Events for Words & Music, BIG READ

Schedule Note: For additional information on individual presenters, click on the name of the presenter in the various event descriptions below.


Thursday, November 20th

8:00 a. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom
Registration, continental breakfast, announcements, and remarks about the 2014 theme.

8:15 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
The Art of Improvisation in Words, Music, and Life
Rosemary James
, Co-Founder, Faulkner Society and Words & Music.

8:30 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
Where They Wrote
Featuring Angela Carll, former Times-Picayune columnist and author of the new book, Where Writers Wrote in New Orleans, a lovely guide to the literary heritage of New Orleans. Angela, who lives in the Vieux Carré and has written literally thousands of words on New Orleans lifestyles, has organized a special literary tour for Words & Music guests. You can sign up with her during intermission or you can write to Angela in advance of the conference to make arrangements. Angela can be reached at:

8:45 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom

The Civil Rights Era in New Orleans
This session features Laura Lane McNeal, New Orleans-born author of Dollbaby. Set in the era of Civil Rights activism, this new book is a coming of age novel, similar in focus to The Help. As the events of Freedom Summer unfold, the major characters of an uptown New Orleans household attempt to understand what the events mean to their lives. In the end they learn that family can be found where they least expect it. Ms. McNeal, who has placed with other work in the Society’s William Faulkner–William Wisdom Competition, will discuss the sense of urgency that led to her novel and the process of getting it published by a major publishing house.

9:00 a. m. — I Love This City
Featuring Amy Conner, a Wyoming native who grew up in Jackson, MS, came to New Orleans as a student at Newcomb College of Tulane University, and here she has remained, except for brief periods in Singapore, France, and Covington, LA. Ms. Conner, who has a degree in philosophy, grapples with the basic philosophical issues of right and wrong in her new novel, The Right Thing, about friendship, what we owe our friends, and navigating compromise and principles. A late bloomer—she only began writing at age 50—Ms. Conner will zero in on what it takes to transform yourself from a jack of all trades—from runway model, private investigator, alligator farmer, antiques seller, executive secretary, t-shirt designer, and horse trainer—to accomplished writer with a grasp of the unique character of  New Orleans and its environs. One of the chapters in her book is titled I Love This City.

9:15 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
The Long Approach to New Orleans Noir
Mardi Gras Madness
This first session will feature Dr. Ken Mask, physician and author of both children’s books and a marvelous series of mysteries featuring detective Luke Jacobs. The series includes Murder at the Butt: A New Orleans Mystery, Luke Jacobs, P. I., and City Park Murder: Flowers on the Tops of Trees, as well as
e-book issues A New Orleans Detective Mystery, The French Quarter, and Mardi Gras Madness. Positive feedback and demand from fans during extensive book touring schedules has prompted the development of the first in the detective series, The French Quarter, into a motion picture/episodic television project (currently in development, under contracted option by Wendell Pierce for production.) To read a recent interview with Ken, visit:

9:30 a. m. —Queen Anne Ballroom
The Long Approach to New Orleans Noir
South, America!
The  second session, The Long Approach to New Orleans Noir, features Rod Davis, award-winning author of Corina’s Way, who is being compared to James M. Cain and Mickey Spillane with his new Southern noir novel South, America. The mystery is set in pre-Katrina New Orleans. On an early Sunday morning walk through the empty streets of the Faubourg Marigny, downriver of the French Quarter, maverick journalist and Big Easy transplant Jack Prine discovers the body of a well-dressed black man with a bashed-in skull. Soon Jack is drawn into a web of violence threatening Elle Meridian, the victim’s beautiful, complicated sister, burdened with a past she can barely confess. They begin a dangerous, desperate flight through Alabama, the Delta, and back to New Orleans, searching and evading goons, racists, voudou, and family secrets–all of the ingredients for a rich, dark, literary gumbo.

9:45 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
The Short Approach to New Orleans Noir
Poet, translator, and fiction writer James Nolan, who won the Society’s 2012 gold medal for his novel Higher Ground, has a new collection of short stories, which are destined to titillate the reader with their noir humor, reminiscent of his last acclaimed collection, Perpetual Care. Nolan, a fifth-generation native New Orleanian, is a master at the various class dialects and brands of humor that are typical of each of the city’s 85 distinct and separate socio-ethnic neighborhood cliques. Nolan will discuss the book and read illustrative passages from You Don’t Know Me: New and Selected Stories. Nolan paints a wry, disturbing, yet affectionately human portrait of his hometown for those who think they already know New Orleans, and what it means. But until you turn the addictive pages of these stories, you don’t—not really.

10:00 a. m. — Queen Anne Parlor
Author Signings in Words & Music Book Mart.  

10:15 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom

The Mystery of Mardi Gras: Its History
Mardi Gras has been an inspiration for fiction as well as non-fiction, including New Orleans Carnival Krewes: The History, Spirit and Secrets of Mardi Gras, the
new book by popular native New Orleanian playwright, Rosary O’Neill, released by The History Press. New Orleans is practically synonymous with Mardi Gras. Both evoke the parades, the beads, the costumes, the food—the pomp and circumstance and the carnival krewes that are the backbone of this Big Easy tradition. Every year, the various krewes, or Carnival clubs, put on extravagant parties and celebrations as a prelude to the beginning of the Lenten season. Historic krewes like Comus, Rex, and Zulu—which date back generations—are intertwined with the history of the city. Today, newly inaugurated krewes broaden the base of the Carnival season participation, once exclusive to high society in New Orleans. Through careful and detailed research of over 300 sources, including 50 interviews with members of these organizations, Rosary O’Neill explores this storied institution, its antebellum roots and its democratized 21st century character. Rosary will be interviewed by her friend, journalist Carole di Tosti, who has covered everything from social rebellion to film festivals, wine tastings, and flower shows.

10:30 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
New Orleans, Mon Amour, Often An Unfathomable City
This session features Rebecca Snedeker, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and writer whose work supports human rights and creative expression in her native New Orleans. Most recently, she collaborated with Rebecca Solnit and a host of contributing cartographers, writers, visual artists, and researchers to create Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (University of California Press), a brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, one that provides a vivid, complex look at the multifaceted nature of New Orleans, a city replete with contradictions. The book has 22 imaginative maps, each accompanied by essays, which assemble a chorus of vibrant voices, including geographers, scholars of sugar and bananas, the city’s remarkable musicians, prison activists, environmentalists, Arab and Native voices, and local experts, as well as the coauthors’ own compelling contributions. Snedeker has produced several feature documentaries that take place in New Orleans, including By Invitation Only (PBS), Witness: Katrina (National Geographic Channel), and Land of Opportunity (ARTE). Ms. Snedeker will discuss the ways in which New Orleans inspired her to create an entirely new take on a city that has had hundreds of books written about it, and the kind of collaboration it took to produce such a unique volume. For more on Ms. Snedeker, her collaborators, and the book, visit our faculty page.

10:45 a. m. —Queen Anne Ballroom
The Art of Setting the Scene in Visual Images: Capturing the Moment At Hand
Photographic artists, including David Spielman, whose work has been collected in three books of images, will focus on how form and spontaneity coalesce to create art. Spielman’s highly collectible books include Southern Writers, with 72 portraits of some of the South’s best authors; Katrinaville Chronicles, Spielman’s story of life during and after the Hurricane, focusing on an heroic effort to get stranded nuns out of the city when power and water service failed; and his latest book, When Not Performing, a collection of portraits of famous New Orleans musicians off-stage. Joining Spielman will be art photographer Joséphine Sacabo, who, along with her husband, the playwright, poet, fabulist, and artist Dalt Wonk, has created and operates Luna Press specifically for publishing art books, including books the two of them have created together and separately. Ms. Sacabo’s highly collectible images are represented here by A Gallery for Fine Photography as well as by galleries in New York and Mexico. A founding member of the Faulkner Society, her haunting and compelling images have graced the literature of the Society for 24 years. Also joining us are art photographer Richard Sexton, whose recently released book, Creole World, demonstrates definitively that the heritage of New Orleans is more directly connected to the Caribbean and Latin America than to Anglo-U.S. heritage; and art photographer Tina Freeman with her collaborator Morgan Molthrop for the new book, Artist Spaces. For more on these artists and their work, visit our authors and artists page.

Author Signings in Words & Music Book Mart.  

12:15 p. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
The Artful Feast
Renowned New Orleans dermatologist Dr. Nia Terezakis grew up in a small town

in the Deep South, daughter of immigrant Greek parents, whose lives in America—like the Ethiopian immigrant characters of the 2014 BIG READ focus book, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu—were lives of daily improvisation, learning to recreate their family’s traditional Greek lifestyle in new and different ways, practicing the art of the possible. Unlike Mengestu’s principal character, who arrives in the U. S. without parents, suffering from post traumatic stress, and is consequently unable to seize or build on opportunities, Dr. Terezakis, a celebrated hostess as well as a fine physician, learned well from her parents that the American Dream may be achieved when one seizes opportunities presented. She changed her life trajectory, for instance: after starting out as an interior designer, she caught a brass ring when it was offered to study medicine. She learned from her mother that, while the inspiration for their meals was always Greek in origin, adaptation to readily available ingredients was a necessity of their new life in America. Nia has always loved to cook, but as the busiest dermatologist in New Orleans—taking on critically injured patients, such as men injured in offshore oil well fires, along with patients requiring cosmetic treatments—she learned to adapt traditional recipes, improvising for the speed and convenience necessary for meal preparation by working women. Recently, she has re-invented her lifestyle, moving from Uptown New Orleans to the Warehouse District. With architect Errol Baron she has converted a large commercial building, improvising in re-use of space, to a spectacular modern private residence, a showcase for one of the best art collections in New Orleans. “The ability to adapt,” Nia says, “has been the guiding principal of my life.” Nia recently published Artful Feast, a spectacular lifestyle book, produced in collaboration with Dawn Brown, founder of Browncroft Publishing Company, who will be appearing with Nia to discuss bringing a lifestyle book concept to life. The beautiful photography for the book, including photos of Nia and Dawn, is by Rachel Chotin Lincoln, a partner in Browncroft.

12:30 p. m.

How Necessary Improvisation by Ethnic Chefs Has Enriched New Orleans Cuisine
Ann Benoit
is a commercial food photographer and culinary writer native to New Orleans. She is author and photographer of the highly acclaimed Broussard’s Restaurant and Courtyard Cookbook, photographer of Magic In A Shaker, and author and photographer of New Orleans’ Best Ethnic Restaurants, her latest book, which clearly demonstrates how the diverse immigration patterns of New Orleans have enriched the cuisine of the city. Bounce along this fun-filled culinary tour of New Orleans’ top 100 ethnic restaurants. It’s a romp from Eastern European pop-ups to Brazilian cuisine, winding through “American ethnic,” and, the most recent ethnic contributors to the City’s food culture, mom and pop restaurateurs from Ethiopia. As an overture to Ethiopian-born American author Dinaw Mengestu’s incredible book, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, our BIG READ selection—which focuses on themes of loss and how individual Ethiopian immigrants are coping with their new lives in America–Ms.Benoit will focus her remarks on food from Ethiopia, and her presentation will include samples for the audience. Ms. Benoit will also give a toast to our Pan American Connections headliner, Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North, with comments about Mexican food in New Orleans and samples for the audience. Her book is a treasure for all who enjoy diverse dining and cooking experiences.

12:45 p. m.
Authors will sign their books in the Book Mart.

1:15 p. m. — Bayona Restaurant, 430 Dauphine St.

Cash Bar
1:30 p. m.
Eat Dat: The Art of Improvisation in New Orleans Cuisine
Well known foodie Randy Fertel, author of the new non-fiction book, A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation, will introduce the program. (Randy will be giving the keynote address on Friday evening.) Food writers Rien Fertel, author of Imagining the Creole City, and Michael Murphy, author of the new food book, Eat Dat, New Orleans, are invited to join Randy and Chef Susan Spicer, owner of the renowned restaurant Bayona, to discuss the ways in which improvisation and spontaneity have defined the art of New Orleans cuisine, earning New Orleans culinary artists hundreds of followers and imitators all over the world. Chef Spicer started the trend of Nouvelle Cuisine fusion food in New Orleans three decades ago and now has many imitators for her signature dishes, which rely on food ingredients specific to the African diaspora, the Caribbean, Latin America, and other global sources, for their success.

3:30 p. m.

3:45 p. m. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom
The Annual Meeting of the Words & Music Writers Alliance
Writers with new fiction, non-fiction, and poetry are invited to read their work at this event. Readings are to be approximately five minutes per person. Authors must submit excerpts from fiction or non-fiction suitable for publication in The Double Dealer with author notes setting the scene for the excerpt. Amy Conner,
author of the new novel, The Right Thing, will be mistress of ceremonies for the event. Among those invited to read are Maurice Carlos Ruffin, winner of the Faulkner Society’s 2014 gold medal for Novel-in-Progress for All of the Lights, Kay Sloan, the 2014 winner of the Novella gold medal for Give Me You, and the winner of the Short Story gold medal, N. West Moss, for Omeer’s Mangoes, who was also a runner-up in the Novel-in-Progress category, who will be reading excerpts from their winning work. Others invited to read are Terri Stoor, a previous short story gold medal winner, and Andy Young, a previous gold medal winner for poetry, who has a spectacular new collection out, All Day It Is Morning. Competition finalists Tad Bartlett, J. Ed Marston, and Emily Choate, will also be reading, along with Mary Helen Lagasse, prizewinning author of The Fifth Sun, who will read from her new book, Navel of the Moon, scheduled for 2015 release. Event is included in writers and sponsors packages. There will be a cash bar.

Concurrent On-Site Programming


3:45 p. m. — Venue be Announced
In Search of the Living Dream
This session will feature bestselling poet, essayist, and dream analyst Rodger Kamenetz, author of bestselling non-fiction work, The History of Last Night’s Dream. Participants will submit in advance samples of new poetry and a summary of recent dream. Kamenetz will teach methods for utilizing dream material in creative writing. Samples are to be submitted
to by November 10.
Workshop included in Writers’ Tuition Packages; sign-up for workshop is first come, first serve, limited to 20 persons for critiques. Other writers are invited to audit. Participation in critiques by unregistered writers, $50 per person.

Concurrent On-Site Programming

3:45 p. m. — Orleans Room

5:15 p. m. — Front of Hotel Monteleone.

Buses for writers who have reserved transportation to Loyola for Pan American Connections will leave promptly. Note: We will provide bus transportation to Loyola and back downtown for $25 per person. (Less than round trip cab fare.) Seats on bus must be reserved by November 8. We will cancel this service if we do not have sufficient reservations to warrant renting at least a small tour bus.

6:00 p. m. — Loyola University, Dana Hall

Immigration: Its Human Toll and Its Inspiration for the Arts and Cultural Enrichment
Featuring Luis Alberto Urrea, Mexican-born American poet and bestselling author of the non-fiction book The Devil’s Highway, the novel Into the Beautiful North, and other works. This is a joint venture with Loyola’s Center for  Latin American Studies and Caribbean Studies, directed by Uriel Quesada, Ph.D. Former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque will open and close the program with poems related to the migration of Acadians from Nova Scotia to Louisiana and the rich ethnic culture of South Louisiana developed by the Acadians, or “Cajuns” as they are known popularly. Dinaw Mengestu, who was to have been a part of the program, was unfortunately forced to cancel due to teaching complications. His book, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, which revolves around three refugees from war torn African countries, is the Faulkner Society’s focus book for BIG READ, 2014. A free event of BIG READ and Words & Music, 2014, open to the general public.


6:30 p. m. — The Historic New Orleans Collection, Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street.
The Historic New Orleans Collection and Words & Music join the international music community in celebrating the 250th anniversary of the death of French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. 
The program will be led by French culture scholar and HNOC Curator Howard Margot, who will read passages (in English) of stories written about Rameau while he was alive. The stories will be interspersed with performances by a trio of sensationally talented musical artists bringing the music of Rameau to life. The concert artists are French harpsichordist Paul Gussot, known for his musical improvisations with organ and other instruments, cellist Daniel Lelchuck and violinist Joseph Meyer.  The concert is free and open to the general public. Because the space is intimate, reservations are a must.  To reserve, e-mail Reservations will be held until 6:20 p. m. on November 20th, when unclaimed seats will be released to the general public. To find out more about the Historic New Orleans Collection and the event, visit

8:00 P.M. — Residence of Dr. Nia Terezakis, 740 St. Charles Avenue.

The 2014 BIG READ/Words & Music Welcome Party is a by-invitation only event at the residence of renowned dermatologist Dr. Nia Terezakis, whose new book Artful Feast is a dazzling account of how as a young woman, Dr. Terezakis, whose parents were Greek immigrants, overcame all odds to become one of the country’s best known and respected dermatologists working with burn victims of the offshore oil industry as well as with patients with cosmetic needs. The book details the ways in which immigrants of her parents’ generation had to improvise to maintain a decent quality of life and provide for their children. Among guests of honor will be bestselling author Jervey Tervalon, a Creole who immigrated from the Deep South to Los Angeles many years ago to escape racial prejudice. His new book is Monster’s Chef. Invited to join Terezakis and Tervalon are Words & Music, 2014 keynote speaker Randy Fertel and Pan American Connections headliner Luis Alberto Urrea. Books by these authors will be available for sale and signing at the event. Guests will be BIG READ and Words & Music participants and sponsors.  Dr. Terezakis is recreating “dishes from home,” improvising with contemporary ingredients for the party, which she is hosting as a gift to BIG READ and Words & Music, 2014. Honoring out-of-town faculty, patrons, and sponsors of the Faulkner Society, the welcome party is by invitation only. Invited guests will include writers registered for Writers’ Tuition Packages. A limited number of tickets for general public are available for $50 each. Paid, advance reservations are mandatory.


Friday, November 21

8:00 a. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom
Continental Breakfast with remarks about day’s events.

8:30 a. m. — Orleans Room

8:30 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
21st Century Selling, Publishing & Promotion Alternatives
This session will be led by literary marketing expert Shari Stauch, founder of Where Writers Win and co-founder of the PubSense Summit, organizations serving the needs of writers seeking publication and marketing of their work. The session will feature John Köehler, president and publisher of Köehler Books. He is an award-winning graphics designer, and the author of five books. He and his staff publish a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books, including books by Latinos and emerging authors. John’s professional career includes working as creative director of a major advertising agency and running a design studio. Köehler believes that the kind of publishing initiative that is
right for one author is not necessarily right for the next author, and his company is founded on the principle of providing publishing alternatives. The company is known in publishing circles as a “hybrid press,” providing traditional publishing as well as new variations on self-publishing. Köehler is a critiquing editor for Words & Music, 2014. Also joining will be Julie Smith, Edgar-winning mystery writer, who, three years ago, created BooksBNimble, a publishing house which also embraces multiple forms of publishing.  Her clients include Patty Friedman and M. A. Harper, whose second novel in a planned trilogy is being released in print concurrent with Words & Music.
Patty Friedman’s new book will be released in the spring.

9:30 a. m.

9:45 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom

Creating Compelling Characters for Books, TV, and Film
This session will be introduced by Michelle Brower, an agent with Folio Literary Management, new to Words & Music this year, who says flatly that resonating characters and character development are everything for her when considering a manuscript. The workshop will feature successful screenwriters and novelists Carleton Eastlake and Loraine Despres, and will deal with one of the cornerstones for writing any kind of fiction: characters who draw you into their lives and hold you there until their stories are finished, leaving you wanting to revisit them again and again–either because you love them or because you want to strangle them. As examples of memorable characters, Carl and Loraine will introduce the triumvirate of African refugees who are the central characters of Dinaw Mengestu’s compelling novel The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, the Faulkner Society’s focus novel for its 2014 BIG READ project. We recommend that you read The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears to participate fully in the workshop. Five-page writing samples must be submitted in advance by November 10 to Workshop is included in Writers’ Tuition and Sponsor Packages; sign-up for workshop is first come, first serve, limited to 20 persons for critiques. Other writers are invited to audit. Participation by unregistered writers for critiques, $50 per person.

11:15 a. m.

11:30 a. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom

How to Get an Editor to Acquire Your Book
This session will feature one of the best in the publishing business, Brenda Copeland, an executive editor at St. Martin’s Press, who also teaches book editing at New York University. She will appear with one of the authors she acquired, Katherine Center, who has published four bittersweet comic novels about love and family, including The Bright Side of DisasterEveryone Is Beautiful, Get Lucky, and The Lost Husband, all of which have been widely reviewed and lauded by major journals. She has a new three-book deal with St. Martin’s, with the first book due out in 2015. Ms. Center will sign in the Book Mart after the discussion. Workshop included in Writers’ Tuition and Sponsor Packages; sign-up for workshop is first come, first serve, limited to 20 persons for critiques. Other registered writers may audit. Participation by unregistered writers, $50 per person.

Concurrent Offsite Programming

10:30 a. m. — St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1100 Chartres St., Old Ursuline Convent Complex

To learn more about this historic site, which currently has an exhibit celebrating the victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans, visit:

Gaining Insight and Inspiration In the Face of Cultural Differences
Master of Ceremonies will be novelist George Bishop, author of Letter to My Daughter and The Night of the Comet, who will present his selection for winner of the High School Short Story category of the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. Featured speakers will be Nghana Lewis, Ph.D., expert in the literature of the African diaspora, and Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of non-fiction work, The Devil’s Highway, and the novel, Into the Beautiful North, both of which revolve around the human toll of the immigration of families into the United States. Dr. Lewis will discuss the Faulkner Society’s 2014 BIG READ focus novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Ethiopian-born American author, Dinaw Mengestu, and the novel’s themes of loss and coping in the lives of immigrants. Winner of the Ernest Gaines Prize and a MacArthur genius award, Mengestu, who originally accepted our invitation to appear, has cancelled due to teaching schedule complications. Mr. Urrea will discuss The Life of the Immigrant, One of Daily Improvisation.

Noon — St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1100 Chartres St., Old Ursuline Convent Complex
Buses will arrive to pick up students

1:00 p. m. — Iberville-Bienville Suite, West Mezzanine, Hotel Monteleone
Cash Bar Opens
1:15 p. m. — Iberville-Bienville Suite, West Mezzanine, Hotel Monteleone
Lunch Begins
The Art of the Memoir: First You Need A Great Tale to Tell
The successful memoir must have all of the elements of a good
novel, starting with an interesting story line containing revelation of secrets, elements of mystery, fully developed, memorable characters, and humorous moments. This session, led by Randy Fertel, author of the New Orleans memoir, The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak, as well as a new book, A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation, features three other authors whose memoirs meet the standard: Caroline Clarke, author of Postcards from Cookie, a “could not put it down” account of an adopted woman’s search for her biological family, which ends in the shocking discovery that she is famed music icon Nat King Cole’s granddaughter; Lawrence Wells, whose memoir Shakespeare’s Royal Bastard is winner of the Society’s gold medal for Best Narrative Non-fiction Book; and Zachary Lazar, whose memoir about his father, Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder was a Best Book of 2009 in the Chicago Tribune. The thread that ties these memoirs together and explains their success is that they are all concerned with quests for answers to mysterious circumstances. Their books are highly recommended by the Faulkner Society. Wells’ is not out yet, but we suspect it won’t be long until it is available for purchase. Also highly recommended is Lazar’s new novel, I Pity the Poor Immigrant, described by the New York Times as “brilliant,” in which he revisits some of the themes from his earlier memoir.

3:00 p. m.

3:15 p. m.
Following the Unknown Path
This presentation will be by psychotherapist and craft artist Nitya Prema. It will detail one woman’s journey to
get in touch with herself and the natural world through a journey taken without pre-planning but, instead, by following the signs offered to her in messages from her archetypal psyche and from the natural world. The journey ended in a rejuvenation of her life and her careers, both as a psychotherapist and as an artist.

3:30 p .m. — Queen Anne Ballroom

3:45 p. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
Getting the Right Agent and Working Successfully With an Editor
All of our agents and editors will participate in a round table discussion followed by a question and answer session with the audience. The session will be led by literary agent Jeff Kleinman.

6:00 p. m. — Riverview Room, Roof, Hotel Monteleone

(details TBA)
The Art of Improvisation in Words, Music, and Life
Rebecca Snedeker
, co-
author of Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, and Lawrence Powell, Ph.D, author of The Accidental City and other works of narrative non-fiction, will discuss New Orleans as the epitome of improvisation as an introduction to our keynote speaker Randy Fertel, Ph.D, author of a compelling new non-fiction treatise on improvisation and spontaneity in our creative lives–in fact, in every aspect of our lives. The book is: A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation. It is Dr. Fertel’s conclusion, after 40 years of research and musing on the subject, that humankind would be a sorry lot without the drive to break free of the bonds of tradition and form, of society, and of propriety, to live fully in the moment at hand.

7:00 p. m. — Tentatively, Ursuline Convent Garden, Details, TBA
Cocktail party. Included in writers, sponsors packages. $15 per person, general public.

Saturday, November 22


8:00 a. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom
Continental Breakfast , Announcements

8:30 a. m. — Orleans Room

Concurrent Programming


8:30 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
Don’t Talk Down To Them! 
This session will be introduced by Julian Pavia, senior editor with Crown Trade. This class will feature Thao Le, a literary agent with the West Coast based Dijkstra Agency whose specialties include Young Adult fiction and children’s fiction for the middle years, and Heather Alexander, an agent with Pippin Properties of New York, a firm that specializes solely in fiction for children of all ages. Experts in literature for children always caution developing authors about talking down to children.  This and other pitfalls of writing for young people will be covered in this session. Thao and Heather are critiquing agents for Words & Music, 2014.

8:45 a. m.

10:00 a. m.
Menage a Trois: The Important Three-way Affair of Author, Agent, and Editor
This year’s session will feature author Alex Sheshunoff, author of Paradise Misplaced, a rollicking South Pacific adventure memoir, which won the Society’s 2013 gold medal for best narrative non-fiction book. Since winning the medal, he has been signed by the judge who picked him, literary agent Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management. Jeff, in turn, has sold the novel to Tracy Bernstein, Executive Editor at New American Library, a division of Penguin Random HouseThey will discuss the ways author, agent, and editor must work together to create a marketable book. The title of the book, for instance, has already been changed to:

A Beginner’s Paradise
Nine Steps to Giving Up Everything So You Too Can:

Wear a Loincloth, Read 100 Books, Diaper a Baby Monkey, Build a Bungalow, and Maybe, Just Maybe, Fall in Love!
* Individual results may vary.
As their relationship is just beginning, it is entirely possible, Kleinman notes, that this title may change again! Jeff and Tracy are among agents and editors critiquing for Words & Music, 2014.

11:00 a. m.

11:15 a. m.
The Role of Improvisation in Creating Works of Art in Narrative Non-fiction.
This session will be led by Randy Fertel, Ph.D, author of the new, definitive work on improvisation, A Taste for Chaos: Art of Literary Improvisation, and will feature narrative non-fiction authors who work in a variety of forms, including Rien Fertel, Visiting Professor of History at Tulane University and author of the new non-fiction book Imagining the Creole City: The Rise of Literary Culture in 19th Century New Orleans; noted biographer Gregory Orfalea, Ph.D, author of Journey to the Sun, a biography of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan monk, who essentially founded California by creating the missions which are today major cities and by converting thousands of native Americans to Christianity; and Caroline Clarke, author of the new memoir, Postcards from Cookie, in which she details her search for the identity of her biological family, a search which revealed she is the granddaughter of renowned music icon, Nat King Cole. Joining them will be Jane Satterfield, prize-winning poet and non-fiction author of Daughters of Empire: A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond, who judged the Society’s 2014 essay competition; and Marilyn Moriarty, winner of the 2014 essay competition and author of Moses Unchained, which won the AWP Prize for creative non-fiction.

12:30 p. m.

12:45 p. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Bienville/Iberville Suite, Mezzanine
Cash Bar Opens in the Bienville Room
1:00 p. m.
The Literature of Estrangement
Loss of identity, feelings of displacement, and post traumatic stress are elements of the human toll exacted by immigration and discrimination.  This session will be a conversation between Zachary Lazar
, author of the new novel, Pity the Poor Immigrant, which draws upon themes from his earlier memoir about his father,  and Mexican-born American author Luis Alberto Urrea, author of the novel Into the Beautiful North and the bestselling non-fiction book, The Devil’s Highway. Invited to moderate is Dr. Nghana Lewis, an expert in the literature of the African Diaspora, who will discuss elements of the BIG READ, 2014 focus book, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu, who is unable to attend because of teaching complications.  The BIG READ book, like the books of Lazar and Urrea, deals with the search for identity by those who have lost their homeland.

2:30 p. m.

2:45 p. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
The Secrets to Success in Becoming a Screenwriter
This session will be introduced by Louisiana-born professional screenwriter and director Glen Pitre and will feature Mark Evan Schwartz, who will zero in on what Hollywood demands in screenplays for film and television. Schwartz, author of the widely hailed How to Write: A Screenplay, will zero in on how to capture agents, managers, producers, development executives, and directors with a captivating first ten to 15 pages of a screenplay, utilizing an inciting incident and exciting characters to create an opening which will immediately propel the story forward.  Participating writers will get feedback in a supportive workshop environment with Schwartz. Writers are invited to submit the beginning of their feature film scripts, ten to 15 pages, along with a one-page synopsis of their story. Pilot, sitcom, and episodic television scripts will not be accepted. Enrollment for critiques is limited to 15, first-come, first serve, but any writer registered may audit. Workshop is included in writer tuition packages. Writers who have not purchased tuition or sponsor packages may register for critiques for $50.

4:00 p. m.

4:15 p. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom
Reconnections: Dreamscape Musings of A Druid Shamanic Poet, Writer, Artist, and Expressive Arts Teacher
This session will feature Jungian trained Norwegian author and artist Liv Evensen of Oslo, Norway, who has recreated her life in the wake of a tragic accident which took the life of a loved one. Her reconstructed life has been of ongoing improvisation, and she will focus on the healing processes of dreamscape explorations with her inner muse and learning to paint as routes to self discovery.

4:30 p. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom

The Art of Improvisation in Creating Poetry
This session, led by Marjory Wentworth, Poet Laureate of South Carolina and this year’s judge of the poetry category of the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, will feature Claire Dixon, winner of the 2014 gold medal for Best Poem; Darrell Bourque, who was Poet Laureate of Louisiana for two terms under two different governors; Darrell’s close friend, Luis Alberto Urrea, poet, fiction writer, and non-fiction writer; Jane Satterfield, and performance poet José Torres Tama
. Following a brief discussion, the poets will read work celebrating the art of improvisation. They will be introduced by poet Jade Hurter, a second-year candidate in the
MFA program at the University of New Orleans, who will participate in the program.



6:00 p. m.
Queen Anne Ballroom
Cash Bar Opens
6:15 p. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
The Art of Improvisation in Music: An Exercise in Humanity.
Internationally noted music critic Stanley Crouch, whose new book Kansas City Lightning is the definitive examination of famed jazz artist Charlie Parker, will introduce and lead a discussion session on the role that improvisation plays in creating and performing jazz. Featured with Crouch will be Jazz historian and professional drummer Bruce Raeburn, Ph.D., curator of special collections, including the Hogan Jazz Archives, at Tulane University, whose latest book is New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History; pianist, composer, and music producer, Telly winner Lawrence “Larry” Sieberth, and jazz clarinetist Tom Sancton, author of Song for My Fathers: a New Orleans Story in Black and White. These well-known musical masters are invited to discuss the role that waves of immigration have played in enriching the music culture of America and, specifically, New Orleans, as well as how immigrant musicians have had to adapt their music to suit the new audiences they have found in America. Joining them will be some talented young newcomers to the music scene, Tulane students who are taking a special course in traditional jazz and are participating in The Tulane Trad Band as part of the course. Those who have accepted our invitation are Ben Russell, drummer; Aurelien Barnes, trumpet; and Sam Weil, bass. These students also play gigs around town as members of the Bounceback Quartet. Following the discussion, the musicians will
perform together, demonstrating that artists who have never performed together can come together in the moment to produce a great listening experience for the audience. The Bounceback Quartet, incidentally, will be performing at Sunday night’s gala.

8:15 p. m.

9:30 p. m. — Napoleon House, 500 Chartres St., Corner of St. Louis St.
Tommy Sancton and his New Orleans Legacy Band will perform traditional jazz with plenty of improvisation. Attending musicians are invited to sit in. The event will feature open bar, great food, and the pleasure of mingling in the company of great writers. Sponsors and faculty are invited guests, tickets for writers are $75 per person, and general public tickets are $100. To find out more about Sancton and his band, read this review:

To get a taste of the music visit:

Sunday, November 23


8:00 a. m — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom
Continental Breakfast, Announcements

8:00 a. m. — Orleans Room
Concurrent On-site Programming

8:00 a. m.
Writing Out of Thin Air
Introduced by literary agent Deborah Grosvenor, this workshop will feature Rosemary Daniell, creator of the famed Zona Rosa writing workshops and prize-winning author of both non-fiction and poetry. Reach out and grab the moment at hand and make something of it on paper, Ms. Daniell advises. Then do it again, and again, and again, and pretty soon you have the makings of a book. During this workshop, you will experience improvisation first hand as Rosemary leads the group in writing on the spot in order to come up with fresh ideas and original material. You will also learn to bring your work to life by avoiding the two nemeses of creativity, over-thinking and self-doubt; and how to live in what Ms. Daniell calls “a Continuous Creative Burst,” a.k.a., the Magic of Creativity. By reaching out and grabbing the unconscious, and then doing so repeatedly, you’ll gain a fresh perspective on your book in progress or other writing project. Writers desiring critiques should submit five-page writing samples to by November 10. Writers who are not ready to show their pages may audit the session. Participation in the session is included in Writers Tuition or Sponsor. For unregistered writers desiring to participate with critique submissions, the fee is $50 per person.

9:30 a. m.

9:45 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
It’s just f——’ THERE!
Lessons of the Theatrical Improviser’s Art:
Parallel Universes, Synchronicity, and Depth Psychology’s “New” Erotic Cosmology
This paper will be presented by Alexandra Cichon, Ph.D., a professional actress experienced in the realm of improvisation for the stage, who describes herself as a wounded healer, researcher,  and psycho dramatist. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology, within the tradition of depth psychology, from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. As an actor, she is the recipient of the Oxford University Dramatic Society’s Best Actress Award and the Joseph Jefferson Award for Performance. She directed (jointly with the playwright) and performed in the English premiere of Commedia at the Oxford University Playhouse (a work in the improvisatorial Commedia dell’ Arte tradition). She also clinically directs psychodrama, founded in Jacob Moreno’s Viennese Theatre of Spontaneity. Currently, she explores the interface of ritual and theatre within Goddess spirituality as a member of the Priestess of Avalon training in Glastonbury, England.


10:00 a. m. — Queen Anne Ballroom
Lyle Saxon’s “The Centaur Plays Croquet,’’ an Improvised Life
This paper will be presented by Nancy Dixon, Ph.D., who annually entertains festival audiences with slices of the literary life in New Orleans. Dr. Dixon has been studying and writing about New Orleans literature, culture, and history for over 20 years. Her first book, Fortune and Misery: Sallie Rhett Roman of New Orleans, a Biographical Portrait and Selected Fiction (LSU Press, 1999), was chosen as the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year in 2000. Her latest book, N.O. Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature, was released by Lavender Ink Press. Dr. Dixon is a professor of English at Dillard University in New Orleans.

10:15 a. m.
Dr. Dixon will sign in the Book Mart, Bonnet Carre Room, adjacent to Queen Anne Suite

10:30 a. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom
The Experimental, Improvisational Art of William Faulkner
Famed music critic Stanley Crouch, who also is a Faulkner fan and scholar, and the Rev. Patrick Samway, S. J., scholar in southern literature and author of many books on such Southern literary giants as William Faulkner, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Conner, will join Faulkner Society Co-Founder W. Kenneth Holditch, Ph.D, scholar in Southern literature and Professor of Literature Emeritus, University of New Orleans, in a discussion of how jazz improvisations influenced Faulkner’s writing style.

11:30 a. m.
Participating Authors will sign in Book Mart

11:45 — Hotel Monteleone, Riverview Room, Rooftop
Cash Bar Opens
Lunch Begins
The Art of Improvisation in Writing Fiction
This session will be led by Moira Crone, winner of the Robert Penn Warren Award for
her body of fiction, whose recent novels include The Not Yet, an example of improvisational writing and a foray into speculative fiction, and her new novel, The Ice Garden, a Fall 2014 release from Carolina Wren Press. The Ice Garden won the Society’s gold medal for best novella and subsequently was expanded to novel length. Joining Moira will be George Bishop, whose novels, The Night of the Comet and Letter to My Daughter, have attracted widespread critical acclaim; author of six critically acclaimed novels Jervey Tervalon, whose 2014 release of Monster’s Chef is a delicious gumbo of fiction and food, heavily spiced with a celebrity spin; M. A. Harper, author of the new novel, Fire on the Bayou, a prequel to her successful novel, Ghost in the Bedroom, who is improvising in a big way by writing a family saga trilogy in reverse; and M. O. Walsh, Director of the Writers Workshop at the University of New Orleans, who won the Faulkner Society’s Novel-in- Progress award in 2011 for Whiteflies. He has since completed and sold this novel, now titled My Sunshine Away, to Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. Foreign rights already have been sold to UK, Brazil, Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands. The book is due out in Spring 2015.

1:45 p. m.

2:15 p. m. — St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Historic Ursuline Convent Complex, 1100 Chartres Street
Journey to the Sun
Noted biographer Gregory Orfalea, Ph.D. will be the featured author, interviewed by the Rev. William F. Maestri, teacher, theologian, and author of 40-plus books on the interface of social culture and politics with the Church. Rev. Maestri is currently Director of the Bishop Perry Center, an outreach mission of the Archdiocese of New Orleans for the disadvantaged. Dr. Orfalea’s new book, Journey to the Sun, is the fascinating story of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan Priest, who was responsible for the founding of California by creating the missions which are now the state’s major cities. Serra, a remarkable man, traveled to California from his parental home in Mallorca, an arduous journey in the 18th Century, and then traveled thousands of miles all around the West Coast establishing missions and converting Native Americans to Christianity. Father Serra was a
Spanish immigrant to Native American territory, and to put it mildly, he was not always welcomed with open arms.

3:45 p. m. — Convent Garden
Tea and Cocktails with Dr. Orfalea and Father Maestri. Dr. Orfalea will sign at this event. Please purchase his book in advance from the festival book mart or Faulkner House Books, 624 Pirate’s Alley.

4:15 p. m.

4:45 p. m. — Hotel Monteleone, Orleans Room

Mastering the Markets to Build a Platform for Publication
This session will be led by literary marketing expert Shari Stauch, founder of Where Writers Win and co-founder of the PubSense Summit, organizations serving the needs of writers seeking publication and marketing of their work.Joining her will be Morgan Molthrop, a New Orleans native, entrepreneur, writer, and social critic. Molthrop is the leading New Orleans historical “color analyst” and is a frequent lecturer for major corporations. In partnership with Carling Dinkler III, Molthrop’s company provides turnkey guest “experience” solutions for clients visiting New Orleans. He is the author of Artist Spaces (UL Press 2014), a book of 100 images of live/work artist studios with renowned photographer Tina Freeman. He is also the author of Andrew Jackson’s Playbook: 15 Strategies for Success. This is the first book of its kind to be serialized on Facebook. In 2014 he founded Barataria Communications as the social media, PR, and publishing arm of Custom New Orleans. Morgan, an entertaining speaker, will also be the evening’s toastmaster for the Society’s gala black-tie 24th annual meeting, Faulker for All.

Alternative Off-Site Programming

CINEMA & CONCERTFantomas1911
5:00 p. m. — Cathedral – Basilica of St. Louis King of France,
Jackson Square
A special showing of the epic 1913 silent film The Murderous Corpse, the third in the famous film series Fantômas by the legendary French cinematic artist Louis Feuillade, with improvised organ accompaniment by Paul Goussot,who is on the faculty of the summer organ academy in Granville and is organist of the famed “Dom Bredos” organ at the abbey of St. Croix in Bordeaux. Both Feuillade, as an early filmmaker, and Goussot, as a popular international recitalist today, are considered masters of improvisation. The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society highly recommends this event to our Words & Music guests.

The event is free and open to the general public.

7:30 p. m. — Hotel Monteleone
The 24th gala black-tie annual meeting of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, Inc.
Judges of the 2014 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition will present their winners, runners-up, and finalists, and the Society will award its annual ALIHOT (A Legend In His/Her Own Time) Awards for literature, music, and philanthropy. The event will be “The Last Word” of Words & Music, 2014 and will include cocktails, dinner, and dancing.

The 2014 toastmaster for the event is New Orleans native Morgan Molthrop, entrepreneur, writer, social critic, and entertaining speaker, who is author of the new book Andrew Jackson’s Playbook: 15 Strategies for Success, an homage to “Old Hickory” and the victory of New Orleans over the British. The Faulkner Society has adopted Andrew Jackson as our American hero of improvisation. Many consider the victory nothing short of a miracle and Andrew Jackson a miracle worker, coping with Jean Lafitte’s band of piratical renegades and the highly contentious populace of New Orleans to forge a victory. Over the years, Jackson has become a symbol of the ability of New Orleanians to rise above looming disaster and, indeed, disasters such as Katrina, to overcome all obstacles, to keep the faith and keep on truckin’ when all seems lost. Morgan will let writers and readers in on how Andy Jackson’s strategies can work for us, if we are just willing to improvise, to capture the moment at hand, and to carpe diem!

Among those Morgan will introduce is Alexandra Cichon, Ph. D., a clinical psychologist and award-winning actress. Alexandra, who is presenting earlier in the festival, is the daughter and granddaughter of Polish immigrants and the epitome of a successful, multi-tasking career woman. She will do a stand-alone improvisation, based on the musings of an immigrant forced to improvise in order to create a new life in a new land.

Music for the event will be provided by the Bounce Back Quartet, a young group which is gaining traction with gigs around town. The members are Tulane University students who are taking a course this year in traditional New Orleans jazz. As part of this course, they also play with Ani and the Tulane Trad Band. The Quartet is Ben Russell on drums, Aurelien Barnes on trumpet, Sam Weil on Bass, and Rob Kellner on piano.

Event is free for festival underwriters, winners, and runners-up, and is included in writer, sponsor packages. Extra tickets for writers, $75 per person; general public, $100.


Until We Meet Again in 2015.

Be Sociable, Share!