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