Sunday, August 25, 2013

Just Rhonda

One of the most rewarding aspects of writing is meeting fans.  Beyond that, the rewards are multiplied when fans become friends.  This painting is a result of one of those friendships.  It depicts Green Bayou so unbelievably well--the whimsy of Connie and Emily's relationship, the beauty of Greenleaf, the sinister feel of the floating camp, the light-hearted feel of an afternoon gathering on the lawn.  Caroline far exceeded any preconceptions I had of what this painting should look like.  So, how did this painting come about? 

I was scheduled for a book signing/meet and greet event at one of the local library branches and Caroline Simoneaux (owner of Studio C) happened to attend.  She was bubbly and enthusiastic--that's my attempt to sound humble when what I actually mean to say is that she was super excited to meet me--and we hit it off instantly.  I struggle with finding the appropriate words to say when strangers approach me as huge fans of the series.  Though it's incredibly flattering, it's awkward because I see myself as "just Rhonda", and I hardly see where visiting with me is worth getting excited about.  But, it happens, and I'm glad it does!!!  I LOVE meeting people.  Anyway, she gave me her business card, which had a sample of her artwork on it, and I was incredibly impressed with her talent.  I asked if she would do a Green Bayou painting for me, she agreed, and it went from there.

Over the course of it all, Caroline and I began to speak more and more often.  We realized that we had a lot in common and that we got along really well.  One of my favorite days came when she called me to tell me that I came up in conversation for something non-book related, and the person she was talking to asked her how she knew me.  She told me that she completely drew a blank.  I was no longer "Rhonda the author" in her mind; I was "just Rhonda."  That made me so incredibly happy! 

Long story short, even if you're the biggest Green Bayou fan the world has ever seen, I'm just Rhonda.  I'm the farthest a person can get from snooty, arrogant, or any of those other politically correct terms for "She's a total bitch."  I couldn't believe when someone messaged me to say that she saw me in a store, but was afraid to say hello.  I'm actually kind of shy by nature, so if you see me, PLEASE come say, "hi."  I love talking about the stories, I love meeting new people, and regardless of whether we meet just that one time or we become life-long friends, I'm the type of person who will treasure the interaction always. 

Sending you lots of Green Bayou love!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mossy Oaks, Shadowlawn, and a Little Ghost Named Charlie

Shadowlawn Plantation
     I'm a total history nerd who also loves hearing, researching, and checking out stories of the paranormal.  Many of the plantations that I've been fortunate enough to tour are reportedly haunted, and some carry stories that will make your goosebumps have goosebumps!  I toured one such house a while back, however the ghost who haunts the place decided to stay quiet during my visit, and that was fine with me!
     Recently, I was able to spend time at Shadowlawn Plantation (906 Main Street, Franklin, LA) two weekends in a row.  The first weekend was spent familiarizing myself with what the place had to offer.  I'm always looking for new locations for photo shoots/ cover shoots.  I met with the very lovely and knowledgeable caretaker, Julana Senette, who gave me some incredibly interesting facts about the place.  Of all the things she mentioned, the one that stood out the most was the story of a little boy named Charlie.  Poor Charlie drowned in the Bayou Teche when he was around ten years old, and he's rumored to have remained ever since.  I enjoyed hearing of Charlie's antics, especially of how he loved people in uniform--so much so that he routinely set off alarms to get them to come visit.  Well, Charlie didn't make his presence known that day, but I thoroughly enjoyed taking in all of the beautiful sights the plantation had to offer.
     The next weekend, I can't say for sure it was Charlie, but I did notice some oddities.  For example, as soon as I walked into the room pictured below, it was as if the atmosphere suddenly changed.  I thought it was just me, but my friend noticed it, as well.  I'd been in that room several times before and never felt a thing, so it was a little eerie to all of a sudden have the change.  Also, lights flickered quite a few times and the alarm chirped (a sign that we were welcome in the house).  Not anything huge, but still interesting, nonetheless.  Julana can't say the same.  She hears Charlie all of the time.  He runs up and down the stairs, jiggles doorknobs, moves things, etc.  Despite the mischief, I believe she enjoys his antics--most of the time.
     If you'd like to experience the majesty and mystery that is Shadowlawn, please be on the lookout for the multitude of events that will soon be taking place there.  There are so many wonderful things in the works!  One of which, I'll be leading--a writer's workshop in November!!!  Shadowlawn is also available for weddings and other events.  If you'd like more information, please call (337)828-2092 or write to St. Mary Chapter Louisiana Landmarks Society, P.O. Box 400, Franklin, LA 70538.
     Enjoy the pics!!!
The Parlor
The Dining Room

The Main Staircase

Beautiful and majestic oak.

The Green Bayou Novels nestled neatly on the third shelf from the top.  They are in a building called The Tavern, which is believed to be one of the first buildings ever erected in Franklin.  It wasn't just a tavern, but a boarding place, as well.  It now functions as a gift shop and gallery for visitors.

The main entrance.

This doll totally creeped me out!

The back stairwell.

A peek up the back stairwell.

Beautiful sitting area.

Massive oak tree dripping with Spanish moss.

Beautiful front porch.

Note:  All photos are courtesy of Caroline Simoneaux.