Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cookbook Thursday: For the love of corn

Looking for a great Fourth of July recipe? How about a cookbook proclaiming our love for all things maise? “I Love Corn” by Lisa Skye is a small book full of recipes from roasted corn wontons and fresh corn gazpacho (most great items to include in a summer picnic) to more elaborate entrées such as roasted duckling with mustard greens and sweet corn pudding. The recipes hail from chefs Daniel Boulud, Pichet Ong, Dan Barber and Martha Stewart, to name a few.

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salad
6 medium-size ears fresh corn, boiled or roasted (about 4 1/2 cups)
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely
1 scallion, sliced on the rings, chopped on the greens
1 tablespoon green olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of 2 lemons (or limes, or one of each)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Slice the corn kennels off the cobs into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to mix. Season to taste with the salt and pepper, and serve. If you like heat, substitute minced jalapeno peppers for the scallion, or add some of your favorite hot sauce for a kick. You can also add chopped clinatro for extra flavor.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lineup for National Book Festival announced

The Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden recently announced the authors who will be appearing on the Main Stage at the 2017 National Book Festival on Sept. 2, 2017, in Washington, DC.  The lineup includes David McCullough, Diana Gabaldon, J. D. Vance, Tom Friedman, Condoleezza Rice and David Baldacci.
Joined by The Washington Post’s book editor Ron Charles, Hayden talked about the authors and shared some festival updates before a live audience, including the news that all of the Main Stage author presentations will be shown live on Facebook the day of the festival.  
Below is a link to the video:
More information about the National Book Festival can be found at .

The above information was provided in a press release by the Library of Congress.

Four authors to talk about their new children’s books

Note: This event was cancelled due to Tropical Storm Cindy but will be rescheduled.

Four New Orleans authors who have written children’s books will discuss them and talk about the unique process of creating children’s literature at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 21, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie. This event is free and open to the public and registration isn’t necessary.

The authors are: 
Kathy Schrenk, “A Dog Steals Home”
Zach Stewart’s life has never been more complicated. Between preparing for the arrival of his baby brother (“the little lizard”) and keeping up with the baseball team, Zach can hardly catch his breath. All he really wants is to adopt a puppy, but his parents insist that the timing isn’t right. In order to prove that he’s responsible, Zach decides to do his final research project on the animal shelter. Zach is sure that he’ll not only get the dog he wants but also prove to his team that he’s the best choice for pitcher. Everything is going perfectly—until Audrey, a girl in his class with a tragic past, disappears without a trace. Zach knows he is the only one who can find Audrey and convince her to come home. He might have to put his new puppy and his baseball career on the line—but he might hit a home run anyway.

New Orleans native Kathleen Schrenk has been pursuing her passion for volunteering since 2001. She received her bachelor’s degree in speech and language pathology from Louisiana State University and went on to work as a speech therapist and classroom teacher. Following Hurricane Katrina, Schrenk worked actively with volunteer groups to replant marsh grass in City Park and to restore sand dunes on the coast. A founding member of NOLA City Bark dog park, Schrenk also serves on the Louisiana SPCA board and is a member of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators.

Dalt Wonk, “The Laughing Lady”
“The Laughing Lady” is the fantasy villain in this children’s book. She lives in the Fun House with her fiancé, Boss Bones, a dapper (and greedy) skeleton. Florence, the little girl who is the hero of the tale enters the Fun House to save her pet Cockatoo, after the Laughing Lady steals it.
Florence, whose real father died several years ago, has a problem. Her mother wants to marry a rich man that Florence hates. Amid many adventures, Florence and her friends (including a shy skyrocket) discovers the answer to her real life problem. The book is accompanied by full-color illustrations.

Dalt Wonk was born in New Jersey in 1942. He attended Bard College, where he graduated with a B. A. After living a decade in France and England, he set sail on a cargo ship for New Orleans, where he has lived ever since. Wonk is a poet, a playwright and an illustrator. His plays have been produced in New York, London, Munich, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and New Orleans. His musical collaborators in theater have included Charles Neville (of the Neville Brothers), Julius Hemphill (of the World Saxophone Quartet) and Alvin Batiste, the late New Orleans Jazz composer.

Del-Rio Gardner, “A Promise Fulfilled”
Each day, Azyria prays for God to use her as a blessing. She feels that she is too young to make a big difference, but she knows God's grace reaches a lot farther than she can. Mrs. Jay recognizes God using the unlikely incidents to bless his people, so she prays for a small reminder that God loves her. When Azyria's kind deeds inspire others in the community to do the same, everyone is blessed, and Mrs. Jay realizes that a promise has been fulfilled.

Del-Rio Gardner is the owner of Divine Intervention Publishing located in Kenner. She says her goal is to write children’s books that will inspire children to love their community, to bring about change in the world. Gardner has a series of books coming out: Storytime with Jazzy the Giraffe and the Crew. The first book of the series is titled The Story of Creation and is told by Jazzy and her friends. This book also contains a bonus story titled Beauty and the Butterfly.  

Vernon Smith, “The Littlest Streetcar” 
Small and clunky, sandy and dull, Charlie is the smallest streetcar on the tracks in New Orleans. All the other cars are big, bright, shiny, and popular, and they leave sad little Charlie behind. They have jobs to do and they are much more important than the dusty, squatty car—or are they? When calamities strike, it’s Charlie who stands tall and finds his purpose. As he overcomes obstacles and fixes things, his confidence soars and Charlie realizes that he is an important part of the streetcar family. Being different makes him special.

Louisiana author and illustrator Vernon Smith based this story on the oldest New Orleans streetcar, NORTA 29. Built in 1896 and the last of the FB&D cars in existence, NORTA 29 is still in use today, traveling the tracks making sure the bigger cars can run safely. A graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Smith received a BFA from the University of New Orleans. He provides marketing artwork for businesses in both independent and corporate arenas through his studio, MacFearsome Comic Squares. Smith’s work is featured on and He has worked on several comic-book series, including his own “The Adventures of Dexter Breakfast” and the successfully crowdfunded Hide.

For more information regarding this presentation, contact Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the library, at 504-889-8143

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Genealogist and historian Randall Ladnier examines early Louisiana colonists in 'The Brides of La Baleine'

In 1720, 88 young French women ages 12 to 30 volunteered to travel to the Louisiana colony to become brides for the soldiers, sailors and settlers in Biloxi. In August, they left the Salpetriere General Hospital in Paris on board the ship La Baleine and arrived in what is now the Mississippi Gulf Coast in January 1721. The women were labeled “casket girls” because of the small wooden chests they carried containing clothes for their voyage. In the year of their arrival, 60 of the women were married in Biloxi.

Historian and genealogist Randall Ladnier has researched these pioneering women and written their history in a new book, “The Brides of La Baleine.” From these marriages are many of today’s families living in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast.

“The great majority of descendants from these girls possess surnames found mostly in South Louisiana,” Ladnier wrote me by email. “For example, Pierre Prudhomme married one of the brides and, although the couple only had four children, his tree of descendants now contains more than 700 different surnames. I think it would be difficult to come up with a South Louisiana surname which is not included in my book.”

In addition to information about the women raised at the Salpetriere General Hospital, which Ladnier calls “a combination of a convent and a concentration camp,” he details their backgrounds, their journey and their offsprings, including a handy genealogical index in the back.

Ladnier and I met when he was passing through Lafayette and he is passionate about both his book and the subject matter, insisting that these women who helped populate the Louisiana colony are grossly overlooked and misrepresented. He hopes proceeds from the book, plus grants and donations, will help start either a museum or a monument in their honor.

History lovers and genealogists alike may enjoy this book. Learn more at Ladnier’s website, To purchase the book for $25 or download the PDF for $15, visit

Pinckley Prizes
Louise Penny and Trudy Nan Boyce are the recipients of the 2017 Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction, sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans. The prizes honoring two women writers will be presented Sept. 8 at The Academy of the Sacred Heart/Nims Fine Arts Center, 4301 St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans. The ticketed event is open to the public. Winners receive both $2,500 and a trip to New Orleans to accept their prize. The Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction was created in 2012 to honor the memory of Diana Pinckley, a crime fiction columnist for The New Orleans Times-Picayune and her passion for mysteries.

Mystery festival
Five local authors or criminal activity experts will make presentations at the third annual Jefferson Parish Library Mystery Readers/Writers Literary Festival on  Saturday at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave. in Metairie. The keynote speaker will be New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler, who will open the event at 9:30 a.m. Spindler’s novel “Bone Cold” won the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence and she received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels “Forbidden Fruit” and “Dead Run.” Spindler is a three-time RITA Award finalist and Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel “Shocking Pink” a Listen Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998. The event geared toward readers and writers of mysteries is free and open to the public, no registration necessary.

Other presentations include:
10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m., “The Wheels of Justice” with Sal Perricone, a member of law enforcement for nearly 40 years and author of the Crescent Criminality series.
Noon to 1:15 p.m., “High Speed Car Chases” with Jeff Blue, a former police officer and now an attorney, who will discuss the reality of police pursuits based on his personal experiences.
2 p.m.-3:15 p.m., “Hard Roll, A Paramedic’s Perspective of Life and Death in New Orleans” with Jon McCarty, an emergency medic and co-creator of the New Orleans EMS Field Training Officer program.
3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., “Master Class for Authors – Pacing for the Thriller or Mystery” with Bill Loehfelm, author of the critically acclaimed Devil series about New Orleans Police Department rookie Maureen Coughlin. He is also the author of the stand-alone novels, “Fresh Kills” and “Bloodroot,” set in his hometown of Staten Island.

The JPL Mystery Writers/Readers Festival is supported by the New Orleans chapter of Sisters in Crime and the Southern Louisiana Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. For more information, contact Chris Smith, manager of Adult Programming for the library, at (504) 889-8143 or write

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: Blake's 'Guarded Heart'

Book 4 of Jennifer Blake’s “Masters at Arms” series, featuring “the notorious swordsmen of New Orleans--charming by day, dangerous at night,” is now free to download as an ebook.

Here’s the book description of "Guarded Heart":

The last thing Gavin Blackford expects from an alluring and sophisticated lady at a New Year’s reception is a request to teach her how to kill a man. As a respected fencing master and duelist of renown, his usual clients are male. To refuse is his first impulse—but his curiosity is aroused by her unsettling combination of mystery and fiery intentions.

Ariadne Faucher never expected Gavin to be armored with intelligence and intuition as well as strength. It can’t be allowed to matter. All she requires it to get close to him to touch—preferably with the point of a sword.

Their lessons by candlelight are physically and emotionally intense, an escalating duel of hearts and minds. As tempers and passions rise, they draw ever nearer to the secret that has brought them together. But must it be a fight to the death—or can they turn and face their common enemy together?

Want more? Here are the other books in Blake's best-selling series:


Jennifer Blake of Louisiana has been called "the steel magnolia of women's fiction" for her enduring career as an author. She has also been lauded as a "pioneer of the romance genre" and an "icon of the romance industry." A New York Times and international best-selling author from the publication of "Love's Wild Desire" in 1977, she is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, member of the RWA and Affaire de Coeur Halls of Fame, and recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement Rita. She holds numerous other honors, including two Maggies, two Holt Medallions, multiple Reviewer's Choice awards, the Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine, and the Frank Waters Award for literary excellence. She has written more than 75 books with translations in 22 languages and more than 35 million copies in print.

After three decades in traditional publishing, Jennifer established Steel Magnolia Press LLC with Phoenix Sullivan in 2011. This independent publishing company now publishes her work.

I borrowed all that from her Amazon author description but let me add, she’s a lovely person and oh, so very talented.

Louisiana Book News is written by journalist Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. The first two books in her award-winning series are FREE as ebooks! For more information and to sign up for her newsletter visit


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Three Louisiana authors inspire with new books

Coach DJ Davis, a native of West Monroe, lettered in football at West Monroe High and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. His debut book, “Just Run The Play: A Playbook for Playmakers,” tells the story of his quest to become a middle school teacher and football coach despite challenges in his personal and career life. Davis has been teaching in the Ouachita Parish Schools for five years and has also founded the Just Run the Play Company, linking life and biblical examples to football plays in his book and through motivational speeches. His “summer tour” will include stops June 17 in Shreveport, June 24 in Baton Rouge, June 30-July 3 in New Orleans, July 15 in Dallas and July 22 in Sterlington. For more information, visit

Want more motivation?

Lafayette entrepreneur Frankie Russo has an astonishing resume: recording artist, mortgage broker and founder and CEO of Potenza advertising agency. He shares his success strategies, including rising from failure, in “The Art of Why,” explaining that business pioneers have a purpose — a why — which fuels their passion. Russo’s book is meant to be a road map for readers who look to find their own “why” in life. It comes with exercises, chapters that discuss making a plan, building a team, turning failure into opportunities and adapting, among much more.

Vincent Miholic is a founding administrator at South Louisiana Community college, taught at Southeastern and is now a training and development program manager for the state. He’s written “Bridging EngagementGaps: An Essential Resource Guide to Strengthen Workplace Engagement.” “The book explores the behaviors and actions that contribute to promoting optimal profit or service and examines the complex relationship that are directly tied to the generative and intrinsic patterns that create energy and satisfying fun, flow, passion and joy in work,” Miholic writes.

Pelican Publishing has re-released two popular Louisiana cookbooks. “The Buster Holmes Restaurant Cookbook: New Orleans Handmade Cookin’” features the Creole recipes of Holmes, who owned and operated his restaurant at 721 Burgundy St. for five decades. Food writer Poppy Tooker writes the foreword. In its fifth printing is “Justin Wilson Looking Back: A Cajun Cookbook,” filled with stories, photos and recipes from the storyteller and humorist. This cookbook was his final retrospective.

Book news
“A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole, Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” and Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” have been included in The Library of Congress’s “America Reads,” an exhibition showcasing 65 books—chosen by the public—that had a profound effect on American life. “America Reads” exhibition opens Friday at the Library of Congress.

And speaking of those representing Louisiana at the Library of Congress, Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil will perform a “Cajun Music from Louisiana” program at noon June 28 in the library’s Coolidge Auditorium. The event is part of the library’s Homegrown 2017 Concerts in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowships. 
At the library 
Local children’s book writers and illustrators will be on hand for the Creating Books for Children panel discussion Monday at the South Regional Library in Lafayette. Book sales and signings will follow the panel discussion and refreshments will be served. The discussion is sponsored by the Acadiana Group of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

It’s Family Movie Day beginning at 1 p.m. Friday at the West Ouachita Branch Library. Friday’s movie is “Big Hero Six,” appropriate for all ages. Visit for more information.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: Rochon's 'Trust Me'

Trust doesn't always come easy. Just ask best-selling romance author Farrah Rochon

Rochon is the author of "Trust Me," book five in The Holmes Brothers series. Here's the book's description:

As the maverick of the New Orleans City Council, Mackenna Arnold has spent the last four years dismantling the council’s “politics as usual” mentality. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Mack now has her sights set on an even bigger prize: the mayor’s office. But only when the time is right. And only if she can get the pesky freelance journalist hell-bent on investigating her for corruption—who just so happens to be one of the sexiest men alive and her best friend’s younger brother—off her back. But when Mack suspects that her longtime mentor and the city’s current mayor is up to no good, she must convince Ezra Holmes to help her investigate the mayor’s office. 

Ezra can admit to having had a thing for Mackenna in his younger days, even though she barely knew his name back then. But his past feelings for Mack have nothing to do with why he’s so committed to exposing her. He suspects she’s used her influence as a public official to cut private deals, and breaking this corruption story would be just the thing to jumpstart his fading career. But what is Ezra supposed to do when he discovers Mack isn’t the one who’s a crooked politician? There’s only one thing he can do: join forces with the woman he’s been crazy about for far too long. 

"Trust Me" and the other books in the series are available at all online bookstores. Check out Farrah's website for links. 

Louisiana Book News is written by journalist Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. The first two books in her award-winning series are FREE as ebooks! For more information and to sign up for her newsletter visit