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You Can’t Go Home Again

In my only one-sentence blog, I pay homage to Thomas Wolfe’s eponymous classic and offer proof that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

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Character Study

Reviews and reader responses are always a surprise, and my book Communion of Sinners is no exception. I hadn’t expected so many requests to see my protagonist Sam Crockett in another book, nor so many people expressing admiration for Manuel Alvarado, my Chumash Indian artist. Based on a couple of New Orleans friends, Sam was a breeze to create, but Manuel was a challenge who emerged for a couple of reasons. Once I began writing about the enslavement of the Indians under the California Mission system, I worried about my story being too dark and negative and knew I needed a character the reader could sympathize with and root for. That’s when Manuel began tugging at my mental sleeve, but knowing I needed him and knowing something about him were two...

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Lasting Impressions

The über hot ticket in Washington, D.C. this summer is the Edgar Degas/Mary Cassatt exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. One surprising revelation is that both artists loathed being labeled “Impressionists” (they preferred “independents”), but no mention is made of the abruptness with which Degas threw himself into this radical style or that his decision was made thousands of miles from his native France. Degas’s mother, Celestine Musson, was a Louisiana Creole who died when he was thirteen, and in 1872, at age 38, he visited her brother Michel and his daughters, Estelle, Mathilde and Désirée in New Orleans. Seduced by the exotic city, he wrote glowing letters home about his enchantment. “Everything attracts me here…the white houses with columns of fluted wood...

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