When Adrien de Pauger laid out the plan for the original city in 1725, New Orleans was a French city. The French influence dominated until control of the city was passed to the Spanish in 1766, lest it become one of the spoils of war between the French and the British. The Spanish tweaked the gumbo recipe for twenty years, and then they were forced to totally re-create the recipe after the Great Fire of 1788. French-built homes and buildings were replaced with new ones that followed strict building codes. Spanish Colonial architectural influences left us with the high-walled houses focused on central courtyards, their beauty hidden from passersby on the streets. French priests tending their flock found themselves under the administration of Spanish bishops sent from Havana. The mix of languages, colors and political passions in the port appeared impossible to navigate, but the cooks blended the various ingredients into their gumbos.
The Vieux Carré, the Old Square, dating back to the 1720s, was a vibrant residential neighborhood at the beginning of the twentieth century. The original residents of the French Quarter—the French-Spanish “Creoles”—were the establishment families who didn’t want to associate with newcomers. Germans didn’t speak much English when they came to New Orleans. Sicilians didn’t either, and the Anglo Irish Americans, as well as the Creoles, viewed them as no better than African Americans. The easy solution for the Creoles was to move uptown. As they moved, others filled the gumbo pot. By the time department stores came onto the scene, Italian grocers and bakers, German butchers and African Americans were the people walking up Bourbon and Royal Streets to those big stores on Canal Street.
New Orleans outgrew the French Quarter by the time of the Louisiana Purchase. Bernard Mandeville de Marigny, son of a wealthy plantation family, decided to get out of the agriculture business. He subdivided his plantation, located on the downriver side of Esplanade Avenue and the French Quarter, into modern-style residential lots. Creoles, African Americans and Germans jumped on those lots and built out the neighborhood. As those first families acquired wealth and influence, many of them left Faubourg Marigny for Uptown. By the time the Krauss brothers opened their store, the flavor of the Marigny gumbo was distinctly Italian.
Like the French Quarter, New Orleans outgrew the Marigny, as immigrants from Europe came to the city in large numbers after the Civil War. The Italian families working in the Quarter and the Germans working along the Riverfront in the Marigny moved farther down the river. The political designation for the neighborhood was the “Ninth Ward,” and that name stuck. These immigrants hopped on the Desire streetcar line to join the residents of the Quarter as they all went to Canal Street to shop. The Ninth Ward gumbo was a true mix of cultures, until white flight of the 1960s removed much of the Italian and German influence, leaving the neighborhood as predominantly an African American gumbo.
While New Orleans’ expansion was primarily up- and downriver, there was movement north, along the navigation canals and Bayou St. John. The Carondelet Canal connected Faubourg Treme from 1795 until the 1920s. That water path to the outside world attracted folks who wanted to live along it. The neighborhood expanded east, from the banks of the bayou. The streets of the French Quarter, which had already been extended north through Treme, now continued, as they met up with Esplanade Avenue.
This northern expansion was typical, following a suburban expansion model. Families who couldn’t afford the courtyards of the French Quarter went north, to Treme. Those looking for bigger lots on which to build bigger houses kept going, following the bayou. When they got there, they built homes with front lawns in the English style. Their homes kept distinct French-Spanish features, though, such as wrought-iron fencing. The size of homes near the bayou ran from comfortable two-stories to the grandeur of the Luling Mansion. As the neighborhood matured, less expensive houses popped up in its interior, shotgun doubles and Creole cottages, for blue-collar families.
Faubourg St. John’s gumbo was an incredibly diverse mix. Waterfront businesses lined the bayou. St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, at the bayou end of Esplanade Avenue, along with the horse racetrack next to it, gave New Orleans City Railroad Company incentive to run streetcars from the river to the bayou, along Esplanade Avenue. That long run connected with cross-town transit lines as well. Good public transit attracts all types of people to a neighborhood, and that was the case with the bayou. When Krauss Department Store opened, residents of the bayou neighborhood could get into downtown by “riding the belt”—taking the Esplanade and Canal Streetcar lines into town and back home again, as they ran a circular route in opposite directions.
The popularity of Faubourg St. John continued, and folks looking for affordable housing moved even farther north, into Gentilly. Gentilly Road and Grande Route St. John brought streetcars and other vehicles east from the bayou, cemetery and racetrack until they connected with the Pontchartrain Railroad. The trains ran from Faubourg Marigny, out to Lake Pontchartrain, on Elysian Fields Avenue. The high ground of the Gentilly Ridge attracted homeowners, and a new neighborhood grew out from the ridge. The gumbo of Gentilly was less a mix of specific ethnic groups but a true New Orleans flavor, as younger generations of families who had lived in the city for some time moved out of mom and dad’s house in the Ninth Ward, looking to establish themselves.
It wouldn’t be until after World War II that retail stores expanded into Gentilly. As Krauss sought customers in the early twentieth century, the people of Gentilly made their way to Canal Street, along with everyone else.
The expansion of New Orleans along the Mississippi River ran in both directions from Canal Street. As the Creole families grew out from the Quarter, east and north, the Anglo Irish and Americans who came to the city in the wake of the Louisiana Purchase established themselves on the upriver/uptown side of Canal. The offices and businesses set up by these folks wanted to be close to the main street of the city and the downriver growth. Unwilling to allow the Creoles to control water-borne commerce, the Americans built a second canal, whose turning basin was located along South Rampart Street. This New Basin Canal extended out to the city’s West End. Stores and offices replaced homes in those first blocks just past Canal Street, as those who worked in what became known as the Central Business District, or CBD, moved farther uptown.
These offices and stores intersected with the activities of the riverfront within a few blocks of Canal Street. Wharves along the river gave way to warehouses a block or two in, along with light industrial sites. The Germans and Irish who came to New Orleans as human ballast on merchant ships out of Liverpool could find work along the river, so they built houses within walking distance of those jobs. The Irish built their first church parish, St. Patrick’s, on Camp Street in 1834. The Irish prayed for the men their families lost to accidents and disease during the construction of the New Basin Canal. Mothers worked hard, praying regularly that their children would fare better in America than their husbands. For the most part, they did, and the Irish community continued to grow, moving farther upriver. By the 1850s, they occupied so much of the riverfront neighborhoods that this section of the city became known as the Irish Channel.
The Irish were not the only ethnic group working along the river. By the 1850s, the Germans, along with Creole families, also made their homes uptown. The Irish Channel was actually three gumbo pots. The Germans and Irish were so separated, they even built their own cathedral-sized churches, across from each other, on Constance Street. These communities were quite insular, but they still made their way from the Channel back down to Canal Street. When Krauss opened in 1903, the Irish Channel still reflected the divisions on which it was built.
Like Bernard Mandeville de Marigny, plantation owners subdivided the land just upriver from the city, as it was more profitable to build houses than grow cotton and sugar cane. While the Irish Channel grew directly along the river, Americans built luxurious homes in the English style, north of Magazine Street, between Jackson, Louisiana and St. Charles Avenues. By the Civil War, this Garden District was the wealthiest neighborhood in the city outside of the French Quarter. The plantations that remained after the Civil War were subdivided, as uptown now extended from the Garden District, upriver to the former city of Carrollton. As the expansion continued, the streets running up- and downriver were extended: Tchoupitoulas and Annunciation Streets, near the river; Magazine Street, the de facto boundary between rich and poor; and St. Charles Avenue, Freret Street and Claiborne St. Charles Avenue, Uptown. The St. Charles streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line (since 1834) in the United States. Library of Congress.
The uptown pots of gumbo were as unique as the subdivisions created there. The Irish Channel had its deep ethnic divisions. The Garden District’s wealth made it difficult for people other than the Anglo Irish, along with a few Creoles, to move in. Faubourg Bouligny, the subdivision that grew out of the breakup of the Bouligny plantation, extended uptown past the Garden District. Once a hotbed of horse breeding and racing, the area continued the trend of offering land where families could build both small shotguns and larger single-family homes.
Jefferson City and the University District all were more “American” than specific ethnic enclaves, always with the African American flavors blending in to make them interesting.
Even though the city grew upriver, the flow of retail goods did not follow the people. That meant all those families living uptown still had to make their way to Canal Street. Transit operators recognized this, as streetcars snaked their way through the uptown gumbo pots. Buses made connections to the streetcars, so even the folks of Carrollton could shop in the CBD.
As the river wound its way north from the French Quarter, small towns popped up in between the plantations. New Orleans annexed the city of Lafayette early on, absorbing the wealth of the Garden District. Jefferson City, just upriver from Faubourg Bouligny, was next, followed by the city of Carrollton.
By the 1890s, higher education had come to uptown. The Society of Jesus purchased a parcel of land that had been part of the Foucher Plantation. The Jesuits established Loyola University of New Orleans on that site. The Tulane Education Foundation acquired the land next to Loyola, constructing the first buildings of Tulane University in 1904. Both universities designed their campuses so their fronts were along St. Charles Avenue, making both schools easily accessible by streetcar. With the annexation of the city of Carrollton, the city of New Orleans had pushed expansion as far upriver as the adjoining parish of Jefferson would allow. Carrollton became the northernmost riverfront neighborhood.
It was a rich and diverse pot of gumbo, attracting Sicilian farmers from farther upriver into an area already populated by all the different types of folks found in other parts of the city. New Orleans’s boundaries along the river were firmly set by the time the Krauss brothers opened shop in the 1200 block of Canal Street.
Throughout this brief survey of the neighborhoods of New Orleans, note that there isn’t a separate black neighborhood. Since the founding of the city, black folks have been ubiquitous, both as slaves and as free people of color. The plantations along the river had significant slave populations, and the planters who maintained homes in the city proper staffed their households with slaves.
Africans did not come to New Orleans exclusively as enslaved humans. The port attracted free men of all colors who were looking to make a living and improve their position in society. Affairs between white masters and their slaves were commonplace. Some masters granted the children of their concubines their freedom. Those folks, along with blacks from the islands, made their homes in New Orleans, initially in Faubourgs Treme and Marigny. By the Civil War, Treme had become the cultural center of the black Creole community. St. Augustine Parish, founded in 1842, was the first truly integrated Christian congregation in the city.
Treme was the nexus, and black folks expanded their influence from there. Bernard Mandeville de Marigny did not segregate sales of lots when he subdivided his land, so the black population of the two neighborhoods adjacent to the French Quarter enjoyed solid growth. That growth continued as the city pushed north, into Faubourg St. John and the Sixth and Seventh Wards. Over time, black Creole evolved into just Creole, as the African American community began to dominate the “downtown back of town” neighborhoods.
The arrest of Homer Plessy as he attempted to ride in a whites-only train car from New Orleans to Covington in 1892 led to the Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. That ruling established the constitutionality of separate but equal doctrine and ushered in the Jim Crow era. With the rights of African Americans severely limited in southern states, the Great Migration of African Americans from South to North began. This changed the gumbo of Treme radically. The pot lost a lot of its African American flavor and gained a distinct Sicilian makeup. Still, as Krauss opened, Treme, along with the back of the Central Business District, had a significant black population. That was important in the marketing strategy of the Krauss brothers.
Not all African Americans desired or could afford to just pull up roots and move away from New Orleans. Those who remained lived all across the city, some owning their own homes, others renting housing from whites. Public housing projects constructed during the Great Depression in the 1930s became available to black families after World War II, as the white families got back on their feet, moving into the newer neighborhoods of Mid-City and Lakeview and into the suburbs.
As Sicilians came in numbers to New Orleans in the 1880s and 1890s, they quickly filled up the French Quarter and downriver neighborhoods. When black families sold their homes in Treme, leaving town for good, the Sicilians gladly snapped them up. By the start of the twentieth century, the Italian community in New Orleans was well rooted in the Quarter and Treme (in the section of the neighborhood east of the Carondelet Canal). By 1915, the Italians had moved toward the lake to the point where they petitioned the archbishop to establish a new Catholic parish at the northern end of Canal Street. St. Anthony of Padua became the third Italian church in New Orleans, and the Mid-City neighborhood’s gumbo had a clear Italian flavor. Mid-City grew out on either side of Canal Street, from Greenwood Cemetery down to Broad Street, the northern boundary of Faubourg Treme. Light industry along the New Basin Canal and the west bank of Bayou St. John bracketed Mid-City, creating opportunities for the residents. Getting back to town to shop was easy, since Canal Street was just a short walk away.
The Lakeview neighborhood grew from both ends to the middle. The West End and Spanish Fort streetcar lines brought New Orleans out to the lakefront for day trips, as families did what they could to escape the summer heat. Homes and businesses popped up along the New Basin Canal throughout the early 1900s. In the 1920s, the Orleans Levee Board began extensive land reclamation projects that pushed the south bank of Lake Pontchartrain out and created new subdivisions. Numerous federal projects during the Great Depression brought road and infrastructure improvements to the area.
By World War II, Lakeview’s open land gave wartime industry and support a place. Higgins Industries landing craft and patrol boats were cranked out of factories in Lakeview, and the workers in those factories began to move closer to work instead of taking the long streetcar trip on the West End line. After the war, many men took advantage of the benefits of the G.I. Bill to start families in Lakeview.
Streetcars were on the decline after World War II, but the residents of Lakeview were able to get back to downtown via bus, riding down West End and Canal Boulevards to the cemeteries at the foot of Canal Street. From there, they connected to the Canal streetcar line to get to Krauss and the other stores.
Small communities existed outside the city limits for generations, but post–World War II expansion drew folks from the city to Jefferson and St. Bernard Parishes in numbers. School desegregation in the 1950s, coupled with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, created the white flight trend of the time. The early 1960s was the beginning of the suburban shopping mall, but it would be another decade before the trend was so rooted that older folks living in Metairie (Jefferson Parish) and Chalmette (St. Bernard Parish) felt like they didn’t have to go to Canal Street to do their shopping.
The Krauss brothers and their employees at 1201 Canal started cooking their own pot of gumbo in 1903. Their recipe changed only slightly in the ninety-four-year life of the store. It was all about taking care of New Orleans.
About the Author
New Orleans native Edward J. Branley is a former high school history teacher. He has written five books for Arcadia Publishing, including Legendary Locals of New Orleans and Images of America books New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line, Maison Blanche Department Store, and New Orleans Jazz. He is graduate of Brother Martin High School in New Orleans and the University of New Orleans. Branley is @NOLAHistoryGuy on Twitter.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting both Lisa and Tricia that day at the book launch. They are warm, funny, wicked smart, and talented.I would hang out with them anywhere, anytime. [They need to come West more often, however.]
Lisa Graves (left) and Tricia Cohen (right)
Revive your inner period cook and master the art of gode cookery with thirty-five recipes celebrating festivals throughout the year!
Fancy a leap back in time to the kitchens in the Middle Ages? Return to when cauldrons bubbled over hearths, whole oxen were roasted over spits. Common cooking ingredients included verjuice, barley, peafowl, frumenty, and elder flowers. You, too, can learn the art of gode cookery—or, at least, come close to it.
With gorgeous and whimsical hand-drawn illustrations from beginning to end, A Thyme and Place is both a cookbook and a history for foodies and history buffs alike. Cohen and Graves revive old original medieval recipes and reimagine and modify them to suit modern palates and tastes. Each recipe is tied directly to a specific calendar holiday and feast so you can learn to cook:
• Summer harvest wine with elder flower, apples, and pears for St. John’s Day (June 21st)
• Right-as-rain apple cake for St. Swithin’s Day (July 15th)
• Wee Matilda’s big pig fried pork balls with sage for Pig Face Day (September 14th)
• Roasted goose with fig glaze and bannock stuffing for Michaelmas (September 29th)
• Peasant duck ravioli and last of the harvest chutney for Martinmas (November 11th)
FRIED PORK BALLS WITH SAGE CREME
This dish was adapted from an original, circa 1390, recipe:
Sawge yfarcet. Take pork and seeþ it wel, and grinde it smal, and medle it wiþ ayren & brede ygrated. Do þerto powdour fort and safroun wiþ pynes & salt. Take & close litull balles in foiles of sawge; wete it with a batour of ayren & fry it, & serue it forth.
– Recipes from “Forme of Cury”
For the meatballs:
2 cups uncooked ground pork
1 large egg, beaten
7 tablespoons panko
1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground saffron
1 1⁄4 teaspoons salt
4 fresh sage leaves, finely cut; plus a dozen sage leaves, whole
For the tempura batter:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄2 cup seltzer water
Salt, to taste
Lard (can substitute canola oil)
12 whole sage leaves
For the sage creme:
2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3⁄4 cup mead
3⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream
For the meatballs: Mix meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mold the mixture to form meatballs. Parboil meatballs for 10 minutes. Place meatballs on paper towel to cool.
For the tempura batter: While meatballs are boiling, create the tempura batter by mixing together the flour, cornstarch, seltzer and salt to taste. Mix until smooth. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Melt a hunk of lard in a heavy pan. After the lard has heated over medium to medium-high heat, take two forks and toss the cooled meatballs into the tempura batter.
Turn the meatballs gently in the lard until the tempura is golden. It does not have to look perfect … as long as it tastes good. When the meatballs are finished, toss the whole sage leaves in the tempura batter and give them a quick fry in the hot lard.
For the sage creme: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy pan. Toss in the minced shallots and minced sage. After the shallots are soft, pour in the mead and stir. Pour in the whipping cream and stir. Boil down by half until thick, on medium-high heat.
Garnish the meatballs with the creme and a piece of crispy sage.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Zest (1 tablespoon) and juice of one lemon ( 1⁄4 cup)
Heat the olive oil in saute pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary to hot pan, cook until fragrant, then add the lemon zest (it smells sooo good).
Stir and add the chickpeas to mixture. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, spinach, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid is gone.
Remove from heat, add to a serving plate and finish with the cheddar and parsley.
1 1⁄2 pounds thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large sweet onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 mission figs, chopped (optional)
1⁄2 cup dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
1⁄2 cup apple-cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Drambuie or bourbon
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cover and cook for approximately 25 minutes. Check on the bacon with some frequency, giving in a stir each time.
After the bacon begins to crisp, remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Turn the heat off when the bacon is fully crisp. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Let the fat in the Dutch oven cool for a few minutes and then — hear us — save the stuff in a container for future cooking.
Leave all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Turn the heat back to medium. Add onions and garlic, scrapping up any delicious bacon bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until soft. After they are soft, add the figs.
Drop the heat to medium low and add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, honey, ginger, pepper and Drambuie. Cook for 10 minutes, just enough time for the mixture to start to get jammy.
Adjust the heat to medium for 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to medium low and add the bacon. Cook for 20 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally. Remove lid and cook for 5 more minutes. Add salt.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add mixture to food processor and chop to desired texture.
Tricia Cohen grew up in a house with two kitchens, surrounded by family, food, and love. In her adult life, she continues to share her love for food with the community as a hostess, gourmet home cook, and sous chef.
Lisa Graves is the author and illustrator of the series Women in History, as well as the illustrator of The Tudor Tutor. She is the creator of Historywitch.com, a site dedicated to illustrations of history’s most fascinating characters.
What made Saturday more exciting was that I finally got to meet Lisa Graves, who illustrated this book. I have worked with Lisa in the past on her History Witch coloring books, and it was just wicked awesome to chat and share a glass (or two) of champagne #bubbles! [And, for those of you who worry, I brought my handsome husband along, so there was no driving for me!]
Lisa’s illustrations highlight the stories and the quotations. It ties the whole book together in gorgeous muted watercolors. I love everything she does.
Lisa introduced me to Dr. Lois, and [disclaimer] I edited this book. [/disclaimer]. It has to have been one of my all-time favorite books to edit, so thank you Lisa and Dr. Lois for letting me be a part of this project.
Focusing on women over 70, including some centenarians, Dr. Lois photographed and interviewed women around the world. She collected their advice, reflections and memories, capturing it in Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom for future generations.
At the event, it was heartwarming to see and meet some of the women that were featured in the book. They all have led such interesting and fascinating lives. One can learn so much just by listening to their stories. The beauty of editing this, for me, was the deep connection and emotion that came from reading the stories and their quotations.
I must mention the Women’s City Club of Pasadena, where the launch was held. Built in 1905, the Blinn House is a cultural landmark, and on the National Register of Historic Places. Warm mahogany and oak, with wisteria motif throughout, including the gorgeous fireplace and leaded-glass accents, made this a warm and inviting place to relax and enjoy.
The food was spectacular as well. I’m not ashamed to admit to you I would have eaten the entire platter of grapes rolled in goat cheese and walnuts, if I could have. Delectable. They also served salmon crepes, endive with herb and cream cheese dollop, Greek chicken skewers with yogurt dip, and beef sliders, among other items. There were “book cover” cookies for dessert. What a great idea to remind you of the sweet time you had at the launch.
If you are looking for a book to have on the coffee table, to celebrate your mom, your grandmother, your sisters, or your daughters, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. Keep one, give one as a gift. You can find it to purchase at the following locations.
With yet another book arriving in the mailbox this week, I was thinking … What are your indispensable “go-to” books for your craft? There are certain books I always have open bookmarked to certain pages, or they fall open to the proper page since I have opened them enough that the binding is broken to that spot. [It makes me sad, as a bibliophile, when that happens … but, that’s a different blog post ♥].
The latest addition to the bookshelf for me is that little book on the top of the stack, Sarah Harrison Smith’s The Fact Checker’s Bible — A Guide to Getting it Right.
Now you are wondering, why these books? Why are they my essentials? Here is why.
Einsohn’s book is a perfect companion to The Chicago Manual of Style, for me. It emphasizes the practical, how-to be a real-life copyeditor: punctuation, grammar issues, reference books, and on-screen editing; it is 550 pages of valuable knowledge. It gives you exercises to keep your editor’s red pen sharp. My copy is highlighted and marked up on various segments that I keep going back to on a regular basis.
…[A] copyeditor must read the document letter by letter, word by word, with excruciating care and attentiveness. In many ways, being a copyeditor is like sitting for an English exam that never ends: At any moment, your knowledge of spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, syntax, and diction is being tested.
Required for journalism students and essential in print journalism (except for The New York Times which has its own stylebook in place), AP Stylebook provides consistent guidelines for content continuity from many writers, editors, and publishers working together. Grammar, punctuation, and language usage are all covered, including consistency, clarity, accuracy and brevity.
Do you ever find yourself using the same phrase over and over again to describe what your character is feeling? This book by Angela Ackerman will help you find physical, internal and mental cues for all the emotions you might need in your writing. It also helps me find the right word or phrase to help vary your manuscript and make a stronger statement, to connect with your reader.
For example, Impatience.
Clicking one’s fingernails against a table
Narrowing eyes, a look of intense focus that can be mistaken for anger
A sharp tone, using as few words as possible to answer
Attention that snaps toward small sounds or movement
Complaining to others or mumbling under one’s breath: “Where is he?” or “What is taking so long?”
Fussing with one’s appearance (brushing lint from a sleeve, applying lip gloss)
This is my latest acquisition for the bookshelf. Smith used to be a fact-checker for the New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine, and is now teaching at John Hopkins University. This is an essential guide to the neglected task of checking facts, no matter what the source. In this day and age of information overload, we need to be able to determine the reliability of what we read. In the back is a helpful list of resources in subjects ranging from wine to films.
David Foster Wallace said in his essay Democracy, English and the Wars over Usage, “Garner’s dictionary is extremely good…its format… includes entries on individual words and phrases and expostulative small-cap MINI-ESSAYS.But the really distinctive and ingenious features of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage involve issues of rhetoric and ideology and style.”
For my editing purposes, it covers usage, pronunciation, and style: troublesome words and phrases— imply vs. infer; word entries that clarify two terms (site, sight); the 9-page Punctuation, from Apostrophe to Virgule — my favorite section, Punctuation; Sesquipedality (the use of big words); and the “Language Change Index“— which measures “how widely accepted various linguistic innovations have become.”
If you are a writer or an editor, you need this book. Either the physical copy, or subscribe to their online service. [Or do both, like I do!]. CMOS online has answered so many questions about rules. Yes, rules. They exist,and CMOS is a wonderful source for learning new rules.
It keeps up-to-date on the latest advances. The sixteenth edition includes publishing electronic publications, web-based content and e-books. I can’t live without their Hyphenation Table, and the updated Unicode numbers for special characters.
I’d like to welcome my friend Laura K Cowan to the BookDoctor blog, as our guest poster for the day. Laura and I met on Facebook in a group for writers. She, being the writer, and I, being the editor. We collaborated on the Shades of Fear anthology (which I’m sure you’ve heard me type about once or twice here). Her story, A Testament of Finer Things has such vivid imagery, you feel like you are right there with the family as the hurricaine bears down on them, and his desire to throw himself into the sea to pay for his forefathers’ sins. But, enough about that… More about Laura. She is an amazing writer of magical realism, speculative fiction, and about the connection between the natural and the spirit worlds. I am honored to call her my friend, and am excited for you all to read her newest, Music of Sacred Lakes.
Without further ado… Laura K Cowan, on Fear & Spirit…
Fear and spirit. At first they seem to be connected in only the usual ways: courage, the human spirit. Sure, we all understand that. But if you really unpack this subject, it’s deep. Down the rabbit hole deep. As I have been writing a story on facing fear for the Shades of Fear anthology, edited by the wonderful Dara Rochlin, and Music of Sacred Lakes [ http://www.amazon.com/Music-Sacred-Lakes-Laura-Cowan/dp/1494711427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389887932&sr=8-1&keywords=music+of+sacred+lakes ] , my new novel about a young man helped back to a discovery of his place of belonging in the world through the spirit of a girl he killed, I’ve run into this intersection of fear and spirit repeatedly. And it’s knocked me over the head a bit. Even changed my worldview and the way I approach faith and science. Yeah. That kind of deep. Want to jump down the rabbit hole with me?
Shades of Fear is a collection of stories of all genres about people facing their fears, from memoirs to my magical realism-flavored story about a boy facing down a hurricane threatening to swallow his already flooded post-apocalyptic New York City. He is fighting the urge to throw himself into the sea, which he imagines as thrashing mermaids and grasping octopi, to pay for the sins of his forefathers, who were responsible for the earth changes that have wrought this havoc on his city. He is afraid: the half-submerged buildings threaten to collapse as his family waits to get the signal from his father if they will wait it out, or if this time they will run. This seems to be part of a theme that is recurring in my work and life lately. In the face of fear, do you stand? Or do you run? And the other stories in this anthology examine similar questions. But the answer is not always to stand your ground, as many of us have been taught. In fact, sometimes I have stood too long in the face of abuse, or impossible circumstances, and only felt I escaped a situation by the narrowest of margins. Life is like that, isn’t it? No instruction manual. And it’s not always about the strength of the human spirit to withstand circumstances. So fear is fear, but maybe the spirit side of this equation goes a little deeper than the human spirit itself.
In Music of Sacred Lakes [ http://www.amazon.com/Music-Sacred-Lakes-Laura-Cowan/dp/1494711427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389887932&sr=8-1&keywords=music+of+sacred+lakes ], the protagonist Peter Sanskevicz feels he doesn’t belong anywhere, and can’t accept the sixth-generation family farm he feels was unwittingly stolen from the Odawa Native Americans who controlled the land before it was opened to settlement. But he can’t keep serving as a gardener and garbage man as he has since leaving home. As he tries to decide what happened to his life–does he leave his beautiful Lake Michigan and head south, or should he stand and face the fate his father is handing down to him, being the unwanted son of an unwanted son stuck propping up the family farm?–he accidentally kills a girl in a distracted driving accident. Seeing he is devastated and near suicide, his friend takes him to his uncle, a pipe carrier of the Odawa tribe, who tells him he has lost his connection with the land and must live by the shores Lake Michigan until the lake speaks to him. Without any other options, Peter goes, and finds himself pursued through his waking and sleeping hours by strange sounds and images, and the spirit of the dead girl, who rises out of the lake like an apparition and seems to be trying to help him. He falls in love with two very different girls and makes a mess, he begins to get his life together, and in the end, he finds an inner silence he has never known before. It is then that he hears what the lake has to say to him. A message of peace, of belonging, of grace. In the end, Peter makes a different decision than anyone anticipated. He doesn’t stand, and he doesn’t run. This novel took me an entire year of research–physics, mysticism, Native American history and culture and spirituality, wisdom traditions and what they have to say about connectedness, belonging–and in the end, I realized one very important thing. Everything is connected. Absolutely everything in the universe. And this connectedness–of matter in the universe, of the energy behind all things, of the God-breathed spirit of life (the Odawa call it the manidoog) that flows through all the manifestations of creation in the world–it is the answer to this question of fear and spirit. Do you stand or do you run?
The answer? Wrong question. This is not just about your spirit. This is about spirit. The spirit of everything. The answer is: You’re always home. Because if everything is connected (read Music of Sacred Lakes [ http://www.amazon.com/Music-Sacred-Lakes-Laura-Cowan/dp/1494711427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389887932&sr=8-1&keywords=music+of+sacred+lakes ] to get the cliffs notes version on this epiphany if you don’t want to study Sufi mystics and theoretical physics for a year) and if you belong in this world, then you can run, you can stand, you can walk your path. But you’ll always be walking with the spirit of the world. You’ll always be home. So do what you came here to do, walk where you need to to discover what that thing is. And go in grace. I know, right? Not what I expected when I started writing, either. Life is like that. So is spirit.
Laura K. Cowan, The Dreaming Novelist, writes imaginative novels that explore the possibilities of the human condition through the connections between the spiritual and natural worlds. Her debut novel The Little Seer spent its launch week at #2 and #5 on the Kindle Bestseller List for free titles in Christian Suspense and Occult/Supernatural, and was hailed by reviewers and readers as “riveting,” “moving and lyrical.” Laura’s second novel, a redemptive ghost story titled Music of Sacred Lakes, and her first short story collection, The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, will be available soon. Connect with Laura on her website LauraKCowan.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.
After much reluctance, serial killer Malcolm Penn from CH Kelly’s novel A Shadow Over Vegas has acquiesced to my request for an interview. I tracked him down as he was getting ready to leave Las Vegas for New Orleans.
Dara Rochlin: Thanks for joining me today, Malcolm. Your book is increasing in popularity and now you have a blog that is gaining readership, how do you feel about all of this?
Malcolm Penn: Uncertain would best describe my current emotional state. For a person with my tastes, obscurity is the safest road. My author is a little hurt as my blog has far outpaced his in popularity.
Dara: Does the attention worry you?
Malcolm: I am amused when the experts suggest those of my persuasion have no feelings. I feel anger, frustration, excitement and even happiness. There are a few emotions I do not quite have a clear understanding of. Worry would be one of those.
Dara: What other emotions do you lack?
Malcolm: Empathy for one, seems like a rather useless emotion. Although I have researched them, conscience and soul are very difficult concepts for me to grasp. I know I am guilty of acts that blatantly go against the laws of the land, yet, how is guilt an emotion?
Dara: Do you ever fear getting caught?
Malcolm: That is between me and my author. He played with the idea of posting my picture on his website and after we had a short meeting he reconsidered.
Dara: How long do you think you will continue your blog?
Malcolm: I do not really have a specific plan. As long as interested parties continue to keep my popularity ahead of my author’s. I enjoy his suffering, but then I do cherish others’ pain.
Dara: Do you have any regrets?
Malcolm: I believe my actions in the past have led me to where I am now. My present state is quite acceptable to me.
Dara: Speaking of the past, was there something that made you the way you are?
Malcolm: Dara, everyone is a product of their past experiences. Whether they happened in childhood or later on in life, a trauma alters us.
Dara: I understand that Malcolm, but we have all heard the awful things that serial killers experienced when they were children. Surely you had some similar tragedy when you were young.
Malcolm: That time of my life is not something I feel the need to share with others.
Dara: Come on Malcolm. Your readers want to know, your fans want to know.
Malcolm: Dara I know where you live. Perhaps I should take a trip to sunny California, I always have enjoyed the Pacific Ocean!
Dara: Thank you Malcolm for your thoughts today. For those of you who like Malcolm’s character read A Shadow Over Vegas, available in paperback on Amazon and to download in most formats at Smashwords. You can also find his blog at www.chkelly.com under Mal’s blog.
Malcolm: You are welcome, Dara, it has been a pleasure.
For Hanukkah 2013, my family bought me the new Kindle Paperwhite. I have a Sony e-reader that I love, but wanted an updated reader to be able to take advantage of the variety of books available on Kindle, as well as check out the formatting for the book editing I’m doing.
I must say up front, that I am a voracious reader and read so much that I spend a lot of time at my local public library (let’s hear it for public libraries!) because if I bought EVERY book I wanted to read, from brick and mortar stores (Barnes & Noble) or on Amazon, I’d be very broke.
The first book I bought on my Kindle Paperwhite was Divergent by Veronica Roth. I loved the Hunger Games Trilogy, and it had a great rating from many people, so I decided to read it first. I read it in a day and a half. I really liked the strength of the female protagonist, Tris. The setting of dystopian Chicago, I felt wasn’t used to its full advantage, but perhaps because it was only the first book in the trilogy, it will be used more going forward.
Taking advantage of Cyber Monday with the Amazon sale, I had a great time buying books. I picked up: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The first five books in the Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin. and the Indie Author Survival Guide (Guest blogged earlier by my friend Susan Kaye Quinn).
Gone Girl was a great read the first half of the book. [spoiler alert] The second half, I must admit I got bored quickly. So, she’s a psychopath, a master manipulator. So is Nick, her husband. I’d usually say I’m interested in seeing the movie version, which is coming out later this year with Ben Affleck as Nick and Rosamund Pike as Amy, but it is not calling my name. I don’t see them as the characters. I hear Flynn is rewriting the ending for the movie. Guess we will wait and see.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, was a phenomenal read. I couldn’t put it down. Neil Gaiman just gets it. The story was compelling, interesting both visually in my mind and on the page. He transports you almost from page one into his world and doesn’t let you go. I highly recommend this book! Mystery, memory, bewitching. His first adult novel since Anasi Boys. Definitely worth your time.
Game of Thrones, I have tried to read three times. I get a few paragraphs in, and then I find something else to do. I guess I’m not in the mood for it right now, but for the price it was at, I felt I had to have it, to see what all the hoopla (show and books) were about. It will come. Just not now. Keep watching this space for the review, when it happens.
Suggestions for good books to read on your kindle are always welcomed. Send them to me!