Waltzing Through Louisiana

B&NBatonRouge2Last week, I was down in Louisiana for a couple of readings/signings for my latest novel, Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears. Firstly, I want to offer my condolences to those people who didn’t show up. Because surely your failure to show up was due to a death in the family. I’m quite positive that after I traveled across the entire country and after you promised to show up and yet you didn’t, it wasn’t because you simply were tired or forgot (especially after my 1,653 reminders) or didn’t feel like it. So again, I’m sorry for your loss.

Instead of a sympathy card, maybe I can sign my tear-stained pillow cases or pieces of my broken heart and send that to you.

I think I handled that well.

Now, then. I would like to thank Octavia Books in New Orleans — and Veronica in particular — as well as Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge — and Courtney at that store — for hosting me and making both events go swimmingly and putting me at ease.

I still get nervous at these things, often for different reasons. In New Orleans, I was worried that exactly four people would show up — Felicia, Eric, Kelsey and Kelley. And they did. Because they’re the best. But so did other people! Some high school friends I hadn’t seen in forever and even some people I didn’t even know. This was my very first reading ever in New Orleans, so I was pleased with the turnout. Here is a photo of the crowd, taken by me.


And here is a photo (taken by Veronica) of me doing god knows what. I’m not one of those people who acts out scenes or talks (a lot) with my hands. My favorite guess, from someone on Facebook: I was doing The Carlton.


In Baton Rouge, where I knew it would be mostly family and friends, I was worried someone would be like, “HEY THIS CHARACTER IS BASED ON ME AND WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?” That didn’t happen. And there were a few high school friends who showed up that I haven’t seen since the Paleozoic era. Could turnout have been better? Yes. But any reading with more than five people is a success — even for famous authors. It should also be pointed out that a) it was the most beautiful weather ever in Louisiana, so people might have been outside b) it’s college football season and c) it was the first day of squirrel-hunting season.

Here’s a photo of Nick and me. I don’t seem to be embarrassing the child. I need to work on that.


And a photo of Mama and me. (That glowing skin and bright smile I’m sporting is from three days of fried food, including chicken from Willie May’s Scotch House.)


Daddy and them were there. I can’t even remember if someone took a picture. These things are always a blur. But Daddy’s not on Facebook, so I couldn’t go steal pictures from his profile.

So that’s that. Both of those lovely stores now have signed copies on hand, so go over and buy one. And, if you’re an e-reader sort, the book is actually on e-sale at the moment for the low, low price of $1.99. (I’m not going to make any money off of that, but it’s a good opportunity for you to push it on your friends!)

Saturday May 31: Robicelli vs. Wheaton in a Literary-Cupcake Smackdown!


Okay. That is not at all what is going on Saturday at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. But it sounded like a good headline. (Also: Whatever it is, I’d lose.)

But Allison Robicelli, co-founder of Robicelli’s and co-author of Robicelli’s: A Love Story With Cupcakes, will be on a panel at the library on Saturday. And I will be on a panel as well. So please come out to Bay Ridge for the following event.

Saturday, May 31, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
7223 Ridge Blvd. at 73rd St.

Brooklyn, NY 11209

So come on out. There will be something for literary people, foodie people, history buffs, literary foodies who like history, Brooklyn people and fans of free air conditioning. A little more information.

Featuring ALLISON ROBICELLI of Robicelli’s, RAWIA BISHARA of Tanoreen Restaurant, ALLISON KAVE of Butter & Scotch, SARAH ZORN, author of Brooklyn Chef’s Table, Authors KEN WHEATON and CARA ALWILL, The L Magazine Culture Editor HENRY STEWART, and Harper-Collins Executive Editor KRISTEN PETTIT. Moderated by Folio Literary Management’s MELISSA SARVER WHITE.  With special guests Louis Coluccio Jr. from A.L.C. ITALIAN GROCERY, Katarzyna Ploszaj of Petit Oven and a surprise guest from Leske’s Bakery.

Find out more here

And afterwards, stick around and check out the neighborhood. Perhaps go to the Lockyard for some excellent hot dogs and great beer. Or get yourself some cupcakes. Or just go for a walk in one of Brooklyn’s best neighborhoods. (And if you’re a Bay Ridger reading this, leave suggestions in the comments!)


Now, am I from Bay Ridge? No. I’m from Louisiana. Do I live in Bay Ridge? Technically, no. But it has a Popeyes, Robicelli’s, a Century 21 not crawling with tourists, The Lockyard and all sorts of other things that make me wish I did. And I jog TO Bay Ridge from time to time. At any rate, hopefully no one will ask me any deeply rooted historical questions about the neighborhood.


How to Go to a Book Reading

The crowd the last time
The crowd the last time
Ahead of my April 20 reading in Lafayette, Louisiana, I thought I’d offer some ground rules for attending one of these things. After all, not everyone’s been to one. And I’m hoping since Bacon and Egg Man is my second book, I’ll get all those people from the first one and then some.

Turns out, someone has already written such a guide. Me. A few years back. So, in an effort to protect the environment, allow me to recycle.

Please, note, Louisiana people: LAST TIME I HELD A READING AT THIS LOCATION, THE SAINTS BEAT THE VIKINGS IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP THAT WEEKEND AND WENT ON TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL. I’m not saying, I’m good luck, but I AM saying one of you might win the Powerball on April 20.

Believe it or not, a reading and book signing can be as exciting as the Saints winning the Super Bowl (not really) and this may cause you to become confused. So I thought I’d make like Jersey Shore and tell you about the situation.

Basic ground rules.

BaconEggPublishedCover No shirt, no shoes, no service. (But other than that, no one cares what you wear. It’s Saturday, wear what you want.)

DON’T get together with 14 of your friends and paint the letters necessary to spell out Bacon and Egg Man on your chests.

But DO bring friends.

DO bring friends who haven’t heard of the book or haven’t bought the book. Barnes & Noble would like to sell books.

DO show up early and buy a copy from Barnes & Noble if you don’t already have one.

If you are a teacher at a local university, DO offer extra credit to your students to attend.

DON’T just take a copy off the Barnes & Noble table, have me sign it and then walk out the store. They will gang tackle you and haul you off to jail.

While I’m reading, DO pretend to be extremely fascinated. There won’t be cue cards telling you when to laugh or cry, so you’ll have to figure out the appropriate moments for such behavior.

DON’T boo or hiss.

Sometimes, there is a Q&A session after the reading. DON’T ask me about my personal life, who that one character was really based on, if I know the way to San Jose and what kind of moron came up with the crawfish etouffee recipe in the back of the last book.

DO feel free to ask questions about The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. (This is assuming that I remember to take questions this time. I was so overwhelmed by the crowd last time — and that, later that day, I was planning on telling my parents I was getting divorced — that I completely forgot!)

DON’T ask a three minute question that isn’t a question but really is just a way to show off how smart you are. I’m there to show off how smart I am, and I don’t need the competition!

While I’m signing, DO feel free to tell me the correct way to spell your name. Even if it’s Bob. You’d be surprised and how bad my spelling can be sometimes.

DON’T cut the line just because you think you know me. Chances are, most people there will know me. And my cousins from Ville Platte WILL beat you like a red-headed stepchild.

DO forward details about the event (or this email) to everyone you know.

Can’t wait to see yall.

Ken Wheaton reading and signing
Barnes & Noble, Lafayette, La.
Saturday April 20
Noon to 2 p.m.
There will be music after the signing. Feel free to stick around.

Mais! Lemme Talk to You About Cajun Cliches

Hanh? What you said?
Yall make a pass to da Housing Works Bookstore in New York City on June 5 if yall wanna listen at me talk about some Cajun Cliches and Louisiana Stereotypes.

It’s part of the Adult Education Series. The evening’s theme is “Unmasking Cliche.” I’m one of four people presenting mini lectures on various topics. And while I’m famous right here on this blog, the other three people are better known in the wider world.

We got Ruben Bolling, creator of Tom the Dancing Bug, talking about comic strips. And there’s Timothy Burke of Deadspin.com talking about motivational secrets. And also author Annia Ceizadlo, who will be talking about the secret history of Islamic wine (which sounds awesome)>

A brief description of what I’ll be hollering about.

Ken Wheaton: We Don’t All Ride Gators
New Orleans is not in Cajun country and not all Louisianans are Cajuns — despite what reality TV would have you believe. While all Louisianans talk and eat funny, they don’t all talk and eat funny the same. Wheaton explores the differences.

The event will be hosted by friend and New York native and New Orleans Saints fan (yeah, weird, I know), Charles Star.

If any of my Louisiana readers have suggestions for cliches and stereotypes to discuss, drop ’em in the comments.