“The Dust Bowl” Preview Night

November 15, 2012 § 5 Comments

November 2, 2012

“Two midnights in a jug.” –Dust Bowl Survivor’s description of Black Sunday.

New Mexico PBS hosted a preview night of Ken Burns’ upcoming documentary The Dust Bowl at the African American Performing Arts Center on November 2, 2012. After the screening, Gene Grant of New Mexico In Focus moderated a Q&A with co-producer Julie Dunfey and two Dust Bowl survivors, Sam Arguello and Robert “Boots” McCoy. Both men told their boyhood accounts of the horrific dust storm on April 14, 1935, now referred to as Black Sunday.

After the session, moderator Gene Grant said to me and my friend Dia, “I’m still shaking from those Black Sunday stories.”

I woke up the next morning with vivid images of fire and dust in my head. What is it about oral storytelling that is so powerful? It’s primordial, like sitting around the campfire recalling the day’s adventures of peril.

Moderator Gene Grant and Me at The Dust Bowl preview night.

“It was the end of the world.” Sam Arguello, a native New Mexican, said he was outside the house in the front yard when he saw the black dust cloud coming in from the east. He called to his friends who were inside the house. By the time they came to the doorway, he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. The dust storm lasted three hours, and when it moved to the west, it looked like a wall of red fire.

Robert McCoy and his sister were leaving church when the storm came. They couldn’t see the steps they stood on. McCoy’s sister, whom he called his “best buddy,” ended up dying from dust pneumonia. McCoy said he had to be dragged to her funeral because he couldn’t accept that she was dead.

Dia and Gene at The Dust Bowl preview night.

“It’s a parable about our relationship to the land that sustains us.” —Julie Dunfey, Co-Producer, The Dust Bowl

After the Q&A,  Dia and I ambushed approached co-producer Julie Dunfey as she came down off the stage. Dia, co-owner of Cheza Jouer Films, asked Julie how their team found funding for their project. Julie said it is much harder to get funding since the ’08 recession, and that it seems Ken Burns spends more time fundraising than filmmaking. If you are passionate about your project and approach people with that passion, though, the funding will come through.

Me and Dia with The Dust Bowl co-producer Julie Dunfey (middle).

I asked Julie what she thinks the common thread is between Ken Burns’ projects, since his films range so widely in subject matter. She replied, “He always looks for what it means to be an American.”

Will you be watching? Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl premieres on PBS November 18 and 19, 2012, 8:00–10:00 p.m. ET. Check your local PBS station schedule.

“Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet” Book Launch Was a Party at Bookworks

November 4, 2012 § 9 Comments

The book launch party for Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones was held at Bookworks on October 30, 2012, the day before Halloween. So totally fitting.

Darynda (wearing the hat) signed with fellow New Mexico authors Gabi Stevens and Katie Lane. Katie brought the hat.

The three authors took turns reading from their books. Katie Lane read the first few pages of her debut novel Going Cowboy Crazy.

“What kind of a brute owned it, anyway? Obviously, the kind who thought it went with his large pe—”

Katie stopped reading. “Are there any kids in here?”

The audience erupted with laughter.

“You don’t have to buy my books, but you do have to come up and touch them,” Katie said, referring to the model on the cover with his shirt hanging open. My advice—buy the book, too. It is every bit as enjoyable as looking at the hot cowboy. (Read my review here.)

Me with contemporary romance author Katie Lane.

Fantasy romance author Gabi Stevens said she acted before she wrote. Strike a pose, girl!

Gabi’s spirited reading from her latest book, Wishful Thinking, inspired me to pick up the first book in her Time of Transition trilogy, The Wish List.

Gabi shows how a bracelet she has owned forever matches the one worn by the heroine on the cover of her first book. This was not planned. This is magic.

Darynda Jones is a born storyteller. As a kid, she used to go around her neighborhood, knocking on doors and inviting people to come to her plays.

Katie Lane said she loved rooming with Darynda at an RWA conference because Darynda told bedtime stories and lulled Katie into sweet dreams.

I am really excited to start reading Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet. This is Darynda’s follow-up in the Charley Davidson series to Third Grave Dead Ahead, which was phenomenal. Read my Third Grave review here.

Thank you, Bookworks of Albuquerque, for throwing this launch party. It was a blast!

From left to right: Darynda Jones, Gabi Stevens, and Katie Lane.

The Fun of Buying from Your Indie Bookseller

November 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

Sure, it’s easy to order stuff off of Amazon, but where’s the fun in that? When you go to an indie bookseller, you get to ask the attractive man in glasses to help you find all the books on your list. Then you get to come back to pick up your special order from another attractive man in glasses and ask him to take a picture of you with the book to send to your blogger buddy. He does so with a smile.

Me at Page One Books, buying Under the Desert Moon by Emma Meade. Hi, Emma!

Check out some recent articles for the love of independent bookstores.

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