Saints and Sinners Opening Day

Expections for the 9th annual Saints and Sinners
Literary Festival were running as high as the mighty Mississippi on Friday.
But, as always, organizers Paul Willis and Amie Evans put together a stellar
lineup of Master Classes, panels and readings that included new faces, bona
fide legends and old favorites.

We attended Aaron Hamburger’s wonderful “Let’s Talk About
Sex … How to Use Eroticism Effectively in Prose,” and found his take on the
subject to be as fun as it was useful. Just because we’ve been writing erotica
for a long time doesn’t mean we can’t learn something new. But there were also
classes from Felice Picano (“Memoir Becomes History/History Becomes Memoir”),
Jess Wells (“Building Credible Wrolds/Making Setting Work for Your Story”), Jen
Violo (“A Return to Joy—Remembering Why You Love to Write”) and Michael Thomas
Ford (“I Bet Stephen King Never Feels Like This—Practical Strategies for the
Writing Life”) among others.

After a change of clothes, it was on to the opening party,
Glitter With The Literati, held this year at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre on
St. Peter Street. Le Petit Theatre is the oldest continuously running community
theatre operated in the same location in the entire country, and you
could—literally—feel the ghosts in the theatre. A stop on the Haunted New
Orleans tour, it’s home to no less than 11 spirits. Led by volunteer
extraordinare Mark Drake, we walked through a cold spot and felt unknown
pressures from unseen presences. All in all, a truly chilling experience.

But the drinks and conversation in the courtyard warmed us
up again. We schmoozed, boozed and cruised with old friends and met some
terrific first-time attendees before calling it a night. Well … we didn’t call
it a night, exactly. We shifted the party to Lafitte’s In Exile and some other
venues before finally ending the day. And it’s up early this morning for
breakfast at the Clover Grill and then on to panels and readings today. So many
choices: “Spit and Polish: A Guide to Self-Editing,” “Beyond Twilight: Writing
for the Young Adult Market,” “Out And About: Writing About the Personal.” But I
have no choice at 4 p.m. as I’m moderating “If I Could Turn Back Time,” a panel
on historical fiction with Peter Dube, Jess Wells, Felice Picano and Bett
Norris.

But you’ll hear more about that tomorrow … okay, bring out
the biscuits and gravy and let the day begin. 

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