A promise is a promise when it comes to letting you in on Annalaura’s decision.  I’m sure the readers of Page from a Tennessee Journal will recall that Annalaura left everyone  in a bit of a cliff-hanger.  (Boy, have I caught heat for that!) Remember the events?

Husband John Welles whisked off our heroine just hours after she gave birth to white Alexander McNaughton’s baby, Dolly.  John put both mother and daughter in a train car heading north.  Annalaura sat patiently while John apologized for the abuse he’d heaped upon her.  She told her husband nothing of the promise she’d made to Alexander–live with him in the home the man shared with wife, Eula Mae.  Instead, she listened as John gave her his solemn promise.  He would love not only Annalaura, but the half-white child she’d just delivered as his own.  All Annalaura had to do was choose where to get off that train.  Travel to the final destination–Chicago–and the high probability that Alexander McNaughton would find his lady love in that city’s black south-side neighborhood, or chose a town too small to catch Alexander’s notice.

Deep stuff, right?  What did Annalaura decide?  Here’s your hint.  Chapter One, page one, second paragraph:

This was the middle of April and the storm had sneaked up on them three days ago.  Took all six streets of Brugestown by surprise  Even her Polish, Italian, and Belgian neighbors–that is, those who didn’t mind speaking to colored–grumbled that April snow was a bad thing. Annalaura shrugged against the chill as she spotted the up-flag on her mailbox.  The cold stung her lips and rushed into her throat.  She shivered again.  April snow in Illinois a bad thing?  Not easy for sure.  Yes, it might mean a little delay in putting in the pole beans, green onions, and lettuce, but a hard ground in the middle of spring didn’t really matter all that much in Brugestown unless you were a farmer.  The closest big-sized cornfields were a good five miles away.  But back in Tennessee, a late freeze like this one could spoil…There it was again.  Tennessee.

Oh, all right.  Here’s another tidbit from page two–last paragraph.

Annalaura stepped onto her porch and shuffled the flyer to the bottom.  Now an ad from the grocery store.  A big loaf of bread at the A&P cost five cents.  Five cents?  Lord, have mercy.  Why, back in Tennessee, she’d made do with just a scant cup of flour and a pinch of baking powder to make her bread–and that’d been for the five of them.  Why…There it was again.  Tennessee.  Sometimes, the scent of her buttermilk biscuits conjured up the gassy smell of cows offering their teats for the milking and pitched her head-first into Tennessee–and that barn.  Lord, the memories were batting her mind good this day.



Yes, I know.  It’s been a long time in coming.  If I could carry a tune, I’d tell Etta James to move over and give me the floor for at least two choruses of At Last.

The saga begun five years ago in Page from a Tennessee Journal, continues on in A Waltz in Tennessee, .

You readers have been phenomenal!  Page has been out in publication for over five years and the tale of Annalaura Welles, her ex-sharecropper husband, the white farmer who loves her, and Alexander McNaughton’s long suffering wife, Eula Mae, continues.

I’ve been bombarded with questions about Annalaura.  Which city did she choose–Chicago where her white lover could easily discover her whereabouts, or some small out-of-the way place in Illinois?  Would you like a hint?

Wild horses couldn’t drag the truth out of me.  Well, maybe a horse with a lame leg.  Stay tuned.  In a day or two I will publish a hint about Annalaura’s decision.  In the meantime, hang on to this thought.

A WALTZ in TENNESSEE will be released in June 2015 on Amazon (the same place where you got Page from a Tennessee Journal.

Buffalo Soldier Streat0006Waltz Front Cover

No, this is not original to me. The question was asked on Black Authors Showcase. The writer seemed to think yes, but I’ve seen no official feedback.
For my part: yes. In my first novel, Page from a Tennessee Journal, not only did I write from a White perspective, I did it from the perspective of a southern White male night-rider (sometimes known as the Ku Klux Klan). That was fun.
In my follow-up novel (coming in Spring 2015), A Waltz in Tennessee, I’ve slipped into the persona of a second white male–this one not nearly so liberal as my night rider. Am I being presumptuous?

As a San Franciscan from the long ago, I’m delighted with our third World Series Championship. Just can’t help wondering–which would feel better? Winning #3 or winning that Pulitzer?
Yes, yes, I know. I was edged out with my first two novels but number three–A Waltz in Tennessee–is on the horizon. Can a Pulitzer be THAT far behind?

High Couture in France


Bridge at Avignon 2


I told you I went shopping. Here’s the sweater I’m wearing as I cruise on the Rhone river. Yes, I got it in Paris. The bridge behind me is at Avignon. Built a long time ago. Most of it was lost in floods through the centuries. Very famous.

By now, the world knows of my efforts to complete my interrupted 2011 journey to launch my second novel, Paris Noire. Three years ago, I’d made big plans to give Paris Noire the publicity I felt it deserved. With the help of my cousin, I’d arranged to attend one of her legendary soirees with the famed African-American ex-pat, Patricia LaPlante-Collins. She’d agreed to host me and my friend–the man who inspired Paris Noire–at one of her events attended by the Parisian literati, artist, and other creative types. But, again as the world knows, that trip fell to the fates of a medical mishap.
It shouldn’t take much to imagine my excitement when, after three years, I finally stepped off that plane two weeks ago, Patricia had agreed to meet me and my cousin for a dinner that very night at a Paris restaurant. In the weeks prior to the trip, I had plan my attire down to the soles of my shoes. All had to be in order for this important dinner. Too bad, my airline hadn’t been informed.
As I stood at the baggage carousel in Orly airport looking forlornly at the steel, gray metal plates go round and round with nothing on them, my eyes got weepy. A kind French person took me over the Lost Baggage Department. And there my sad, sad, saga began.
Three days later–an hour and a half before I left Paris for the south of France, my luggage turned up. That’s right. No luggage, no shoes with polished sols, no clothes–I won’t tell you what intimate article I had to borrow from my distressed cousin–no nothing! I went to dinner in my airplane clothes. Did I mention I’d been in transit 18 hours by the time I arrived in Paris.
I skulked behind every Parisian lamp post, hid out behind every old church I could find, ducked behind crowds of Parisians–anything to hide my shabby attire. But to no avail. Cousin and I arrived at The Café St. Victoire near Le Marais. And there she was–Patricia LaPlante-Collins. She was so gracious. Didn’t even mention that I looked like a crumbled up mess. The woman was friendly and warm. The meal was delicious, the wine sumptuous, and the company beyond compare. Vive la France!

Dinner with Patricia Paris 2014Paris! I did it! Three years to the day of my cancelled 2011 trip, I finally made my way to Paris to do justice to my second novel, Paris Noire. What a magical evening!

I met with Patricia Collins-LaPlante, the wonderful American ex-pat who lives in Paris and hosts spectacular soirees every Sunday. You know of the soirees of old where wealthy Parisiennes hosted the literati and artistic types in their grand salons. Well, Patricia does the 2014 version..
In 2011, she’d offered to host me and my French friend to celebrate the launch of Paris Noire. Unfortunately, my leg had other plans and that venture was aborted. But, never fear, I got my second chance. No, I wasn’t hosted at one of her soirees–our schedules did not mesh–but I enjoyed a wonderful under a starry Paris sky. C’est si bon.
Anyone heading to Paris, I highly recommend attending one of Patricia’s Sunday evening soirees. I’ll give you more details later. For now, just know that I am delighted. My dream finally came true!