A Good Place
Readers: How you can help.
Part of the joy of writing is working with friends and readers to improve our stories.
I need your help on the name of one character.
Curt Iles’ new novel, A Good Place, follows the story of Joe and Eliza Moore. Moving ahead ten years from their story in The Wayfaring Stranger, the new novel tells of the Moore family’s challenges during the difficult Civil War years.
Set in Louisiana’s No Man’s Land, A Good Place, is narrated by Mayo Moore, oldest child of the couple.
The theme of the book is simple yet timely: Families stick together through the storms.
Coming soon: You’ll be able to view the video book trailer for A Good Place.
To read sample chapters, scroll down.
As in all of Curt’s novels, he has collected a sound track of the songs that influenced the writing of this book.
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Lakes of Ponchartrain
Let Nature Sing
Title: A Good Place
Sub-title: Louisiana Journey Series
Trade Paperback 85,000 words
Back cover copy:
Curt Iles is a full time author/speaker who writes from his hometown of Dry Creek, Louisiana. He and his wife of twenty-eight years, DeDe, are parents of three sons and two grandsons. A popular speaker, Curt enjoys traveling, telling stories, and making new friends. His recent mission trips include Asia and Africa.
Curt’s hobbies and interests are wide and varied: They include drawing, photography, hiking, traveling, gardening, nature studies (birds, snakes, and trees), and family.
He has recently released his sixth self-published book, The Wayfaring Stranger. His previous five titles have sold a cumulative 15,000 copies. To learn more about Creekbank Stories and the writing/speaking ministry of Curt Iles, visit http://www.creekbank.net
survive the storms,
and come out stronger.
Mayo Moore is familiar with storms. Whether it is a devastating
1862 Louisiana hurricane or the creeping American Civil War,
he has seen trouble and storms up close.
In this coming of age story, Mayo, now an old man, recounts
his twelfth year of life when a series of storms swept through western
Louisiana. Whether riding out an unexpected hurricane, floating
with a load of logs down the flooded Calcasieu River, or having
a deadly encounter with Jayhawkers, Mayo’s stories are spellbinding.
However, behind the retelling of these adventures are stories of the
heart—lessons that can only be learned through difficulty, sorrow,
destruction, and loss.
The real storm in Mayo’s young life is the American Civil War.
Viewed only as a “rich man’s war” by the piney woods settlers,
the Union invasion of western Louisiana brings the war home to
the settlers and threatens to tear apart their world and family.
Through the inspiration of his parents, the Irishman Joe Moore
and his Indian wife Eliza, Mayo learns of the strength found in
family, faith, and the woods.
In the warm and humorous story-telling style loved by his readers,
author Curt Iles takes readers into Mayo Moore’s world—into this
good place to be—the wild and untamed piney woods of Louisiana’s
No Man’s Land.
If you have any ideas for the front cover, send an e-mail.
Tentative release date: Fall 2009 or beyond
To learn more: Stay tuned to http://www.creekbank.net
A Good Place
by Curt Iles
“Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood,
And I don’t care that the money’s no good.
You take what you need and leave the rest,
But they should never have taken the very best.”
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
When Daddy shoved me under our kitchen table, I knew this wasn’t just any storm—it had to be a hurricane.
As the crow flies, our Louisiana log cabin was about a hundred miles from the Gulf of Mexico. When this day quietly began, we had no idea a hurricane was churning ashore. However, here we were, less than twelve hours later, riding it out under the table in the dark.
Watching Momma vainly trying to keep the lantern lit, a knot of fear as big as a turnip grew in my stomach, and when I swallowed, it lodged in my throat.
Giving up on the lantern, she turned to Daddy. “This ain’t no normal August thunderstorm. Do you think . . .?”
It was as if she couldn’t—or wouldn’t—say the word. In her eyes was something I’d never seen—a look of raw fear. Her trembling hand on my knee reinforced the depth of this fear. Momma’s obvious alarm moved Daddy into action as he said, “This has got to be a hurricane.” Crawling from under the table, he said to her, “Eliza, get the windows covered best you can.” Then he grabbed me, “Mayo, come with me, and we’ll get the animals in.”
On that August day in 1862, I was only twelve and didn’t have enough sense to realize the danger outside, so I eagerly joined him, ready to venture out into the storm.
As soon as we cleared the lee of the house, the wind whipped us, tearing Daddy’s hat right off his head. He didn’t even look back, but ran on toward the barn, the lightning outlining his silhouette with each strike. Reaching the building, he pushed me inside. “Pen the animals. Put hay in their troughs.”
He hurried out, leaving me in the building’s darkness with only the whimpering animals. I tried calming them—something I’m normally good at—but it was futile. I found our horse, Dallas, and stroked his mane. He was shaking just like Momma, maybe like me, sensing something evil was blowing in the wind.
Daddy stuck his head in, “Hurry, it ain’t safe. Let’s git.” Hunkered down, we ran by our outbuildings, stopping only to bolt the smokehouse and the adjacent kitchen.
I stood under the covered walkway that connected our kitchen and house, holding onto a post. With my other hand, I covered my head as debris whizzed by.
A flying object hit Daddy square in the back. He stumbled before turning to me. “Whoa. Let’s go.” Scampering onto the porch, I heard the first tree fall, shaking both the house and my heart.
As we went through the door, my leopard cur dog, Bo, brushed past and went straight under the table with my mother and sister. Momma, who was in the family way, squatted on the dirt floor, still fiddling with the lantern.
“There ain’t no use fooling with that.” Daddy said. “There’s too much wind blowing through the cracks for it to stay lit.”
Holding out the cypress shingle that’d struck him in the back, he knelt by Momma. Grimacing and rubbing his back, he handed it to her. “It’s bad out there.”
I glanced up at our roof, wondering if it’d hold together.
“Honey, are—are you all right?” She asked.
Before he could answer, another crashing tree jarred our house and my younger sister Colleen cried, “Daddy, wh—what’s happening? Is this the war?”
Colleen, half my age, had an ongoing fear that the War Between the States would come and kill us all. From the stories she’d heard, she was sure its cannons had finally reached our area of western Louisiana.
Another crashing tree, this one even closer, caused her to scream. “It’s a big gun.”
“No, child that was a tree falling.” Momma said as she turned to watch Daddy, who was at the window peering out. My eyes were on him too, and I knew one thing: my father would get us through this.
“Eliza, kids, listen to me.”
With the shrieking wind and flying objects striking the house, we leaned closer, our ears and hearts focused on him.
When Daddy spoke, his voice drowned out all of those noises. “Now, this has gotta be a hurricane. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but we’re gonna be all right ’cause we’re together. We’ll trust the Lord to get us through this. This may’ve caught us flat-footed, but we’ll git through it together.”
We’ll get through it together. That was all I needed to hear.
“Daddy, is our house gonna blow away?” Colleen asked.
Before he could answer, Momma pulled my sister into her arms, “Baby, this house was built ‘horse high, bull tough, and pig tight,’ by your daddy, and will stand up to anything any storm throws at it.”
Colleen nervously burst out giggling at Momma’s saying, and that caused us all to laugh in spite of our predicament.
However, Momma’s smile soon faltered and faded as the storm continued. “I feel—I feel so helpless.” She pulled Colleen closer to her and they both began crying.
Daddy repeated. “We’ll get through this together. Together, we can do it.”
And I knew he was right. .
Sitting under the table as the wind roared, it was hard to believe this day had started so quietly.
Looking back over it, we missed several obvious omens.
It began early that morning when Daddy met me at the barn and said, “Listen.”
“It’s too quiet. Not even the crickets are chirping.”
Later as daylight appeared, he nodded toward the rising sun. “Chomh deargle le fuil: Red as blood. Look at it—where I grew up along the Irish coast, the sailors said, ‘Red sun at night—sailor’s delight. Red sun at mornin’—sailor take warnin.’”
Shrugging his shoulders as he sniffed the air, he added, “It even smells funny. Gives me the doggone willies.”
As we returned to the house for breakfast, I’d noticed Bo under the steps. He wouldn’t come out even when I whistled and hollered, “Hunt ‘em up, Bo.”
By midday, the morning’s clear weather was long gone—replaced by dark clouds rushing northward, followed by bands of wind-driven rain. Darkness came early, and then the storm really cut loose, driving the rain through the cracks around the door and in the walls.
Here we were, after a clear sunrise and promising day, four of us huddled under the table with a terrified dog, all fearful that our whole life was being blown away.
From time to time, Daddy crawled out and checked at the window. Watching him there, the flashes of lightning revealed the lines of worry on his face.
Daddy had come to Louisiana’s “No Man’s Land,” fourteen years ago as a lonely Irish teenager. Here he’d met and married my mother, who was part Indian, and made these piney woods his home. He loved its clear creeks, tall trees, and the freedom it offered—and ‘til the day he died, called it “A good place to be.”
Watching him, I wondered, I doubt if he thinks of it as a good place right now. Another crash outside jolted the house and he said, “Hey. There went another tree.”
“Joe, get back under here with us.” Momma said and he obeyed, scampering back under.
It wasn’t ten seconds later that a huge tree smashed through the cabin wall. As wood splintered and contents of the shelves crashed to the floor, we hunkered down together under the table.
“Lord, have mercy. It’s the end of the world.” Momma said.
Reaching out in the dark, I grasped a tree limb, and thought, It may not be the end of the world, but it’s gonna be a long night.
We’ll be adding chapters and sections as time goes on. Your comments and input are always welcome.