Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: 'The Last Suppers'

Mandy Mikulencak, author of award-winning young-adult and adult fiction, sets her latest novel in 1950s Louisiana.

Here’s the book description:

“The Last Suppers” evokes both “The Help” and “Dead Man Walking” with the story of an unforgettable woman whose quest to provide meals for death row prisoners leads her into the secrets of her own past.

Many children have grown up in the shadow of Louisiana’s Greenmount State Penitentiary. Most of them—sons and daughters of corrections officers and staff—left the place as soon as they could. Yet Ginny Polk chose to come back to work as a prison cook. She knows the harsh reality of life within those walls—the cries of men being beaten, the lines of shuffling inmates chained together. Yet she has never seen them as monsters, not even the ones sentenced to execution. That’s why, among her duties, Ginny has taken on a special responsibility: preparing their last meals.

Pot roast or red beans and rice, coconut cake with seven-minute frosting or pork neck stew . . . whatever the men ask for Ginny prepares, even meeting with their heartbroken relatives to get each recipe just right. It’s her way of honoring their humanity, showing some compassion in their final hours. The prison board frowns upon the ritual, as does Roscoe Simms, Greenmount’s Warden. Her daddy’s best friend before he was murdered, Roscoe has always watched out for Ginny, and their friendship has evolved into something deep and unexpected. But when Ginny stumbles upon information about the man executed for killing her father, it leads to a series of dark and painful revelations.

Truth, justice, mercy—none of these are as simple as Ginny once believed. And the most shocking crimes may not be the ones committed out of anger or greed, but the sacrifices we make for love.

New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs says this of the novel: “A gorgeous novel that finds beauty in the most unlikely of places.”


Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Havilah Malone to offer motivational talk, and other Louisiana literary events happening this week


In celebration of Black History Month and the achievements and wisdom from members of the African American community, the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana welcomes author, speaker, and reigning Ms. Louisiana Universal, Havilah Malone, who will present her motivational seminar, “Take The Leap: Turning Pain Into Purpose," at noon Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the State Library’s Seminar Center, 701 North 4th St. in Baton Rouge. 

During the interactive presentation, attendees will learn tools and strategies to make the most of their new year and will discover:
·      The price of perfection that leads to one of the top five regrets in the world.
·      How limiting beliefs and unconscious pain manifests in our lives.
·      Five steps to win in life and how to overcome whatever is blocking your success.

Malone is the co-author of “The Amazing Adventures of Oliver Hill: 17 Short Stories Based on the Principles of Success by Think and Grow Rich Author Napoleon Hill” and author of “How to Become a Publicity Magnet in Any Market via TV, Radio & Print” and the soon to be released book series “Xena’s Tales: 21 Pillars of Self-Mastery and Success.” The Louisiana native has been featured on FOX, CBS, NBC, the Huffington Post, and more. Malone recently guest starred on CBS’s hit TV show “NCIS: New Orleans.”

The presentation is free and open to the public, and attendees are welcome to bring a “brown bag” lunch. Registration is not required. Books will be available for purchase from the author.

Other literary happenings this week include:

Author Discussion
Clay Delery, author of “Out for Queer Blood: The Murder of Fernando Rios and the Failure of New Orleans Justice,” will discuss the book at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie. This event is free and open to the public.


On a September night in 1958, three New Orleans college students went looking for a gay man to assault. They chose Fernando Rios, who died from the beating. In perhaps the earliest example of the "gay panic" defense, the three defendants argued that they had no choice but to beat Rios because he had made an "improper advance." When the jury acquitted the three, the courtroom cheered. The author offers a detailed examination of the murder and the trial.

Delery, a retired teacher from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, previously published “The Up Stairs Lounge Arson,” which was named Book of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2015. He lives in New Orleans.

Lafayette Reads Together
The Crossover: Book Discussion examines Kwame Alexander’s “The Crossover” which won the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award for children’s literature at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at South Regional Library, and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the Main Library in downtown Lafayette.

The Lafayette Library presents the film “More Than a Game” (PG, 2008, 105 minutes), which follows future NBA superstar LeBron James and four of his teammates as they dominate youth basketball in Ohio. The screening begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at the North Regional Library and at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at East Regional Library, both in Lafayette.



Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Robicheaux returns in James Lee Burke's latest

Detective Dave Robicheaux, the ongoing character in James Lee Burke’s novels set mostly in Louisiana, remains a man no one can kill, not even from his own hand when his dormant alcoholism rears its ugly head. I’ve been reading Burke’s novels for years now and am always wondering if Robicheaux has met his fate and will be gone to us forever.

To our relief, he always returns.

Burke’s latest in the series, aptly titled “Robicheaux,” has our New Iberia native struggling after the death of his beloved wife, Molly, in a car accident. He confronts the man who slammed into her and, after a blackout following a drunken relapse, that man is found murdered. While Robicheaux wonders if he committed the act and works to clear his name, there are other pressing matters, including a psychopath named Tony Squid who wants to get into the business of making movies; a novelist whose wife cheats on him and accuses the other man of rape; and an abusive father who's horribly killed. Add to the mix Robicheaux’s best friend Clete, who’s got troubles of his own, and his daughter Alafair, who wants to adapt one of the novelist’s books and you’ve got prime Burke storytelling.

Read the Dave Robicheaux novels for the dark and intriguing plotlines but savor the incredible descriptions that pour from Burke’s pen. For instance:

“I love the rain, whether it’s a tropical one or one that falls on you in the dead of winter. For me, rain is the natural world’s absolution, like the story of the Flood and new beginnings and loading the animals two by two onto the Ark. I love the mist hanging in the trees, a hint of wraiths that would not let heavy stones weigh them down in their graves, the raindrops clicking on the lily pads, the fish rising as though in celebration.”


I don’t know how many more Robicheaux stories are in my future, but let’s hope the detective who has danger constantly nipping at his heels stays alive for a few more years.


Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: Mardi Gras, Mississippi Ghosts

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

If you're in Louisiana, you probably won't be spending much time reading today. But if you want to get in the Mardi Gras spirit without heading out to the crowds, or you live in some sad place where Mardi Gras doesn't occur (my sympathies), check out my "Carnival Confessions" novella.

Click here for links to the novella at all online bookstores.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, publication day for my latest Viola Valentine paranormal mystery, "Trace of a Ghost."

The third book in the series, "Trace of a Ghost" has travel writer and ghost sleuth Viola Valentine treking down the historic Natchez Trace of Mississippi. Traveling with her is an adventurous heiress who’s been dead since 1860 and a living fellow travel writer who’s not what he seems. 

In the end, it’s a showdown between good and evil, and a bargain made with the devil at the crossroads may be Viola’s final undoing.

Want to buy the book? Click here for links to "Trace of a Ghost" at all online bookstores. 

For my day job, I'm a travel writer so I visited the places that Viola visits in my series. Want to see where I got the inspiration for this book and others? Check out my Pinterest board here. You can also read more about the stories behind my stories on my website's blog at https://www.cherieclaire.net/my-louisiana-home.



Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Writers and Readers Symposium Feb. 17

The Writers and Readers Symposium will be Saturday, Feb. 17, at Hemingbough in St. Francisville and will include poet Catharine Savage Brosman, art writer John R. Kemp, award-winning thriller novelist Michael Rubin, critically acclaimed author Genaro Ky Ly Smith and New York Times best-selling author M.O. Walsh. Ernest J. Gaines will also be on hand to discuss his new book The Tragedy of Brady Sims. 

Registration is from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., with authors discussing their writing and creative processes until noon. After lunch, presentations will continue until approximately 3:30 p.m. Conundrum Books and Puzzles in St. Francisville will have copies of the authors' books on site for sale and the authors will autograph them and chat with participants.

Genaro Ky Ly Smith
A Novel Image Art Show will be held in conjunction with the symposium and include photographs, paintings and sculptures related to writing and literature. The audience will pick their favorite works of art, and awards will be given to the first-, second- and third-place winners.

Tickets are $55 in advance, $65 the day of the symposium. For information, visit here.

In addition to the symposium, Smith will lead a Writers Retreat for fiction and nonfiction authors from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at Greenwood Plantation near St. Francisville. He will critique work as well as make assignments for participants during the workshop. Admission price is $200 and rooms are available at Greenwood. Smith’s books include “Lý Loc and His Seven Wives,” “The Land Baron's Sun,” and “The Land South of the Clouds.” Writing in both poetry and prose, Smith earned an M.F.A. degree from McNeese and presently teaches writing at Louisiana Tech. Born in Vietnam, Smith, who is half black and half Vietnamese, has written books that reflect his cultural history. He won first place in the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Fellowship competition, along with many other awards. For information, call Missy Couhig at (504) 427-0421.

Tickets for both events are available here.



Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.





Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Award-winning Colleen Thompson to offer one-day novel writing workshop March 24 in Shreveport


The North Louisiana Storytellers and Authors of Romance presents a one-day novel writing workshop with award-winning author Colleen Thompson on March 24 at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Shreveport.

A former teacher and prolific speaker on the craft of writing, Colleen is the twice-RITA-nominated author of 28 books, from the fast-paced romantic thrillers she has written for Montlake, Harlequin and Dorchester Publishing to the action-packed historical romances she wrote as Gwyneth Atlee for Kensington. Other honors include the National Readers’ Choice Award, multiple Romantic Times’ Top Picks, KISS Awards and a Reviewer’s Choice Award, Publisher’s Weekly starred review, and appearances on the Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookscan and Waldenbooks bestseller lists. Recent titles include “The Off Season,” “The Best Victim” (both from Montlake) and “Lone Star Redemption” from Harlequin Romantic Suspense.


Colleen, her husband, and their rescue dog split their time between suburban Houston and their Texas Hill Country cabin, where they enjoy hiking, watching wildlife and relaxing on hot days in the Frio River.

Discounted rates of $35 for members, $55 for non-members apply if purchased before Feb. 14. The morning session will focus on how to emotionally engage readers from the first page and the afternoon session will be a plotting workshop. For more information, click here.

trace of a ghost


Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.