Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Do You Have Katrina Fatigue?

You may have heard the term “Katrina Fatigue.” Fatigue is a term used by the media to explain the indifference that creeps into the minds of the public when it is barraged with images, sound bytes, and sensationalist reporting that follows a catastrophe or prominent news event. You may have felt recurring Katrina fatigue as the one-year anniversary of the killer storm approached this week. If you’ve read my blog, you may have seen my on-location writing and photos from my trip to New Orleans this summer. But as I’ve watched the media coverage leading to the one-year anniversary of the storm’s landing, I’m haunted again at what happened to this glorious city.

Katrina Fatigue means something entirely different to those who live in the areas affected by Katrina. After a year of mourning, denial, and anger, there still isn’t resolution or acceptance for many Katrina victims. Katrina Fatigue hits them every day when they’re fighting with their insurance company over losses, hammering shingles and laying flooring, waiting for an “as is” sale on their water-ravaged house, listening to the occupants in the FEMA trailer next to them fighting over a drug deal and hoping they don’t pull out guns because those aluminum walls don’t stop bullets. While lights in the French Quarter are shining again, the shadow of Katrina is everywhere.

Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” spotlights the devastation of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward, a cramped section of old, wood-frame houses, occupied primarily by working-class blacks whose heritage in the city goes back generations. Many of the houses in the Ninth Ward have been scoured up and reoccupied, but whole neighborhoods were dozed and are being rebuilt. The orange search and rescue signs painted on the fronts of the homes remain visible, like graffiti tributes to survival. Habitat for Humanity has a rebuilding project going in a Ninth Ward neighborhood called Musician’s Village. The homes are going up two and three at a time, but they’re built from volunteer labor by people of all color from around the world.

The often conspiratorialized 17th Street Levee break is blamed for much of the flooding that hit New Orleans, but east of that Levee is St. Bernard Parish, where that levee break just as hard. St. Bernard Parish, and other middle and upper class areas were also destroyed by hurricane winds, storm surge, or levee break flooding. Like those chronicled by Spike Lee, these were working class people, too; second and third generation New Orleans natives who’d saved and saved to buy a dream house in the suburbs. These residents still battle Katrina fatigue and many will never again occupy their dream home or get the insurance money to rebuild.

Moving east, we traveled to Mississippi, stopping in Pass Christian, the coastal hamlet which got the full fury of Katrina on August 29, 2005. Residents of Pass Christian and other devastated areas along the Mississippi coast are the forgotten cousins of Katrina’s victims. Even New Orleans residents expressed concern and great compassion when we told them we were headed out to Pass Christian. We visited with several couples in Pass Christian whose homes my daughter worked on in a service mission last April during her college spring break. Their homes are nearly rebuilt, but the reconstructing of their lives is far from over.

Katrina Fatigue is an easy term to use when we’re sitting in our air conditioned homes, drinking our designer water, and wearing new clothes from a pre-season rack at Macys. News fatigue hits from over-exposure and sensationalized media coverage. It focuses on incidents, rather than issues; personalities rather than persons, and victims, rather than victors. Katrina Fatigue is a cop-out term for over-stimulated and under-involved people. If you’re reading this, you are probably not one of them.

You can view more photos from my trip through the Gulf Coast in my website's photo gallery.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Experiments in viral marketing: bookstyle

I am participating in a blogging experiment hosted at dearauthor.com. To enter the contest, put up this blurb, image, and trackback and you are entered to win the following prize package.

  • $200 Amazon gift certificate
  • Signed copy of Slave to Sensation
  • New Zealand goodies chosen by Singh
  • ARC of Christine Feehan's October 31 release: Conspiracy Game

You can read about the experiment here and you can download the code that you need to participate here.

Nalini Singh
Berkley / September 2006

Welcome to a future where emotion is a crime and powers of the mind clash brutally against those of the heart.

Sascha Duncan is one of the Psy, a psychic race that has cut off its emotions in an effort to prevent murderous insanity. Those who feel are punished by having their brains wiped clean, their personalities and memories destroyed.

Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, a shapeshifter who craves sensation, lives for touch. When their separate worlds collide in the serial murders of Changeling women, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities…or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

Read an excerpt here.

Nalini is one of my author sisters at the Knight Agency, and SLAVE TO SENSATION was the first book my agent, Nephele Tempest sold. See this post for more.

Monday, August 21, 2006

My short story took first prize at Backspace

The guessing game is over at Backspace. The winners of Short Story Contest #15 have been called out and sorted. I'm thrilled that my short story SKETCHES took first place.

Do you write stories with soundtracks playing in your mind? I do, and did with SKETCHES. Music is a huge motivator in my life and there are songs I've always thought would play out to amazing stories. "Me and Bobby McGee," by Kris Kristopherson, is one of them. I think the longing for a simple life and a steady love reach into the psyche of the common soul. I was in junior high when Janis Joplin belted this song in my bedroom for the first time and I've been haunted by it since.

The song opens with, "Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin' for a train, feeling near as faded as my jeans. Bobby thumbed a diesel down, right before it rained, took us all the way to New Orleans." That song played unrelentingly in my mind while I watched rain fall every single day we were in New Orleans last month. I began writing the story while on the road from New Orleans to North Carolina. Every little town we passed had a Waffle House. Every Waffle House had a diesel truck in the parking lot. Rather than telling a story of the past with the MC and his girl Bobby, I made it a story for today with yesterday in the rearview mirror. I named the MC Kris as a tribute to the balladmaster himself.

This is what EJ Knapp said about SKETCHES: "Exquisite story, exquisitely written. The pace, the tension, the description. Connected to, yet never dependent on, a long ago tune, one possible future beheld, another unfolding, damn but you made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, brought goosebumbs to my arms. An absolutely beautiful piece of work."

I have, in fact, fallen in love with the MC and the broken girl. I just might keep this trip to California going for several thousand miles.

If you're a member of Backspace, you can read SKETCHES in Short Story Contest #15. If you're not a member, you can join here , or you'll have to wait until it's in print elsewhere. I'll be sure to let you know when and where.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

MySpace is YourSpace

As if a blog and a website were not enough, I have set up camp in the biggest circus in cyberspace. If you're a denizen of MySpace, why don't you stroll on over to my tent. You'll find me in the Arts & Literature alley: Carolyn's MySpace Place.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tank Turns Two

Take a look at Tank, my seriously cute Jack Russell Terrier who turned two today. His daddy is Quest of JRS, a grand champion in Ireland and a Purina Dog Show challenger, but his mommy's the one with the real heart. She's April, the namesake of of Ape Pen Publishing.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Stories for Sale: $2 each

I created Ovations to celebrate the unfinished script of life and offer applause to those who live it. Today I have two stories in one. I belong to an online writer's group called Backspace. We are a community of kindred spirits, some having published more than 70 books and some--like me--still working toward the first book sale. On Tuesday, one of our resident writers revealed a crisis in his life, his transparency touched my heart and compelled me to respond. His name is EJ Knapp and I'd like you to read his story for yourself in his blog.

The second part of this story is how EJ's need galvanized our writer's community to help. He simply asked if there were any writers who could "donate" a short story or piece of prose that he could post on his website and "sell" for two dollars. The outpouring of support from our community of writers provided EJ with more than enough stories to sell. Reading the notes of support for EJ has filled my heart with respect, admiration, and total joy for each author who responded. I could list each author here, but truly the best way I can thank them is to ask each of you to visit EJ's blog and buy a story.

Did I submit a story? You betcha. I sent EJ a story called EXPERIENCED ONLY NEED APPLY. It's not posted just yet, but bookmark EJ's blog and check back. I'd love to hear what you think.