Monday, July 30, 2012

'Deadlocked' headed toward series finish

          Charlaine Harris’s latest Sookie Stackhouse novel “Deadlocked” deals with the usual “supes” or supernaturals, including fairies, werewolves, vampires and demons — all those wonderful characters that spawned the popular “True Blood” series on HBO. But as the series heads to its conclusion next May, Harris appears to be wrapping up a few storylines while continuing to leave many others open to keep us waiting with anticipation.
             In this her 12th novel in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series, our favorite telepathic is still hosting her fairie cousins and dating Eric the vampire with a few enemies always lurking around the corner, not to mention a few men who carry a torch for the young north Louisiana girl. When a dead woman shows up in Eric’s front lawn while the vampire King of Louisiana is visiting, a girl Eric has had his teeth into only minutes before, Sookie’s world becomes even more complicated.
            If this sounds involved, you’re dead on, pun intended. After a dozen books in the series Harris has her work cut out for her to bring readers up to date, particularly for those picking up No. 12 as their first book. But the supernatural world of Sookie Stackhouse with all its interlocking storylines and fascinating characters pulls you in and keeps you guessing until the very last page.
            It will be interesting to see how the series concludes next year, and who, if any, Sookie picks as her love interest.
            For those of you wishing to read Harris’s series, I suggest beginning with book one. It’s a fun series but so much more satisfying when read in order.

LSU releases
            LSU Press has published several new books in the past few months. Here are a few of note.
            A lengthy examination of Newcomb College of New Orleans in essays has been compiled and edited by Susan Tucker and Beth Willinger as “Newcomb College 1886-2006: Higher Education for Women in New Orleans.” The college originated as H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in honor of the daughter of founder Josephine Louise Newcomb. The school was the country’s first degree-granting coordinate college for women, became known for its pottery and art curriculum and educated thousands of women. The book concludes with the merging of Newcomb into Tulane University in 2006.
             “Illegal Sex in Antebellum New Orleans: Brothels, Depravity and Abandoned Women” by Judith Kelleher Schafer of New Orleans explores cases of prostitution before the Civil War with information derived from the city’s First District Court and newspaper accounts.
            Claude F. Oubre’s “Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen’s Bureau and Black Land Ownership” has been reissued with a new foreword by Katherine C. Mooney. First published in 1978, the book details American Reconstruction and the struggles of black families to acquire land and how the Freeman’s Bureau both helped and worked against them. Oubre was a professor of history at LSU-Eunice and the coauthor of “Creoles of Color in the Bayou Country.”
            Clayton E. Jewett edits “The Battlefield and Beyond: Essays on the American Civil War.” Topics include race and warfare, Confederacy leadership, despotism and Confederate defeat, Reconstruction and the New South and memory and the American Civil War.

New releases
            Chad Guidry and Yvette Naquin have published “Louisiana Through My Lens,” a hardbound coffee table photographic journey through the swamps, bayous and lakes of South Louisiana. The self-published book sells for $35 plus shipping and handling. Visit
            Sandra Hill began her Cajun-inspired romances in 1999 with “The Love Potion,” a lusty love story between a woman who creates a love potion and the bad boy Cajun who accidentally swallows it. The book has been reissued by Avon and will be available Tuesday in paperback.

Book events
            The Writer's Guild of Acadiana will host the 2012 Lafayette Louisiana National Poetry Slam Team at 7 pm Tuesday at Barnes & Noble Bookstore Lafayette. This is a fundraiser as the team heads to the 23rd Annual National Poetry Slam.           

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wiley Cash's 'A Land More Kind Than Home' a fresh new voice in fiction

            Young Jess Hall has been punished for spying on adults, but that doesn’t keep him from peeking into the River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following. Inside people are heady with the spirit and the piano and drum music shakes the building. 
            But it’s Jess’s mute brother that draws his attention, along with his mother who is not happy with the direction the service is taking. What Jess sees through the secretive church’s backboards and does will change many lives in the small mountain town outside of Asheville, North Carolina.
            The incident surrounding two brothers provides the riveting backbone of Wiley Cash’s debut novel, “A Land More Kind Than Home.” We slowly learn of the mysterious church, its work with snakes by its charismatic preacher with a shady past and the incident that disrupts the town. More importantly, the book weaves in and out of the character’s back stories, showing us the reasons for their intense religious pursuit, their instinctual desire for violence and one woman’s ability to delineate between a calling to God and the work of evil and her attempts to protect the town’s children.
            The book’s narrative of the three town characters is gripping and intimate; by the end of the story they become family. The suspenseful plotline keeps readers guessing, with all stories interconnecting to a dramatic finish that feels as if we’re standing on Jess’s porch, watching his innocence disappear.
            Cash hails from North Carolina and now teaches English at Bethany College in West Virginia, but he received his Ph.D. at UL-Lafayette.
            Let’s hope more is coming of this fresh new voice in fiction. As Ernest Gaines quotes on the back, “I think this could be the beginning of a long, fruitful career.”
Cocktails tales
            James Teitelbaum examines craft cocktails, libations made with care and expertise akin to gourmet food in “The Traveler’s Guide to Superior Libations.”
            The author details several hundred destinations both within the United States and aboard, including New Orleans (of course!), looking at atmosphere, pretension, slow cocktails and craft distilleries, including eco-friendly companies and those who support local farmers. He also discusses bartenders and their role in the process, incorporating quality ingredients, “a baseline knowledge of mixology” and the addition of cuisine, among other subjects.
            In his section on New Orleans, Teitelbaum gives nods to original Crescent City drinks Ramos Gin Fizz, Brandy Crusta and the Sazerac, also noting how others have an association with the city. Establishments include Arnaud’s, Cure and the Museum of the American Cocktail, to name a few.           
            It’s a comprehensive guide for world travelers, as well as those wishing to learn more about the art of the cocktails. The book includes a handy index of bars as well as a lovely list of cocktail recipes Teitelbaum learned from his travels.
            Appropriately, Teitelbaum will be signing copies of his book at the Tales of the Cocktail from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday in the lobby of the Monteleone Hotel. For information on New Orleans’ annual celebration of the cocktail, visit

Slam support
            The Lafayette National Poetry Slam Team is headed to Charlotte, N.C., Aug. 6 through 12 for the 23rd annual National Poetry Slam Festival. To help them get to the national event they are asking for financial support. Donations will be accepted at the Pay Pal link on the home page of (the official website of the Lafayette National Poetry Slam Team). 
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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Authors collect images of Iberia Parish, start new book on St. Landry

    Acadiana authors Nelwyn Hebert and Warren A. Perrin have published a collection of 200 vintage images and memories of Iberia Parish, part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.
    “Iberia Parish” tells the history of the area from its inception in the mid-1700s by the French, the arrival of the Spanish and Acadians in the mid-18th century when the town was called Nueva Iberia, and on up into the 20th century. The book includes an introduction by historian Shane Bernard followed by wonderful photographs of people, cultural events, festivals, sports, food and so much more.
    The majority of the images have been donated from private collections of local residents, including those of the McIlhenny family, owners of Tabasco. Some photos never seen before include those of Buck Johnson and the town of Derouen.
    The profits from the sale of the book are being donated to the Bayou Teche Museum, the Jeanerette Museum and the Acadian Museum in Erath.
    Perrin will be teaming up with Patrick Morrow and Philip Andrepont to pen a similar book on St. Landry Parish, also by Arcadia Publishing. Photographs are being sought from the public for inclusion in that book, which will also support local museums. If anyone has any photographs to be submitted, they can either make an appointment to bring them to Andrepont Printing, 5043 I-49 South Service Road, Opelousas, La., 70570 or call (337) 942-6385. Photos will be scanned on site or residents may scan ahead with these specifications: resolution 300 dpi; output size at 8 inches wide if inside photo; at least 12 inches high if cover photo; color mode of grayscale (8-bit); and saved as file format TIFF, no compression. Email Philip Andrepont at along with background information about each photograph such as date, place and the names of people and places shown.  All persons or groups who contribute materials will be acknowledged in the book.

Dixie Kane Contest
    The deadline for the annual Dixie Kane writing contest, sponsored by the South Louisiana chapter of Romance Writers of America, has been extended to Aug. 1. For more information, visit

Anne Rice
    Anne Rice and her erotica stories may get a boost thanks to the popularity of “50 Shades of Grey” by E.L. James. Plume is releasing redesigned editions of Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy from the 1980s, published under her pen name of A.N. Roquelaure, according to the New York Times.
    Sales for the trilogy have been twice as strong during the first six months of 2012 as all of 2011, possibly because of “Grey’s” popularity and the acceptance of erotica, the article states. Rice wrote in the preface of her new edition that the erotica novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” proved that “people in general are ‘out of the closet’ as enjoyers of erotic books.”
    The cover message of Rice’s new edition says, “If you liked ‘50 Shades of Grey,’ you'll love the Sleeping Beauty trilogy.”
New releases
    Kimberly Willis Holt, who's originally from Louisiana, has a new book coming out in her children’s series. “Piper Reed Forever Friend” debuts Aug 7.
    John P. Klingman of New Orleans, who holds the Richard Koch Chair in Architecture at Tulane University, has published “New in New Orleans Architecture” with Pelican Publishing. In addition to his books on architecture, he writes for New Orleans Magazine and is a chairman of the Architectural Review Committee of the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission. 

Book events
    Ron Thibodeaux will sign copies of “Hell or High Water: How Cajun Fortitude Withstood Hurricanes Rita and Ike” at noon Saturday, July 21, at Barnes & Noble Lafayette, 5707 Johnston St.
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

Monday, July 9, 2012

Louisiana's remarkable women, BP oil spill and other new releases

    Louisiana has been home to many remarkable women, from pioneering newspaper reporters and editors to champions of orphans. Marie Laveau continues to be written about for her legendary religious practices. Kate Chopin sent shock waves through the literary world with the publication of her novel, "The Awakening." These women and more make up "More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Louisiana Women" by Bonnye E. Stuart. The book profiles 16 historical figures. 
    It's been two years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and "Spills and Spin: The Inside Story of BP" by Tom Bergin, published by Random House Business UK, examines the massive oil spill. Bergin is a regular TV commentator, heading Reuter's coverage of the oil industry in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Sunday Times wrote, "If you want to know why BP got itself into such a mess before and after Deepwater Horizon, 'Spills and Spin' is an excellent and reliable account.'"
    There are many books on the market for time management, but here's a new twist. "Time Management for Catholics" by Dave Durand offers advice for managing time and avoiding burnout but with faith as its foundation. The book features tips such as finding time for family and retooling a schedule for fitness. The author is the founder of ProBalance Inc. and the author of "Peretual Motivation: Say This, Not That" and "Win the World Without Losing Your Soul."
    Margaret Media out of Donaldsonville has released the trade paperback for "Floating Souls: The Canal Murders," the first novel for Mary H. Manhein, forensic anthropologist and head of the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services lab at LSU. The book is available at and in local and online bookstores. Manhein will sign copies from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge.
After getting pregnant as a teenager and finding refuge in Colorado Avery Pritchett returns to her small Southern town when her brother gets married, but must confront her past in "Alligator Lake" by Lynne Bryant, published by Penguin. Bryant, a native of Mississippi, is the author of "Catfish Alley."
    The birthing process is the backdrop and the metaphor of "Birthing Pains" by Sherlin Henderson Lewis. "In New Orleans, a place that has learned to make music out of the bitter and sweet, a parade of souls giving birth whether feast or famine" is how the author describes her book, published by Enough Grace Publishing.
    "Operation Aspic: A James Bond Parody" is a comedic novel by Anthony J. Lomas that plays on the legacy of James Bond but is set in Cajun Country. An elite spy force must steal a secret recipe from a Louisiana chef so the British culinary team can win the World Culinary Olympics. The book is available at online bookstores such as
    Pelican Publishing has reissued "We are Acadians" by Myron Tassin with photography by Fonville Winans and a forword by Glen Pitre. The book was originally publishing in 1976 as a pictorial documentary on what it means to be Acadian.

Library exhibit
    A traveling exhibition commemorating 200 years of Louisiana statehood, "Becoming Louisiana: Path to Statehood Exhibit," will be on display through Aug. 12 at South Regional Library in Lafayette Presented by the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission, this exhibit was collaboration by curator Herman Mhire, graphic designer Kate Ferry and historian Charles Elliot. The exhibition documents the roles Louisiana's unique geography and cultural history played on its path to becoming the 18th state of the Union. The exhibit consists of a series of 10 fabric panels displaying images and text that tell the story of early Louisiana history. There will be an exhibit reception at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, at the South Regional Library Meeting Room with refreshments served. Following the reception, a National Park Ranger will lecture on the cultural identity of Louisiana.

Book events
    Theresa N. Singleton will read her new picture book, "Zydeco Zoom," illustrated by L. Foote, and her previous book, "Grandfather Lee and the Bees," illustrated by Rob Guillory, at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 14, at Barnes & Noble, 5707 Johnston St. in Lafayette. Also at Barnes & Noble on Saturday, Acting Unlimited/Wanderlust Theatre Co. will present "The Wolves in the Walls" book and shadow puppet workshop at 2 p.m.
    Kelby Ouchley disucsses his book "Bayou Diversity" at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the West Ouachita Library. Call (318) 327-5414 for more information.

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Louisiana students take top honors in national writing competition

    Wow, great news!!!
    Two Louisiana students earned national recognition in the 2012 Letters About Literature writing competition - Ella Franzen of Lafayette (1 of 4 national honors recipients for Level 1) and Imogen Hoffman of Gretna (1 of 16 finalists for Level 2).
    Students were asked to write a letter to an author or poet, living or dead, explaining how that writer's work changed the student’s way of thinking about themselves or the world and how the chosen books impacted their life or worldview.
    Louisiana’s first place winner for Level 1, Franzen, wrote her winning letter to Fred Gipson, author of "Old Yeller." Franzen’s designated school library, Episcopal School of Acadiana Lower School Library, receives a $1,000 Target grant. Franzen receives a $50 Target GiftCard in addition to other prizes already earned at the state level.
    Franzen’s winning letter may be viewed at
    Louisiana’s Level 2 winner, Hoffman, is a student at Ursuline Academy in New Orleans. She wrote to author Avi about the novel, "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle."
    The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana presents the Letters About Literature competition each year for Louisiana students. For more information, visit

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Exploring the city of New Orleans through its elegant homes

     New Orleans photographer and author Kerri McCaffety takes us inside some of New Orleans' most elegant homes, from French Quarter apartments and bywater shotguns to Garden District mansions in "New Orleans New Elegance," published by The Monacelli Press, with a commentary introduction by Julia Reed.
    Naturally, the homes are varied because of the city's extraordinary diverse architecture, but interiors all share an elegant ambience, offering touches of Carnival, religion, local and international artwork and distinct regional elements such as bargeboards and ballast stones derived from visiting ships.
    Some styles are traditional Creole with modern touches while others, such as Dannal Perry's shotgun, offer colorful popular culture among the antiques. Many residents renovated homes after Katrina only to find new styles of decorating, such as the uptown home blending the backside of an old French saint's niche with modern art and a Harry Bertoia "diamond chair."
    The coffee table book concludes with two impressive examples — the massive Swarovski Cascade chandelier in an Esplanade Avenue mansion and the art-enhanced French Quarter Victorian of New Orleans gallery owner Arthur Roger.
    McCaffety also is the author of "Big Easy Style," "Finest Rooms in America," "Obituary Cocktail," St. Joseph Altars," "The Majesty of St. Charles Avenue" and "The Majesty of the French Quarter." Her photographs have been published in House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Travel and Leisure and Town and Country.

New releases
    Hazel Boykin of Houma has documented her life fighting for civil rights in her memoir "My Life in Louisiana," released in late March by Dorrance Publishing. The autobiography is available as a paperback and ebook at
    Camilla Hunt Cole's biographical novel "Mesquite" looks at three colorful Texas generations. As the three women follow the trail of their ancestors through small towns in Texas, they share family love stories from Americas's most romantic eras: westward expansion, the Roaring Twenties, and the rocking 50s. The book is published by Tate Publishers and available as an ebook through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
    Robert Grier of Lake Charles uses his experience as a forensic analyst and latent print examiner with the Southwest Louisiana Crime Lab to detail how science is solving crimes in his book, "Lasting Impressions." In each chapter the author guides readers through each case, sometimes traveling from crime to courtroom. The book is available through
    Joe Reese has published a humorous book titled "TAAS: A Novel of the Standardized Examination," and he wrote me by email that "it's a vicious satirical attack on one public high school in Texas that has been driven insane by the need to be exemplary on the standardized examination." Reese begins his book with an apology to a long list of people and organizations, including the state of Texas, the makers of piñatas and "especially to Rick Baber, who honestly thought he was publishing a sequel to Anna Karenina."
    Deidré Ann Banville of New Orleans, now living on the Gulf Coast, has published "Born With a Veil, Now What?" for "caulbearers who want to come out of the darkness of secrecy into the light of their gifts given to them at birth by God," she writes on her web site. You can read more about people born with a veil and view the book's trailer at

Dixie Kane contest
    The Southern Louisiana chapter of Romance Writers of America offers its annual Dixie Kane Contest, with a guaranteed read of the first place winners in each category by established editors.
    The fee to enter is $15 and open to unpublished and published writers. Categories are short/long series contemporary, single title contemporary, historical romance, paranormal, inspirational, novel with strong romantic elements, romantic suspense, and erotic romance.
    The deadline to enter is July 16.
    Aspiring writers take note: Last year, two-thirds of the manuscripts sent to the final editor received a request for a full or partial manuscript, according to contest coordinator Nick Genovese.
    For more information, visit or email Genovese at

Louisiana Book Festival
    The Louisiana Book Festival will be Oct. 27 this year, on the Capitol grounds and inside the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. For the third year, I've been privileged to serve on the self-published committee, choosing great authors producing outstanding books.
    This year the committee selected the following authors: "Heaven and High Water" by Lana Laws Downing, "Blessen" by Margaret Simon, "Nora 102 _" by June Shaw and "Belair Cove" by Dianne Dempsey-Legnon.
    Be sure and check out these books between now and the festival, all four rich books that are captivating and well written. Plus, you'll be supporting local writers.

Book events
    Children will decorate a bottle of water using colorful felt to make a bat or raccoon-themed coozie at 2 p.m. Thursday at North Regional Branch Library. All craft supplies including water bottle will be supplied. Preregister by calling 896-6323.
    he following events will be offered at the Abbeville Library: family storytime, 10:30 a.m. Monday; artist Trish Ransom for teens and adults, 6 p.m. Thursday and crazy crafts for ages 2-12 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. For information on events happening at other Vermilion Parish libraries, visit

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's Continuing Education. Write her at