Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Journalist Ron Thibodeaux examines impact of hurricanes Rita, Ike

Originally published in the Acadiana Gazette

            The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press has just released “Hell or High Water: How Cajun Fortitude Withstood Hurricanes Rita and Ike” by Times-Picayune reporter Ron Thibodeaux of New Orleans. The book is illustrated by Times-Picayune photographers with a foreword by James Carville.
            Question: What inspired you to write this book?
            Answer: When Hurricane Rita struck the entire gulf coast of South Louisiana in September 2005, I was struck by the lack of attention it received. This was just weeks after Hurricane Katrina killed hundreds and hundreds of people. New Orleans was still waterlogged from the flood that had crippled the city, and the Katrina story there was only beginning to unfold.
            Rita was devastating to the people in the smaller communities along the coastal base of Acadiana, but what happened to them — and to their way of life — seemed to be ignored by everyone outside the impact zone. As major news continued to come out of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C., about the Katrina aftermath — not to mention books, movies and TV shows — I started to ask myself, “What about Rita?”
            Once it became apparent to me that no one else was going to tell this story, I decided to try to do it myself. I began my research and interviews in my spare time, beginning with a trip to Cameron in June 2007, just before the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Audrey there. Before I got too far along with the project, Hurricane Ike came along and hit all the same communities, and hit them hard, so I had to turn my Rita book into a Rita-and-Ike book.
            Q: How do you feel the devastation in southwest Louisiana was treated differently from the damage inflicted by Katrina on New Orleans?
            A: The national media were already in place in New Orleans when Rita approached, so reporters were well positioned to cover the story, in theory. Unfortunately, though, they mostly viewed Rita in terms of how it affected, or failed to affect, New Orleans on one end and Houston on the other. What actually happened in the middle — in places like Dulac and Erath and Grand Chenier, and even Lafayette and Lake Charles — barely got noticed, and it wasn’t long before everyone went back to reporting on post-Katrina New Orleans or moved on to other stories altogether. Compared to the dramatic loss of life inflicted by Katrina, Rita seemed to be regarded as almost a non-story. Of course, try telling that to people in Henry whose houses ended up miles away in a sugarcane field or folks in Cameron whose loved ones’ coffins washed away when the cemeteries got flooded.
            Q: How do think Rita and Ike (and Gustav) affected Cajun and Creole culture in southwest Louisiana?
            A: Rita and Ike were unusual in that, instead of targeting one specific location like Gustav and most other storms, they swept across the entire coastal region of the state. They were huge and powerful, and they had dramatic effects on communities along pretty much the entire 250-mile gulf coast of Louisiana. I write about the experience in the context of the history of South Louisiana’s Cajun people, whose ancestors endured the dreadful Acadian exile from Nova Scotia 250 years earlier before making their way to Louisiana to begin a new life there. It’s in the nature of the people of South Louisiana to take care of their own and their neighbors when adversity strikes, and that’s what happened here.
            Q: How has the culture changed since Rita and Ike?
            A: It’s too soon to know, but we need to pay attention to places like Cameron Parish and the down-the-bayou communities of lower Terrebonne Parish. Since these storms, there is greater concern about young people giving up on places where their families have lived for four, five and six generations, and moving inland to cities where better jobs and modern conveniences abound and coastal flooding isn’t an everyday threat. If these communities — Cajun, Creole and Native American — lose their next generation, the way of life unique to those places will be imperiled.
            Q: You have a lot of personal stories in this book, when did you meet the people you interviewed? How was that experience?
            A: I have done a number of reports on Louisiana’s Cajun people, their music, food and way of life for The Times-Picayune, beginning in 2001 with an in-depth series of articles taking stock of the culture at the start of the new century. I grew up in Terrebonne Parish, too, so I have a personal as well as a professional frame of reference for life in South Louisiana. When I started researching Hurricane Rita, I asked friends all across South Louisiana for help in finding storm survivors whose experiences would help to illustrate the overall story I wanted to tell. Most of the people I eventually contacted were surprised that I would be interested in their stories but graciously shared them.
            Q: During the course of writing this book, what moved you the most?
            A: I was struck by the dedication of Zeb Johnson and his fellow funeral directors from the Lake Charles area who volunteered to search the marshes and waterways of Cameron Parish for coffins that had been washed away from gravesites in the storm surges, and then worked to identify those remains that were found. There efforts were heroic but largely unnoticed, except for the grateful families who were able to rebury their dead.
            And the final chapter in the book is one of my favorites: it’s a passing-of-the-torch story about an elderly native of Grand Chenier and his relationship with his great-grandson, and how the hurricanes affected them and the place they called home.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

'The Garden District of New Orleans' a must for history lovers

            When visitors arrive in New Orleans they usually follow a straight line from Louis Armstrong Airport to the French Quarter. Some venture out by hailing the streetcar uptown, but some of the city’s most impressive neighborhoods lie just beyond the tourist center and off the St. Charles streetcar tracks, and most only glimpse this area when visiting Commander’s Palace.
            The New Orleans Garden District was in its many sections was subdivided and settled primarily by Americans, protestants Yankees in many instances and not with the more carefree attitude of Creoles who founded the city and lived in the Quarter.
            “Suffice it to say, they were far fonder of cash and capital than of moonlight and magnolias,” writes Jim Fraiser in his latest coffee table book, “The Garden District of New Orleans,” published by the University Press of Mississippi.
            Even Garden District writers Grace King and George Washington Cable preferred related tales of the city’s more flamboyant residents and not their own neighbors.
            “This may explain why thousands of books (including one of mine) have been penned about the French Quarter, while a mere handful have focused upon the Garden District of New Orleans,” Frasier writes in the preface.
            Illustrated by West Freeman with numerous samples of this vast collection of architectural styles, the book examines the neighborhood chronilogially and by subject matter. While showcasing impressive homes, their history, building styles and owners Frasier also discusses daily life, the outbreaks of yellow fever, the American’s embracing of Mardi Gras, Civil War, religion and many other subjects.
            It’s a gorgeous book and one every lover of New Orleans history, architecture and culture should add to his collection.

‘From the Heart’
            Robert Charles Payne of West Monroe, a motivational author, radio and TV host and newspaper columnist for the Ouachita Citizen, has assembled a collection of inspiration stories titled “From the Heart: Stories of Hope, Passion, and Purpose,” published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans.
            The book’s nearly 100 essays are based on Payne’s personal experiences and run the gamut of subject matter, all offering ways to meet life’s challenges with a Christian message.
            Payne is the host of TV’s “Sacred Conversations” and the “Package of Power” radio show. He has served as the head football coast and athletic director at West Monroe High School.

King of New Orleans
            Greg Klein writes about former Baton Rouge resident, wrestler Sylvester Ritter better known as the Junkyard Dog in “The King of New Orleans: How the Junkyard Dog Became Pro Wrestling's First Black Superstar,” published by ECW Press.
            “Ritter wasn’t just the king of New Orleans,” Klein wrote me by email. “In the 1980s he was a huge star through the territory known as Mid South, including all of Louisiana. He was the first black or African American wrestler to be made the star of a territory, at a time and in a place where the backlash from the Civil Rights Movement was still active.”
            Klein’s book explores both wrestling and racism in the South.
            “It is about a shooting star and a forgotten hero,” he wrote. “It is about the fans — your readers — who remember him in their hearts. As odd as it sounds now, the Junkyard Dog was a bigger star at the time than even Archie Manning. He drew more than a million fans to the arenas during a five-year span and was a cross-over star appealing to all races and ages. He died tragically young and has mostly been forgotten, but I hope my book will change that.”
            Klein is planning several charity campaigns to honor Ritter; visit www.indiegogo.com/junkyarddog for more information.

Write on!
            Acadiana Writing Project in collaboration with LSU-Eunice Continuing Education is sponsoring Word Up Youth Writing Camp for students in grades 4-12 from 9 a.m. to noon July 23-27. Students receive a T-shirt and anthology for participating. The cost is $89. Information: www.lsue.edu/site272.php, (337) 550-1390.

Lafayete Library events June 25-30
            It Came from the Toybox! with Charlie Williams the “Noise Guy” for ages 3 and up at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Jefferson Street Branch
and 3 p.m. Monday at
South Regional Library.
            Starry, Starry Night Painting for ages 5–12 years will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at North Regional Library. Come celebrate summer by designing a sparkly star painting using watercolors and glitter. Preregister by calling 896-6323.
            Run and Catch a Gingerbread man! for ages 5-12 begins at 2 p.m. Thursday at
South Regional Library.
            Self-Publishing 101 with Andrea Porter begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at South Regional Library.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Biguenet wins Louisiana National Writer Award

            The State Library of Louisiana’s Center for the book has named John Biguenet as the recipient the 2012 Louisiana Writer Award. The novelist, short story writer, playwright, columnist, translator and essayist is being honored for his extraordinary contribution to the state’s literary heritage exemplified by his body of work.
             The Louisiana Writer Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to the literary and intellectual legacy of Louisiana. Biguenet will be recognized at the 2012 Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 27. Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne and State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton will present the award and Biguenet will discuss his writing career at a special program during the festival.
             Biguenet’s books include the novel “Oyster” and “The Torturer’s Apprentice: Stories.” Biguenet has received an O. Henry Award for short fiction and a Harper’s Magazine Writing Award. He has served twice as president of the American Literary Translators Association and as writer-in-residence at various universities. He is the Robert Hunter Distinguished University Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.
             For more information on Biguenet’s work, visit www.state.lib.la.us. For more information about the 2012 Louisiana Book Festival, visit www.LouisianaBookFestival.org.

U.S. Poet Laureate
            The Library of Congress chose Natasha Trethewey last week as the next U.S. poet laureate. Trethewey is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of three collections and a professor of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. A native of Gulfport, she is the first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original poet laureate, and the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993.
            Trethewey is the author of “Bellocq’s Ophelia,” a novella of an imagined mixed-race prostitute photographed in the early 20th century by E. J. Bellocq in New Orleans; “Native Guard,” which focuses on the Louisiana Native Guards, a black regiment in the Union Army, and which won the Pulitzer in 2007; and the 2010 nonfiction book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

Book awards
            Southeastern Louisiana University staff librarian Paul Kelsey will be awarded the American Library Association’s 2012 Scholastic Library Award for his efforts to synergize the writing and illustrating talents of young people. He will be recognized at the organization’s annual meeting in June for his creation of the online magazine “Launch Pad: Where Young Authors and Illustrators Take Off.” The website matches the skills of young authors, poets and illustrators between the ages of 6 and 14 and publishes the best submissions on the Internet. To check it out, visit www.launchpadmag.com.
            The award includes a citation and $1,000 prize donated by Scholastic Library Publishing.
            A resident of Baton Rouge, Kelsey developed Launch Pad following Hurricane Katrina when his daughter was seeking to publish an essay she had written. “How I Met Elizabeth” told the story of how his daughter, Clare, made a new friend who transferred to her Baton Rouge school from the New Orleans area. The essay was later published in Northwestern State University’s Louisiana English Journal.

Write on!                       
            The Acadiana Writing Project in collaboration with LSU-Eunice Continuing Education is sponsoring Word Up Youth Writing Camp for students in grades 4-12 from 9 a.m. to noon July 23-27. Students receive a T-shirt and anthology for participating. The cost is $89. Information: www.lsue.edu/site272.php, (337) 550-1390.

Lafayette Library events for June 19-22
            Northside High Drill SQUAD will perform at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Clifton Chenier Auditorium. Come see why this local team is not only number one in the state, but also the Walt Disney World National High School Step Team Champion.
            South Regional Sleuths Mystery Book Club meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month at South Regional Library. The book this month is “Death Comes to Pemberly” by P. D. James.
            Starry, Starry Night Painting for ages 5–12 years will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Scott and 2 p.m. at Duson branch libraries. Children will design a sparkly star painting using watercolors and glitter.
            Printmaking Workshop for Teens will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at North Regional.
            Relax Away the Stress with Diane Queen, an earth-based traditional herbalist, in hour-long sessions offered at 7 p.m. Wednesday and July 11 at South Regional. Tonight’s class focuses on stressors and their effects on the physical body, as well as tips on how to get a good night’s sleep. The session also includes the use of herbs and aromatherapy. A free tea sample will be provided.
            “Louisiana in 1812”
lecture with Dr. Michael Martin, director of the Center for Louisiana History and managing editor of Louisiana History at UL-Lafayette, begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at South Regional and 6:30 p.m. Thursday at North Regional Library.           
            The Great Pizza Contest with Page Turner Adventures for ages 3-10 begins at 10 a.m. Thursday at the
Carencro Community Center next to North Regional Library and at 3 p.m. Thursday at South Regional Library.

            Master Puppet Theater by the Teen Performance Troupe begins at 11 a.m. Friday at
 South Regional Library.

Book News
            The Acadiana Repertory Theatre will host its inaugural New Works Festival Thursday through July 1 at Theatre 810 in downtown Lafayette. ART will present readings of 10 unproduced shows by playwrights from across the country, and audience member will have the chance to rate each show after the reading. Winners will be asked to return for full-scale productions during ACT’s 2013 season. 
            Theresa N. Singleton will read from her new picture book, “Zydeco Zoom,” illustrated by L. Foote, and her previous book, “Grandfather Lee and the Bees,” illustrated by Rob Guillory, at the Thensted Outreach Center as part of the Thensted Summer Renaissance Program from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday in Grand Coteau.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Children's book tells all the things you never knew about Jean Laffite

            I’ll bet you thought you knew everything about Jean Laffite. Did you know the pirate was Jewish, spelled his name with two f’s as opposed to two t’s and lived out his life in exile in St. Louis?
            There is a school of thought that Jean headed to Missouri where he lived under a fake name, married and had children and asked that his memoirs be published after 107 years. Susan Goldman Rubin tells this version in the children’s picture book, “Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America.”
            Illustrated by Jeff Himmelman, the book begins with Laffite’s childhood in Port-au-Prince, then part of Saint Domingue and a colony of France, now known as Haiti. Young Laffite admires his pirating older brother Alexander and follows in his footsteps, despising Spain for its brutal treatment of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. Naturally, the Laffite brothers pillage Spanish ships.
            When Jean is captured by a Spanish man-of-war, he and his family are left to die on an island where they were later rescued by Americans and brought to New Orleans. This experience, Rubin claims, makes Jean loyal to Americans.
            The rest is more familiar to Louisianans, Laffite first being hounded by then Louisiana Gov. Claiborne, selling smuggled slaves to Louisiana residents against U.S. law and hiding out in Barataria Bay. When the English set out to attack New Orleans, Laffite spreads the word and is eventually recruited by Andrew Jackson and the pair help win the famous Battle of New Orleans.
            Rubin concludes the book with a lengthy author’s note, describing Laffite’s later years and his little-known memoir.
            Theresa N. Singleton of Lafayette has published a charming children’s book titled “Zydeco Zoom,” in which a young boy named Zerick plays his accordion in front of an audience for the first time. Illustrated by L. Foote, the book also includes the song, “Zydeco Zoom” and definitions of zydeco and other unique attributes of Louisiana in the forword. Singleton will read “Zydeco Zoom,” along with her previous book, “Grandfather Lee and the Bees,” at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, at the St. Martinville Branch Library and later Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Breaux Bridge Branch Library and 2 p.m. at the Cecilia Branch Library. She will also be at the Thensted Outreach Center as part of the Thensted Summer Renaissance Program from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, June 21, in Grand Coteau.
            Just in time for peach season out of Ruston, Pelican Publishing has released the “Giant Peach Yodel!” picture book for children, written by Jan Peck and illustrated by Barry Root. The book follows a family on their way to a peach festival and each time they pass a field, Little Buddy Earl yodels and makes the crops grow faster. His mom doesn’t think there’s much use for yodeling until Little Buddy Earl fattens up the peaches, resulting in one giant peach.
            Joanne Aamodt of Minnesota has written a children’s picture book about a loon who travels from the warm waters of Louisiana to the spring lakes up north in “Claire, the Loon” (AuthorHouse). The book geared for ages 4 to 8 plays off Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”
            “Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat” by Susanna Reich tells the story of gourmand Child and her determination to learn French cooking while in Paris through her experience adopting “a mischievous, energetic poussiequette” named Minette, who prefers mice to anything gourmet. It’s a charming exploration of the famous chef, accented by adorable illustrations by award winner Amy Bates, with a fun biography in the afterword.
Book awards
            Christa Allen’s sophomore novel, “The Edge of Grace,” received the Selah Award for first place in Contemporary Fiction at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Allen recently moved from Abita Springs to New Orleans.
             Covington’s O’Neil De Noux received the 2011 Police Book of the Year award for his novel, “John Raven Beau,” published by Big Kiss Productions of New Orleans. De Noux is a police investigator for Southeastern Louisiana University and has written 10 novels and eight short story collections.
Book events
            Casa Azul Gifts hosts an oral history presentation with Grand Coteau native Joseph “Bay” Brooks and New Orleans author Constance Adler at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at the store in Grand Coteau. Brooks owned his own auto repair garage for 35 years and he will share stories of growing up and living in Grand Coteau. His presentation will be filmed by documentary filmmaker Chere Breaux. Adler teaches a creative writing workshop and writes a blog, “Emily Every Day.” Her writing has appeared in Spy Magazine, Utne Reader, Self, Cable Guide, Baltimore Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, Oxford American and Gambit New Orleans. Adler’s first book, “My Bayou,” is a memoir that takes place in New Orleans. Bring your own poems, songs or stories for the open mic that follows. This free, community event is appropriate for all ages. For more information call (337) 662-1032 or email festivalwords@gmail.com.
            “The Complete Women of William Shakespeare” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 17, at Theatre 810 in downtown Lafayette.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lafayette teens win state library 'Video Challenge' with 'Fast Food'

Courman Winters and Michael Hilburn won the State Library of Louisiana’s Own the Night Teen Video Challenge 2012. Their winning video was titled “Fast Food” and filmed at the Lafayette Public Library. The Teen Video Challenge is a national competition aimed at getting teens involved with reading and their public library’s summer reading program. Winners were selected from 23 participating states and their videos are recognized as official Own the Night Teen Video Challenge winners. The winning videos will be used to promote summer reading programs in libraries nationwide and each winning video will earn its creators $275 from the CSLP. To view the winning videos, including the very clever “Fast Food,” visit www.cslpreads.org. For more information about Louisiana summer reading programs and the State Library visit www.state.lib.la.us.
University presses
            Last week I mentioned two new books from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press but failed to mention “New Orleans Sojourn: Premiers pas a la Nouvelle Orleans” by French artist Gersin.
            Part travel diary (Gersin spent three months in the city), part artist sketchbook, this lovely tribute to New Orleans is written in French highlighted by Gersin’s remarkable line and watercolor drawings. It’s the perfect gift for those learning the language and for our cousins and friends across the pond. Of course, you don’t really need to understand French to know what Gersin is honoring; the descriptive photos of the Crescent City tell it all.
            For information, visit UL Press at http://ulpress.org.
            And speaking of university presses, LSU Press has two interesting books out now — “Louisiana Aviation: An Extraordinary History in Photographs” by Vincent P. Caire of New Orleans and “The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull, Mistress of Rosedown Plantation,” edited and annotated by Suzanne Turner, professor emerita of landscape architecture at LSU.
            “Louisiana Aviation” takes readers through the state’s frontier days of flying to the present-day and the annual Acadiana Air Show. Accompanied by dozens of photographs, the book highlights pioneers, barnstormers, designers and more. There’s Delta Airlines founder C. E. Woolman, aircraft designer James Wedell and Harry P. Williams, who with Wedell founded the Wedell-Williams Air Service in Patterson. Visits by famous aviators including Charles Lindbergh and John Moisant, whose tragic crash inspired the naming of the New Orleans airport (now you know what those letters mean on your airplane tickets!).
            But that’s only the tip of the wing. The book is a must for aviation lovers but general history readers will find it fascinating as well. I know I did.
            Martha Turnbull owned Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville and kept a diary of her extensive gardening exploits from 1836 to 1894. Through these notes, editor Suzanne Turner not only documents in “The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull” how Turnbull created a plantation garden, giving insight to American horticulture of 19th century upper crust society, but also the daily lives of a Louisiana planter family. 

New releases
            Liz Talley, who grew up in Minden, has published a romantic suspense titled “Waters Run Deep,” a Harlequin Superromance featuring an undercover agent on a case in a town modeled after Breaux Bridge. She has books coming out in July and September of this year as well. “My first one has a little suspense, my second is based on LSU football recruiting and the last one is a coming home reunion story,” she wrote me by email. “I worked hard to make sure I made it authentic Louisiana.” For information, visit http://www.liztalleybooks.com.
            Hurricane season came early this year even though it’s officially June 1. With climate change wrecking havoc on everything, why not stay vigilant all year long? Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider offers a guide to surviving flash floods, tornadoes, heat waves, tsunamis, and yes, hurricanes in “Extreme Weather.” This book offers advice for all kinds of bad weather including earthquakes, fires and more, plus shows readers how to create a family disaster plan, prepare for emergencies with pets and work with social media. It’s a handy guide to keep with the flashlight and bottled water.
            Rich Cohen has written “The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King,” about Samuel Zemurray, the son of a Jewish Russian farmer who ran United Fruit and influenced Central American politics in the early part of the 20th century. “Cohen claims Zemurray was to New Orleans what Rockefeller was to New York, but the better comparison may be to Robert Moses, who bulldozed both land and people to build many of New York’s roads, parks, and bridges,” wrote Publisher’s Weekly. Cohen will sign copies of his book at 6 p.m. Monday, June 4, at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
            Ken Budd has published “The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem,” which includes his work volunteering for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in New Orleans, among other causes around the world.
            The spring issue of The Southern Review is now on bookstore shelves, featuring poems, drama, photographs, essays and fiction. The Southern Review was founded in 1935 by Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks and is published four times a year by LSU.
            James W. Miller has published “Where the Water Kept Rising: A College Athletic Director’s Fight To Save a New Orleans Sports Institution” by Arthur Hardy Enterprises, a New Orleans publisher. Miller was athletic director at UNO.
            Bill Loehfelm has published a mystery, “The Devil She Knows,” and will sign copies of this book from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. Also at the bookstore will be true crime writer August Palumbo signing copies of “Assassin Hunter,” which deals with New Orleans mafia and the “underworld of the Cajun French,” among others, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 9.

Book awards
            Curt Iles’ “A Spent Bullet” won the Director’s Award at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Iles is a Christian author and storyteller who lives in Dry Creek.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com.