Tuesday, December 11, 2012

'A Million Wings' explores the camaraderie, traditions of duck hunting

            ArtsMemphis helps nonprofit organizations supporting the arts, environmental education and conservation in Memphis. They created a publishing division to support this work, producing two books on the unique culture and traditions of Mississippi Flyway sportsmen — “First Shooting Light: A Photographic Journal Reveals the Legacy and Lure of Hunting Clubs in the Mississippi Flyway” and “Wild Abundance: Ritual, Revelry and Recipes from the South’s Finest Hunting Clubs,” a coffee table cookbook featuring John Besh and Donald Link, among many other chefs.
            This year Wild Abundance Publishing has released a gorgeous coffee table book sure to be the favorite of every duck hunter, “A Million Wings: A Spirited Story of the Sporting Life Along the Mississippi Flyway” by Susan Schadt, with photographs by Lisa Buser and a foreword by United States Ryder Cup team captain Davis Love III.
            There are 12 hunting clubs featured in the book, from Cuivre, Raccoon Ranch and Dardenne in Missouri, Shelby Lake Farms in Kentucky, several within the Delta of Mississippi and Arkansas and Avoca and Bayou Club in Louisiana. Each chapter details each club, its history, members and special attributes, accented by photos both inside and out of the lodges and of both hunters in action and pristine nature. The most breathtaking are the ones of the quiet bayou, the lonely leaf-strewn road and the colorful sunsets through the winter trees. And of course there are the magnificent photos of the flocks of ducks descending upon the Mississippi Flyway, hence the book’s name.
            “A Million Wings” provides a fascinating look into the camaraderie and traditions of duck hunting existing within these historic clubs, from the chefs who provide the meals to the dogs who accompany hunters in the field. Each provides its own unique history, from Cuivre’s 1895 bottle of whiskey to Avoca’s origins as an initiative for free women of color.
            “A Million Wings” and its sister books are available at fine bookstores and online. For more information and to purchase books from Wild Abundance Publishing, visit www.wildabundancepublishing.com.

New releases
            Need some ideas for Christmas gifts? Like I always say, books make the perfect gift and they are usually inexpensive, provide entertainment and promote literacy all at the same time! And sometimes they even support local writers.
            Here are a few suggestions:
            New Orleans plein air artist Phil Sandusky offers a dreamy collection of his work in “New Orleans Impressionist Cityscapes,” published by Pelican Publishing. The book contains 130 paintings of various post-Katrina sites throughout the city created by the artist from 2006 to 2012, from the Zion Travelers Second Baptist Church on Laurel Street to traditional homes of New Orleans neighborhoods and French Quarter corners. Sandusky is also author of “New Orleans en Plein Air” and “Painting Katrina.”
            Was it truly a miracle that delivered 3-year-old Eli Judice from a life-threatening medical problem on Easter Sunday of 2011? His dad Chad Judice believes so, and he explains why in a newly published book titled “Eli’s Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer.” The book is the sequel to “Waiting for Eli,” published by Acadian House Publishing. 
            David Wharton has been photographing the 12 states that define the American South since 1983, with a focus on rural and small town culture. He’s collected 116 duotone photographs from 93 towns, combined with text, to examine small town Southern culture in “Small Town South,” published by George T. Thompson Publishing. For a sneak peak slide show that includes a photo from Opelousas, visit http://gftbooks.com/Slideshows/Wharton/whartonTitle.html.
            For the sports fan, “How the SEC Became Goliath” by Ray Glier might be just the ticket. The league representing Southern football has been dominant in the past few years, winning six straight national championships.
            Margaret Media is a local publisher of various titles, from books on Creoles to movies set in New Orleans. You can purchase any of their books at Louisiana bookstores and at www.margaretmedia.com. New this year from the publisher are Catholic prayer cards. Dr. Sybil Kein, Creole historian and author of “Gumbo People,” has translated Hail Mary, Our Father, The 23rd Psalm and Angel Prayer (a bedtime prayer for children) into Louisiana French Creole as it was spoken in homes and at church throughout the 19th century and into the 1970s. A pronunciation guide is included. 
            Kittie Howard of South Louisiana has published her second novella, “Rings of Trust,” the latest book in the Remy’s Bayou Road series. Remy Broussard, first seen in Howard’s novella, “Remy Broussard’s Christmas,” returns but not as the main character this time, the author states. You can read more about the author and her books at her blog, http://kittiehoward.blogspot.com/.
Mayan prophecy
            Is Dec. 21 really the end of the world? Dr. Mark Lentz of the UL-Lafayette Department of History and Geography will explain the Mayan calendar with an emphasis on the Dec. 21 prophecy at 6:30 p. m. Monday at North Regional Branch Library in Carencro and at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at South Regional Branch Library. Teens will have an opportunity to create a mural depicting their vision of the Mayan prophecies for Dec. 21, with refreshments and supplies provided, at noon Saturday at the South Regional Library. The film “2012” (PG-13) will also be shown at 2 p.m. Saturday at South Regional.

Book events
             Todd-Michael St. Pierre will sign copies of “Taste of Treme: Creole, Cajun, and Soul Food from New Orleans’ Famous Neighborhood of Jazz” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Barnes & Noble in Lafayette and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Barnes & Noble Citiplace in Baton Rouge, followed by a signing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in Metairie. He will also sign copies of the cookbook and other books from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Serenity Home & Gifts, 1660 Hwy. 59, Ste. 600, in Mandeville, and from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Friends of the Cabildo’s 1850 House Museum Store, 523 St. Ann St. in New Orleans.
            The UL Press Holiday Book Sale will be from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Casa Azul Gifts, 232 Martin Luther King Drive in Grand Coteau. There will be signed copies of books, complimentary refreshments and gift wrapping and every title will be discounted by at least 20 percent off of the regular retail price. All purchases come with a complimentary tote bag as well.
            John Slaughter will sign “Grand Coteau” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 2590 CitiPlace Court in Baton Rouge.
            The winners of The Extra Mile’s annual talent show will perform at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Lafayette. 
            And I (Cheré Coen) will be signing “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Acadian Village.

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.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Books by local authors make great holiday gifts!

             Books make great gifts. They provide entertainment, education, inspiration and literacy and the experience of reading lasts a lifetime. Please consider books in your holiday giving.           
            With that in mind, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Press Holiday Book Sale, with titles discounted by at least 20 percent off of the regular retail price, will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the UL Alumni Center, 600 E. St. Mary Blvd.
            The event will include new releases, signed copies of UL Press books, complimentary refreshments and gift wrapping, and all purchases come with a complimentary tote bag as well.
            The sale continues from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Casa Azul Gifts,
232 Martin Luther King Drive in Grand Coteau.

New releases
            John McCusker, a photographer for the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, has published “Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz” with the University Press of Mississippi. Ory performed with Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, was part of the first African American New Orleans jazz recordings and is the composer of the jazz standard “Muskrat Ramble.” McCusker was part of the team that shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism for covering Hurricane Katrina.
            Chin Music Press has published “Jackson Squared: The Heart of the Quarter,” created by Tom Varisco and featuring photos by Jackson Hill and Will Crocker with a foreword by John Biguenet. The book contains essays by Biguenet, John Carr, Nicole Biguenet Pedersen and Susan Sarver. Varisco is the creator of “Spoiled,” a photo book of Hurricane Katrina refrigerator art, and Signs of New Orleans, a record of the city's colorful street signs.
            Mary Lou Widmer and Joan B. Garvy of New Orleans published a concise history of the city in 1982 titled “Beautiful Crescent: A History of New Orleans.” Pelican Publishing has updated the book with edits by Kathy Chappetta Spiess and Karen Chappetta with a foreword by Jane Molony of the Friends of the Cabildo, which uses the book for training its volunteers.
            Widmer and Garvy have also reissued “Louisiana: The First 300 Years,” which follows the state’s history from its early origins as a colony to 2001.
            Roy W. Rusha, a veteran of Vietnam and the Louisiana State Police, has published a gripping mystery surrounding a massive drug bust in the bayous of Louisiana titled “Wrestling with Pigs.” Rusha plans future booksignings in Lafayette at La Fonda and Legends Bar & Grill, so be on the lookout.
            David Lummis has published part two in his three-part series “The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans.” Titled “The Last Beaucoeur,” the book picks up where part one left off, on the morning of Aug. 26, 2005. B. Sammy Singleton is still reeling from the night before and his best friend, Catfish Beaucoeur, is missing, having left behind clues including a book of lynching photography and a disturbing handwritten poem. Singleton gives up writing his coffee shop guidebook and takes off on a whirlwind trip to find Catfish. “Here is a guy who can paint accurately while he suffers — a talented bohemian, in other words. A worthy addition to your growing New Orleans shelf,” writes Andrei Codrescu. For more information, visit http://www.coffeeshopchronicles.com/.
            The third book in Susan Fleet’s Frank Renzi mystery series, “Natalie’s Revenge,” looks at two murders 20 years apart in New Orleans. The book is available for the Kindle and paperback versions are available at Amazon.com. For more information, visit http://susanfleet.com/nataliesrevenge.html.
            Scott Anthony Choplin of St. Martinville has compiled a book of poetry but sees it more than a random collection, which is why he titles it “R.I.P. Poetry Collection: Reflections, Illuminations and Perceptions.” The book is full of Choplin’s insight into life. “R.I.P. Poetry Collection” is available from AuthorHouse.
         Constance Monies Gremillion, a freelance journalist and teacher and a direct descendant of two of the original Acadian families to settle in Louisiana, has written a debut novel published by Cypress Cove Publishing. “A House For Eliza” tells the true story of a Cajun family in Lafayette at the turn of the 19th century through the eyes of Eliza Landry. The book offers the reader what it was like to live on a plantation in the late 1800s and raise a family of 17 children during two World Wars and the Great Depression. Today, the house of Eliza and Oscar Daigle is located on Convent Street and is featured in the Lafayette Preservation Society’s “Tour of Lafayette.” The book is available at www.CypressCovePublishing.com, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and selected bookstores and gift shops in Lafayette and surrounding areas.
            Sylvia Dickey Smith’s latest Sidra Smart mystery takes readers to the swamps bordering Texas and Louisiana. “The Swamp Whisperer” follows Boo Murphy, a cranky old swamp-rat who prefers to spend time in her pirogue, hunting and fishing, but is pulled into a strange world when she discovers a deserted brush-hut deep in the bayou. The discovery leads Boo into a clandestine effort to resurrect a cultural site for the Atakapa-Ishak natives. But are the leaders legit, or do they have other self-serving passions?
            Iris Floyd of Baton Rouge has published “Six-of-One,” a humorous novel set in New Orleans over Labor Day weekend and involving six women of different races, creeds, backgrounds and aspirations with two things in common: a 10-year secret and desperation. The book is available at www.irisfloydbooks.com and Tate Publishing’s web site.

Southern Beast
            South Louisiana actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who starred as Hushpuppy in the independent film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was featured on the cover of this month’s Oscar issue of TheWrap.com. “Quvenzhané Wallis” is a fierce new face in the Oscar race,” the cover states.

Book events
            The Black Widow Salon presents poet Dave Brinks discussing his new book, “The Secret Brain: Selected Poems 1995-2012,” at 7 p.m. Monday at Crescent City Books, 230 Chartres St. in New Orleans.
            The 1718 Society, a student-run literary organization made up of Tulane, Loyola and UNO students, host Benjamin Morris  at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. Open to the public.
            Michael Allen Zell and Jenn Marie Nunes read from their work at 8 p.m. Thursday at Gold Mine Saloon in New Orleans, part of the 17Poets. For more information, visit http://www.17poets.com.
            Lesley Crawford Costner will sign copies of “Goodnight Acadiana” Friday at Acadian Village as part of the Noel Acadien au Village celebration.
            John Slaughter will sign copies of “Grand Coteau” and Robert Carriker will sign “Boudin” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 5705 Johnston St.
            Author’s Alley features me (Cheré Coen) signing “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” John Francois signing “Pontiac” and other historical novels set in South Louisiana, Andy Hebert signing “Christmas on a Bayou” and John Morella signing “Give Teens a Break” and “A Guide For Effective Psychotherapy” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the North Regional Branch Library in Carencro.
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, December 1, 2012

It was a fun day to be a writer

            Booksignings can be a dull affair, particularly if you are by yourself, the crowds are few or unreceptive and worse, they have no need for a book and thus you go home empty handed. Today, I had the pleasure of being a part of the Author’s Alley at the South Regional Branch Library in Lafayette (Louisiana) and sitting with three wonderful Acadiana authors — Camilla Hunt Cole signing “Mesquite,” Andy Hebert signing “Christmas on a Bayou” and Genie Summers signing “Our Family’s Book of Acts.” We had a nice turnout, friends and visitors alike were very generous (merci beaucoup!) and it was great chatting with one another about writing, social media, our next books and much more.
            Camilla Cole is busy working on a Southern gothic mystery due out next year, Genie Summers felt compelled to write her two books about missionary work but now she’s having fun penning a novel and Andy Hebert’s topics ranged from his Christmas coloring book to his grandfather’s fascinating diary of the Iota (Louisiana) area.
            After three hours at the library I headed over to the Fire & Water Cultural Arts Celebration in Arnaudville, where the new coffee shop Little Big Cup was hosting an afternoon of writers. Besides me, there was former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque, Poet Clare L. Martin (left), novelist John Francois, young adult novelist Margaret Simon (right) and photographer JohnSlaughter. I arrived in time to visit with Margaret and Clare (who organized the entire event – thank you Clare!) and again, it was such a treat enjoying the company of other writers (remember, we mostly work in solitude). I learned about Clare’s experiences writing her poetry book, “Eating the Heart First,” found out Margaret is a poet herself and listened to John reminisce about his life photographing the historic town of Grand Coteau.
            On the way home I stopped by Nunu’s arts center where musicians were performing, artists were demonstrating their work and selling beautiful items and Bayou Teche Brewery was serving up samples of their new Christmas beer. More creativity jive; the air crackled with it.
            This holiday season may I suggest giving something unique, creative and supportive of the local economy — art and books. We who serve in the trenches producing our stories and artwork because we must would surely appreciate it.
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.