Here Comes Vicki Allen – Hang On To Your Hat!

Yes, I know it is a worn out cliché, but folks I swear if you look in the dictionary for Type A Personality, you would find a picture of Vicki Allen. To prove my point, let me list just a few of her titles and activities:
Pharmacist, drug store/restaurant owner, Mardi Gras Mask Maker and Krewe Member, Certified Zumba Instructor, Wife, Mother, Daughter,….. and my personal favorite – Author. Oh yeah, she likes scrapbooking and photography too. I have known for a long time that I would blog about her but our respective schedules are definitely not in sync, (imagine that) so I did the next best thing. I emailed her. The following post is a conglomeration of the answers she gave to my somewhat amateurish questions, and from my own observations from having met this little red-headed powerhouse in person a couple of times. Besides that, we are facebook friends, that being my only claim to her fame. But first, can I say how much she inspired me without even knowing it? It was probably 2002 or 2003. I can’t remember. Maybe it was 2001? Anyway, we were both set up in our booths at the Pecan Festival, she with her books and gift baskets, me with my paintings. I spotted her booth across the way and was drawn to the books. Luckily, I approached the booth at the same time a person I knew did and low and behold, she happened to know Vicki personally. I met her and was totally thrilled. I was talking to a real author! To make a short story simple, I took advantage of the moment and crammed every question I could think of about writing and publishing into my ten minutes of conversation with her. I can’t remember a lot of what we talked about, after all I was star struck, but I do remember one thing. She encouraged me to write. She encouraged me to believe that I could do it.

You know the rest of the story. It took me several years, but I took her advise and I wrote a few books. The first one I lost to cyber-space. That was shortly before I learned what a memory stick is. The second book – well, let’s just say that one never saw the light of a publisher’s day, and for good reason. It took on a life of it’s own and seemed to turn into an exorcism of every bad thing I could think of. Brrrrrr! Glad that one’s gone. The next one, I published. And I am very, very happy about that. By the way, thanks Vicki. Who is to say I could have done it without your encouragement that October day about a hundred years ago?

Vicki Allen

So humor me a bit, people, the following ‘interview’ is pretty much elementary answer-and-question style without much literary embellishment. But I’m tellin’ you, she’s dynamite, so hang on!

Q: What inspired you to write?
A: Not quite sure how it started. I’ve been writing since around age 7 when I used to ride around the neighborhood on my bicycle building onto the stories that randomly popped into my head. As I got older, I began to jot them down. In fact, I developed the plot for what later became my first book, “For Molly” at age 16.

Q: How many books in print, how many working on now?
A: Currently four books in print: “For Molly,” “The Search for Shannon,” “The Return” and ”Drink One to Me, Christian Bennett” with three more in the works.

Q: How do you write more than one at a time?
A: I’ve learned over the years to write down all ideas, dialogue, descriptive passage, etc., as soon as they come to mind. Some remain vague scenes or random snippets of dialogue, while others develop into full-fledge manuscripts. The more appealing the idea, the more I tend to build on it. “The Return” started from a single paragraph I scribbled down while working on “The Search for Shannon” and grew steadily from there. Once I become engrossed in a storyline, it’s difficult for me to put it aside, even while in the middle of another project so ultimately, I bounce between them as the mood strikes.

Q. How has your family encouraged your work?
A. My entire family has always been incredibly supportive of my work, allowing me time and space to write, reading rough drafts, serving as sounding boards as I toss around ideas, and even accompanying me on book tours—and after four books and three-hundred-plus author events and signings, that says a lot.

Q. Where do you write?
A. I can write just about anywhere, which is why I keep a little notebook in my purse to jot down ideas as soon as they come. I’ve found that nothing is quite as good if I try to remember it later. If my notebook is not handy, any scrap of paper will do. The majority of my books were constructed from handwritten notes, typed pages and rubber-banded stacks of envelopes, scrap paper and Post-It Notes.

Q. Tell me about the hut.
A. The hut is my creative mecca – a freestanding office designed by my husband after he read an article about Oprah Winfrey’s backyard retreat. At the time, our sons were young; our house was loud, constantly filled with rambunctious boys and I was in desperate need of a quiet space to concentrate. To the untrained eye, the hut is sheer chaos—a disorganized cluttered space littered with beads/paint/feathers, photographs and haphazard piles of binder-clipped manuscript pages, but to me, it’s heaven…

Where all the magic happens

Q. Live in the country?
A. We live on 2 acres backing up to a lake just outside the city limits. Close enough to still be in town, yet secluded enough to feel like we’re on vacation.

Q. How often do you write?
A. In an ideal world, I would write everyday. In reality, I write constantly in my head, but for the past couple of years, truly have only had pockets of time here and there to put a few passages on paper. Raising three children and owning a business have consumed much of our time, but now that our youngest child has started college, I am hoping to settle back into a daily routine.

Q: Character you love best?
A: Four-Way Tie: Susanna Robicheaux (For Molly), Lois Carson (The Search for Shannon), Doug Fairchild (For Molly), Javier Cabrera (Drink One to Me, Christian Bennett).

Q. Character you identify with?
A: As with most writers, there is a little bit of me in all of my characters. I don’t think one could pour as much heart and soul into creating them and not have at least some aspects of his own personality shine through. I identify most with my strong feminine characters – the take-charge types with vibrant spirits, dry wit and sharp tongues, which comes as a surprise to most of my readers. Where they are convinced they are meeting Ashley, they actually get Susanna. 😀

Q. Include friends as characters, names?
A. In all my books, only four characters are based on real people and only one of those carries the same first name.

Q. How does you separate work life, play life, writing?
A. Unfortunately, as noted above, work is the evil stepchild who presently demands the majority of my attention. When I do write, I prefer to hunker down in the hut at night or on my day off so I can get it all down without interruption. Play life? In short supply—Right now, play life is proportional to the time we can leave the pharmacy and get out of town 😀

Q. Awards?
A. The Search for Shannon was a fiction finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award.


A Real Gem in Downtown Alexandria, Louisiana

When I was a young girl fresh out of high school, I lived in a garage apartment close to downtown Alexandria, Louisiana, 829 ½ Fisk Street, to be exact. My rent was $40 a month and it was the cutest garage apartment, although quite rickety in a freakish sort of way. In other words, the whole place shook when a person crossed the room. The mirror on my dresser slapped the wall with every footstep. But I was young and daring back in 1972 and the price was right. The tiny apartment sat behind the main house which was huge, and full of rich detail work, the kind that you don’t see replicated anymore. The owners, an elderly couple by the name of Moreau, where still very much in love with each other. He called her chic and she called him sweetheart. I fell in love with their old house, especially the elegant staircase that floated up to several bedrooms. In it’s day, the spare bedrooms were boarded out. Quite a history, I’d say. If walls could talk….

I adore bits of architectural history. In those days, I was just starting out and inexperienced in the ways of life but I had already acquired a taste for all things antique. And because I lived nearby, I enjoyed walks to the historic downtown district almost daily . Everybody I knew said that Downtown was a bumpin’ place at one time and I can believe it. The streets are lined with fabulous old buildings. And, back in the day, the shops were equally as fascinating; everything from clothiers, to drug stores, to upscale jewelry stores. Needed a mop, furniture, a diamond ring? You name it, you could get it downtown. It isn’t like that these days. For the most part, buildings stand empty and sad and alone.

But here is the good news: Downtown Alexandria is making a comeback! I think it’s a shame that we lost the atmosphere of a bustling main street America to begin with. But, as they say, you don’t miss something until it’s gone. Thankfully, there are people, only a handful at first, who saw the potential and had a dream. As you know from my previous posts, I can attest that dreams do come true. Therefore, the resurgence of the hip be-there-or-be-square flock-to place is the culmination of the efforts and dreams of many interested parties who dared to care. The real estate downtown is prime once again.

the gem

Take, for example, the old Gem Jewelry building. Sandwiched between empty store fronts, it is being restored by Duana Juneau and business partner (and ex-husband) Greg Trotter. The old Gem is undergoing quite an extensive remodel/restoration. Bless her heart, she appreciates the value of quality antique buildings and is taking care to preserve every original element salvageable. Even the outside of the building has it’s share of restoration as it has been painted with colors historically correct to the era in which is was built. It is beautiful; 1908 must have been a good year. The original molding is still in place inside but the only salvageable tin ceiling pieces are preserved in a strip showcased on the first floor ceiling.

Duana has big plans for the old Gem. She took me upstairs and I can’t tell you how comforting the creak and snap sounds of the old steps were. It reminded me of big wooden building my grandparents built to house their business in Kentucky way before I was born. In fact, I think the old Gem building is only 20 or so years older than my grandparents store. Yes, Grandma’s old store still stands as far as I know. Over the years different people have bought it and loved it just like the new ‘down-towners’ are doing in Alexandria. Back to Duana’s project, the entire upstairs, hereby referred to as Loft on 3rd, is the perfect studio for her photography business. It’s huge and I would give my eye teeth to have a space like that! Wow, the things I could do, the art I could create, the books I could write!

loft floors

pre-reno gem

The main floor has been renovated for entertaining. It will be available for a variety of gatherings, ie, weddings, receptions, banquets, corporate meetings, art shows, etc. It will be a very exciting venue! There is a warming kitchen available for caterers and room enough for 200 or so people. Duana has maintained an elegant and prestigious ambiance, already discernible despite the fact that renovation won’t be completed until the first part of August. I am quite certain a smidgen of that ambiance remains from days gone by, maybe even from some reticent soul still clinging to the grand old building.

gem chand

A few modern amenities have been added as well.

gem bathroom

I hear tell the Bentley Hotel will open again and perhaps a few more eateries and other local business are in the future as well. The word condominium has been whispered here and there. Can you imagine that? If I were single and planning to move back to Alexandria, I would love a downtown condo!

Personally, I think that downtown Alexandria has more than one Gem. There are many, and to quote one of them:
“It’s up to us to preserve this. Somebody has to step in and save it. It starts with one person and, hopefully, the others will follow.” ~ Duana Juneau

Parrino’s Drug Store In Beautiful Downtown Bunkie, Louisiana


I’m beyond pleased that Parrino’s Drug Store is carrying my book now. I feel like I’ve hit the big time!

Let me tell you a little bit about beautiful downtown Bunkie, Louisiana. It’s a pinpoint spot on the map at the crossroads of Central and South Louisiana. I’ve been told Bunkie used to be a happenin’ little town. Coulda fooled me. I’ve known about this place for about 15 years now and it’s always been a sleepy, quiet, little town. It’s really very charming. When I first moved to the area (about 15 miles south of Bunkie – love brought me here 🙂 ) a Walmart lived here. And some delightful antique shops lived on Main Street across from the railroad track. There were about 3 or 4 car dealerships, a Dairy Queen, and a Chinese restaurant, a couple of furniture stores, two grocery stores, Winn Dixie and Piggly Wiggly. They say there used to be a clinic here too. Business used to be good; a couple of sign companies, a Coca Cola company, and I’m sure many more businesses were here. Bunkie used to have a bumpin’ Train Depot. The track slides through the middle of town and everyday, trains pass blowing their whistles ninety to nuthin’.

It’s different now. Winn Dixie closed. Walmart closed. Chinese restaurant closed. Car dealership shut down. Sign companies are gone. Antique stores look like they are taking a long nap. Even Dairy Queen left. McDonald’s weathered the economic downturn. So did Piggly Wiggly and City Drug. There are a couple of flower shops, several churches. Fred’s and Dollar Stores replaced Walmart.

The most awesome part about Bunkie is the people, I kid you not. I think the people living here love that down home feeling only a small town can deliver. People still walk to their neighbors, or to church. The kids go to school with the same friends from kindergarten to high school. Everyone knows each other and, can you believe it, a person can just say “will you put that on my tab?” and some enterprises will actually do that. You don’t see that much anymore. When I lived in Austin, Texas back in the 80’s, a person had to show three forms of identification to write a check!

Bunkie is historic. It’s a diamond in the rough, although it used to shine like a star a long time ago. I hope somebody else sees it for what it is and keeps it from dying a slow death. It’s a beautiful place.


This is a photo of the Parrino Drug Store on Main Street. I’m sure it hasn’t changed on the outside for YEARS. But the inside – now that’s a different story. I love that store!


It’s full of the neatest stuff! Ya’ll pile up in the wagon and go to Parrino’s! You won’t be sorry.

What about your town? Is it a treasure like Bunkie? Feel free to leave a comment on this post. I’d love to hear from you!

It’s not what you think


This picture reminds me of what my friend told me she over heard when she was at physical therapy the other day. All the women in the group were talking about how cumbersome having big boobs was. It seems the therapist had an old (I’m talkin’ 80’s, folks) lady on their table. She was struggling to turn over and said loud enough for every one in the room to hear
“Yeah, I used to ask for a size 40 D bra, now I have to ask for a 40 long!”

My friend Sylvia woke me up this morning at 7:30. I didn’t answer the phone, but listened to the message she left on the answering machine. She said she was trying to be faithful to her commitment to go to water aerobics on Wednesdays and wanted to know if I was going. At one time Sylvia and I said water aerobics was something we were going to do together. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. One week I had to miss, one week she had to miss, etc. Once, I did go by myself but it wasn’t as much fun without Sylvia. I am, believe it or not, shy. Add that to a slightly different culture of people at the Wellness Center in that town (When you live waaay in the country, you really have to travel to go anywhere). I was downright uncomfortable.
Back to the phone call…I laid in bed for a minute trying to think of a way to let her know I didn’t want to go but then her words began to resonate in my heart. “Trying to be faithful to her commitment.” Good grief. After I thought about it, I HAD to go. You know, it’s not easy getting into an exercise routine. I’ve tried all kinds of different programs from tapes to gyms. I have quite a collection of tapes and dvds – Richard Simmons (all those wonderful old songs!), Leslie Sansone (who knew I had so many miles I could walk in my little bitty house?), belly dancing… *screech*…. Belly dancing? Yes, I did belly dancing for a while. Me, over weight, late 50’s, yes, I belly danced. I didn’t say it was pretty. There was a lot I couldn’t do because of certain disabilities I have but I did enjoy it. I’d still be doing it if it wasn’t 40 miles away and 40 dollars a month. I’m on a fixed income. Need I say more?
Back to water aerobics…I called my friend back and said I would meet her in an hour. I’m glad I did except for the fact that now I feel like a limp dish rag but that’s ok. It’s all good. The class was milder than some I have attended before which suited me just fine. You know how sometimes every bone in your body hurts and that’s before you get out of bed? That’s how I felt this morning, so movement in and out of the water was hard. Once I got going, it wasn’t too bad. But I digress. Again, the class was good and I’m glad I went with Sylvia. I don’t know, maybe I have a weird sense of humor or something but when I looked out at all the women exercising in the water, I had to fight off an attack of the giggles. Some ladies were big, some little, some gray, some not – all, myself included, had big boobs bobbing in the water like twin floaties. I hate to think what would have happened to me if I would have shared that observation!

On to another topic, semi-related:

The other day I happened to see Mika Brezenzinski on the NBC Today Show. The woman has an amazing career in journalism and tv. Wow, what a beautiful person! I imagine I was just as stunned as anyone else to hear that she has eating disorders. She’s gorgeous. And she looks like the picture of health. Who knew that she struggled so much with food? She and her best friend, who was fat, wrote a book about their journey fighting to overcome what held them down the most. I ordered the book (—Own/dp/1602861765/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369255570&sr=8-1&keywords=obsessed+mika+brzezinski) right away and am about half-way through it. It really hits home and I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with weighty issues. You read that right, weighty issues. Our problems with food aren’t the result of too many pounds. Our problems with food develop from other issues. You knew that, didn’t you? I did, but do you think I ever took the time to dissect what manifested my personal addiction to certain foods? Homework alert. Hard homework, the kind that makes your brain hurt. If you want to do this, you’d better be ready to open yourself up to some truths that might startle you. For example, rewarding yourself with food. Where does that come from? I know I reward myself often when I have done something that deserves it like finishing a project, perhaps a successful book signing, or after having a disagreement with my husband or even – um – water aerobics. Ha! (I want chocolate donuts, big, creamy chocolate filled donuts.)

Mika Brzezinski

And speaking of successful book signings~
How can there be an unsuccessful book signing? I am proud to say I had my 2nd book signing at a place called LeVillage, a B&B in Eunice, Louisiana owned and operated by Felicia Wiggins. What an awesome place! In addition to two big ol’ guest houses, the old Chappelle Grocery Store sits on the property. That building was moved to its current location many years ago from a tiny community called Turkey Creek, about 20 miles up the road. Rustic and charming, it was the perfect site for the book signing/wine&cheese tasting/Market Preview. There were several vendors there with homemade jellies, pies, cakes, quilts, and antiques! It was a beautiful setting and I really enjoyed it. Below the link to LeVillage, see the pic taken that night of my buds and me . I’m the one on the far right. What a hoot!


I wrote a post in this blog in Oct, 2011 that included info about LeVillage. Here is a link to that one:

Keep praying for peace, ya’ll.


Tiffany Marie’ Photography and The Old Ladies’ Club

If you know me, you know that writing a book has been #1 on my bucket list for a number of years. I’ve had such a great life with so many laughs, I couldn’t just let it pass without writing some of it down.

Well, I did write a book and it isn’t an autobiography, but it is about old ladies (hmmmm. Maybe just a little autobiographical, lol). Secrets Of The Old Ladies’ Club is in publication and will be out sometime soon – if I ever get through the rounds of proofs. It is a self-published book through Iuniverse and it has taken me 3 years or so to bring an itty bitty 218 page book this far. Thank God it isn’t longer! I SO admire and respect those real authors who manage to handle 300-400 page manuscripts! To be honest, this one was nearly 300 pages but after I got the editing knife out, it shrank. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but it is done. Good, bad, or ugly, I love it!

Anyway, here is my plug: I want you all to take a look at my new friend Tiffany Marie Fontenot ~


She is the little darling who took my portrait for the book cover. She has her own photography business called Tiffany Marie’ Photography. What I really liked about her is that she immediately put me at ease. I hate having my picture made and I’m not photogenic at all. But she seemed to understand that and rolled with it. It takes a special person to do that, ya know. Tiffany has been shooting for two or three years now which is really cool considering how young she is. She told me she was grew up with a camera in her hand and has a real passion for it. Check out some of her pics below you’ll see proof positive how true that is. This is what she has to say for herself:

And finally here’s some words from my heart……new beginnings, new life, first steps, life’s milestones, memories made…I can help you capture these and many more. Life happens too quickly. Images that we catch are a moment in that passing time, moments though that can be cherished for many years to come. The first step is to contact me and we can talk about what it takes to create the pictures that will take your breath away.”


337 831-0874

And if you want to see more of her work, visit her facebook page:!/TiffyMphotography?fref=ts

amber leflueramber horseMegan and her maids

Please feel free to leave a comment, or better yet, share the blog!



ANNOUNCING MY FIRST SALE EVER!  I have decided that I want to reward anybody who takes the time to read my blog or facebook.  Starting today, I will make a coupon available for 15% off anything in my etsy shop!  All you have to do is ‘like’ my fb, etsy shop, and/or this blog.  Enter   BLOGFAN1     on the checkout page.



I love facebook!  It can have quite a lot of advantages, one being the opportunity to run into old friends that have gotten lost or misplaced.  Such is the case of Adrian Bettevy.  We first met waaay back in 1980 or some time around that era.  Although I never got to know her as well as I would have liked to, there seemed to be some sort of unspoken bond between us.  You could say we go years between sightings, but there still is that draw.  Kindred spirits, we two?  I’d like to think so, although she is the sweetest kind of person I’ve always hoped I would evolve into.  That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still working on it, lol.  We do have a lot in common.  We are both ‘creators’ – we are makers of things.  Her talent is far more complicated than mine – she can smock!!  And she studied heirloom sewing!!  It’s amazing, in my opinion.   I found out she just opened an etsy shop and I am as tickled as I can be for her!  You should go to  and give her some etsy love.  And you can slip by her facebook page – search for Celestine’s Porche and give her some fb love.  Here, let me show you come photos of what she can do:


Isn’t she somethin’?



And now for a shameless plug:

Car Rosary

I call it a Rear View Mirror Bracelet

  Deep Purple Amethyst


Exclusive New Design

If only I had a really good camera that would show you the true color of the deep purple amethyst stones!!

Deep purple amethyst 8mm beads flanked by gold plated end caps  +  10 mm Pater beads embraced by gold plated flower and ball spacers and endcaps  =   A beautiful combination for your car’s rear view mirror bracelet.  The gold tone center bead connector depicts the Virgin Mary with a halo of stars.  Gold tone crucifix is open work design and approx 1 3/4 inches long.  Over all length is 9 inches as it hangs depending on the depth of the curved wire hook.
I designed this car rosary with a 20 gauge suspension wire to hold the rosary open at all times, even when turning or stopping your car.  It won’t bunch to one side or swing precariously.  And it is SO easy to attach.

It’s for sale on etsy.  (




Yesterday I featured a shop owned and operated by two sisters.  Today, I would like you to come see the LaurelSusanStudio, owned and operated by a mother and daughter team.  That is a lovely concept, isn’t it?  (Wish I had a daughter I could do that with!  Somehow, my boys aren’t into it.  Maybe when my granddaughter gets about 18 years older!)  The studio features home decor, art, accessores, jewelry;  it’s all beautiful!  This fab team makes eco-friendly table linens, crochets the laciest lookin’ scarves, creates awesome polymer clay designs, not to mention the pillow slipcovers, baby blankets, ornaments, etc.


Heirlooms by Elisabeth

Liz, the owner of this sweet-sweet (in Louisiana, that’s one word – sweet-sweet.  It means – well, really sweet!) new shop has a gift for making itty bitty clothes for doll babies.   As I mentioned before, I was never blessed with doll baby players, so this would be a new thing for me, but when you go to her site, you will be smitten by how adorable those clothes are!  Don’t forget to check out her profile, too.  It’ll melt your heart.


Harmony Schoolhouse

Kathleen McKennon, the owner of Harmony Schoolhouse, seems to be the kind of person I would like to be.  She sounds warm, genuine, kind, and caring.  If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself at her blog:

I think she is not the kind of woman who would toot her own horn so to speak, so let me do it for her.   What she does for her friend is a perfect example of the Golden Rule:  Love one another.  Seriously, go check out her blog. Then go to her shop and buy a prayer bowl.  And a journal, a storage box, and an artist trading card, as well.


Branklets N Bling

For those of you who have never heard of a Branlket, here’s your opportunity to learn something new:  a branklet is a bracelet that can be converted to an anklet.  Or maybe it is an anklet that converts to a bracelet.  Whatever, all I know is Jennifer McKennie’s talent with beads (etc) is awesome.  Not only that, she’s the kind of daughter who gives her mom’s shop a plug on her profile!  ( )

Her mama must have raised her right!


Cajun Creation

A Cajun after my own heart!  Stop what you are doing and go immediately to this shop!  This southern native incorporates her love of all things Louisiana into her work with various types of tile and cypress wood.  Beautiful!  I just want to go to her house and smell the cypress!  Oh, wait.  I live in Louisiana too.  I can do that.  My regards to Domineaux and Panda Bear Too!


Smelly Monster

YES!  Somebody finally agrees with me about how kids stink – er- smell!  I love love love this new shop.  And I think calling it the Smelly Monster is a fantastic idea.  Kids are bound to love it!  For some reason, I think the awesome names of the products offered here would make a kid jump into the bath tub and suds it up!  I have three grandchildren who will have a blast.  Yes, I am ordering!


And now for one of my own items:

Turquoise glass lampwork beads are the 14mm Pater beads for this special rosary.  They are accented with silver plated bead caps and balls, handwrapped with non-tarnish wire.  Each of the 8mm ave beads are hand wire wrapped and are deep turquoise with an aurora boriealis finish picking up the lovely dark color deep in the Pater beads.  The center connector is a very elegant silvertone Miraculous Mary medal that pairs nicely with the silvertone crucifix.
You can find this beautiful rosary in My Nana’s Pocket!