Monday, February 20, 2012

On Being the Only Illiterate at a Literacy Event and Headin' to a "Weddin'"!

Okay, I'm not totally illiterate except when it comes to computers and other basic forms of technology. I did get a 'smart phone' at one point, but had to return it and get a 'dumb phone'. Did you know you can hit the wrong button on one of those things and wind up with two round trip tickets to Sweden? It is possible.

THE EVENT: Getting back to Hilton Head for Cooks & Books was a treat. Seeing friends, great food, rubbing elbows with writers I admire and good entertainment. The fact that the event drew a huge crowd (I couldn't guess a number) was also a tremendous ego boost for one who has been off book tour for awhile. I assume they all came because I was going to be there. All of the other writers assume the same thing, so I'm not an aberration. As far as illiteracy goes, I was never able to get my computer to hook into my email site; however, I am proud to say no one else (those not illiterate) could get it to accomplish that task either. The good part was that I arrived home safe, with no tickets from the South Carolina Highway Patrol and no car trouble. What more could I ask for? (see the following...).

Upon being able to get back to my cyber contacts, I found that I have been invited to a "weddin'". I can't tell you where because the town could not handle the crowd, and they asked me not to spread the word. Suffice to say, it promises to be a wild time on the bayou. Whether the creek can be called a bayou, I'm not sure, but I like the image of a bayou better than a creek. The title on the invitation is: Waterhole Branch Weddin' to be held down by the whiskey bottle fence. Miss Manners will not be consulted. No major production. Put on your camos or your jeans or your Mardi Gras colors and come on over. NO-ZERO-NADA GIFTS!

Can you imagine a better "weddin'"? Of course it's an eight hour drive to and fro, but that's all right. Can miles take the place of friends? Not on my watch!

I know this is a short post, but I have to go see if I can scrounge up some camos. Jeans - normal jeans - will be passé at this event. And, I can "guaRUNtee" there will be stories to tell and, hopefully pictures to show when I get back.

Let me hear from you, so I can validate my continuing to write these things.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Swamp People

Well, a week has passed without incident. No arrests, no muggings, no romantic assignations, haven't heard from the IRS, and the heating system and fireplace are keeping me warm. Did do one thing of note: went line-dancing last night and learned that I am directionally challenged. I have no idea why those people couldn't keep up with me. They kept miscounting and turning in the wrong direction, which caused no small amount of injury.

Am off to Hilton Head today for the South Carolina Literacy Council. Pretty upscale event called "Cooks and Books". Unlike most charity events, they are footing the bill. Staying at the Westin Resort, a seventy-five dollar a head reception and the event on Sunday where the island's top chefs will have samples of food and seven other authors and myself will sign books. Sounds like fun and will give me a chance to see old friends like "Fast" Eddie and Chaz, the framer, and Deb, the beautiful.

The new Cole Sturtevant/Carsyn Thoreau novel is progressing. Three chapters done this week; however, a lot of time spent in research on the lowcountry and antebellum mansions. I feel musty and historical. I just wish I knew the motive for the crime - if there was a crime - and who did it. It's interesting for an author to be as much in the dark as the reader, but that's what makes it stimulating. Can't outline; it would be like writing a research paper. I will have to take a break from the new book on the fourteenth, which is the date my publisher says I will be sent the new novel, A Season for Killing to be proofed. My favorite thing.

Things I never thought I'd do: (Should this be a regular part of my posts? Let me know) I never thought I would become addicted to a TV series (of course there's always Law & Order because sometimes it's on every channel); however while scrolling through what was available during one of my breaks, I happened upon a series on The History Channel called "Swamp People". Having written a book, Louisiana Burn, set in Cajun country and having spent a lot of time in the area, I couldn't resist checking it out. The people, their challenges, the danger they face and the beauty are mesmerizing. I could not create these characters if I tried and they're not scripted. The people are real - I've met a bunch of them - and they probably know more of life than I will ever know. And they are funny. One would have to have a sense of humor when hunting alligators for a living.

I know this is a rather fractured post, but my time is limited. Have to get on the road. Like the swamp people say: Ain' no choice. Got to get out de're and do it again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Very Warm Welcome!

I'm Carl T. Smith, an author (published) and pursuer of other wildly "secure" careers. I am now blogging. We'll see how that works out. I must be off to a good start if you're reading this. Don't stop! See it to the end; it won't take much time out of your life. I promise to keep this blog site active, with true stories (The Night I Met Joe Namath, Pat Conroy Hosts a Book Signing), photos, and thoughts that may be bizarre at times, reviews I receive and those I write about others, work and name-dropping. Of course you may have already figured that one out by the story headings.

I was born in Chicago - do I really need to add the state? - but left the Midwest when I was two - not on my own - to move south to Virginia. I am a southerner, although I am on my birth state list as an "Illinois Author". That may have been because of a long layover at O'Hare. I have heard some authors from far adn wide have made the state list for that very reason. I matriculated (I love that word) with a BFA degree from what was then The Richmond Professional Institute of The College of William and Mary (Now VCU). It was the arts division. It was a great creative school in a downtown area as energetic as "The Village" of the thirties and "The Left Bank" in Paris in the twenties.

After years in music as a singer (believe me, in all genres: combos, big bands, progressive jazz vocal quartets, doo-wop, rock and roll and country), at the behest of my best college bud, Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, etc.), I turned to writing. He suggested it was a good thing to do if one had run out of options, didn't want to work, were lazy and could fail and still maintain some measure of respect. "I'm a writer," you say. "Oh," the receiver says with raised eyebrows.

Strangely, I got a book published (not my first, they were still in the desk drawer) Nothin' Left to Lose. Since the publisher went bankrupt the day the book released (that's another story), despite excellent reviews in "Publisher's Weekly" and "Foreword", the writing career had suffered a definite setback. However, without options, not wanting to work, lazy and though I hadn't yet begun to consider myself a failure (I was getting respect), I decided to marshal on. I made up my mind to write a suspense novel, and, since my neighbor on Fripp Island in South Carolina had been to prison, I was gifted with the most difficult task in writing: an idea.

I wrote Lowcountry Boil, a suspense novel that introduced the iconic character Sam Larkin, luckily iconic to both men and women. After 46 rejections (another story) it was published. It was a writer's dream; it sold. It was optioned for film four times. I was on my way, or so I thought. (another story) Then came the sequels: Louisiana Burn and Carolina Fire. A new one, A Season for Killing, is on the way (1st of March). It introduces two new characters - will they become iconic? - Detectives Cole Sturtevant and Carsyn Thoreau. Yes, I spelled her name correctly. Got it off a vanity place on a Corvette. Her hair was auburn...

This opening blog post is an introduction to me, what I write, mr irreverence, and a life that has been a gift in so many ways. By medical community standards, I should have been (like Dennis Hopper said) dead a hundred times, but, hey, what about Mick Jagger, Mickey Rourke, George Jones and Willie Nelson? Maybe we all drank from the same fountain somewhere along the way!

I hope I'll see you next time (if I don't I'll hate you) and, above all, thanks for humoring me. I'll be devastated if you don't show up again.