Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shreveport Conference is Written in the Stars

            The Written In The Stars Conference, sponsored by the North Louisiana Storytellers & Authors of Romance, will be March 1 and 2 in Shreveport. More than a dozen speakers will present topics in three tracks of workshops. 
             Industry professionals attending include: Barbara Vey, contributing editor, Publishers Weekly; Elizabeth Mazer, editor, Harlequin; Karen Reid, editor, Harlequin-Canada; Kerri-Leigh Grady, editor, Entangled Publishing; Tessa Woodward, editor, Avon Books; Jill Marsal, literary agent, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and Mary Sue Seymour, literary agent, The Seymour Agency. 
            Authors include Christa Allen, Beth Cornelison, Elizabeth Mazer, Lenora Worth, Liz Talley, Sarah Harner, Tessa Woodward and much more.
            Registration is $135 until Feb 23.
            For more details visit or contact the conference chair at

Monday, February 11, 2013

New books look at perique tobacco, longleaf pines

             For eight years Charles Martin has been documenting the centuries-old tradition of growing perique tobacco. The labor-intensive process of growing the unique tobacco in Louisiana dates back to the early 19th century, the brainchild of Acadian farmer Pierre “Perique” Chenet who learned the process from Native Americans and began growing this form of tobacco on the east bank of St. James Parish. 
              Martin’s documentation was on view as an exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection but has been collected in a companion catalogue that’s now on sale. “Perique: Photographs by Charles Martin” contains his sharp, detailed black and white photos and includes essays by Mary Ann Sternberg and John H. Lawrence. The book is available at The Shop at the Historic New Orleans Collection at 410 Chartres St. in New Orleans or by visiting
            Another beautiful book to relish, which honors one of the South’s greatest resources, is “Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See: A New Vision of North America’s Richest Forest” by Bill Finch, Beth Maynor Young, Rhett Johnston and John C. Hall with a foreword by E.O. Wilson. 
        The book focuses on the old-growth forests of longleaf pines, which once covered 92 million acres from Texas to Maryland and down into Florida before loggers discovered them. Louisiana residents can enjoy these ancient trees in spots such as the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain but only 3 million acres are left throughout the South. However, a resurgence has the grand ole trees making a comeback.
             “Scientific knowledge of the longleaf savanna is deepening, and public appreciation of it is rising,” Wilson writes in the foreword. “Substantial efforts to save and restore the ecosystem to some of its former glory are under way.”
            The authors combine history, biology and photographs to showcase the magnificent longleaf pine and the ecosystems the trees promote. Finch is senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation and executive director of the Mobile Botanical Gardens. Young is a conversation photographer and Johnson is cofounder and president of the Longleaf Alliance. Hall is curator of the Black Belt Museum at the University of West Alabama. 
            The book is published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Southern Review
            The winter edition of “The Southern Review,” published four times a year on the campus of LSU, includes new work by 20 poets —including Pulitzer Prize-winner Philip Schultz — fiction, essays and light drawings of horses by artist Alison Rossiter. “The Southern Review” is available in bookstores and online at
Library events
            Three best-selling romance authors will discuss their latest joint effort, “The Lady Most Willing…,” a novel in three parts, at 2 p.m. Saturday at the South Regional Branch Library. Set in the fairy-tale realm of Regency Scotland, authors Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway will discuss their book, plus talk about the romance genre in an event titled “Stories With Heart: A Valentine’s Day Romance Author Panel Discussion.” Local author Deborah LeBlanc will moderate the talk, and refreshments will be provided. A book sale and signing will follow the presentation.
            “Gran Torino,” starring Clint Eastwood, will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday at the South Regional Library Auditorium. The film is rated R.
            Artist Michael Parrish will show adults how to make a Mardi Gras mosaic using Mardi Gras beads and glitter at 10 a.m. Saturday at the South Regional Library. To preregister, call 981-1028.
            Also on Saturday is the Lego Club meeting for ages 7 and up, beginning at 2 p.m. at the North Regional Library. To register, call 896-6323.
            Saxophonist Shenole Latimer will perform at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at the South Regional Library. He will also offer a children’s performance about jazz at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at South Regional.
            And there’s more…visit

Short Story Contest
            CountryRoads magazine in Baton Rouge is hosting its 12th annual Short Story Contest. Winning entries of the short story competition and the Readers’ Choice Award will be published in the June edition of the magazine. Writers of Louisiana
and Mississippi are now invited to submit
works of fiction or haiku for cash prizes
and a chance at publication. Submission deadline is
 Friday, March 15.

Book events
            Voices in Winter: Readings by Camille Martin and Matthew Hofferek, the winter installment of the Voices Seasonal Reading Series, will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at Carpe Diem Gelato & Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson St. The event is open to the public.            
            A poetry reading by Diane Moore and Brad Richard, followed by an open mic of crazy love poems, begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau. The event is sponsored by The Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective.

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, February 4, 2013

New book sees introverts in new light

             I’ve never shied away from a good time, leading a pack or speaking in front of a group. Anyone who remembers me from my LSU days will attest to that. But on a daily basis, I prefer the solitude of my home, penning this column, writing books and taking walks with the dog.
            It never occurred to me that I might be an “introvert.” 
             It’s not what you think. That’s the best way to describe Sophia Dembling’s book, “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.” Dembling insists being an “introvert” is not about being anti-social or shy. It’s not about being a wallflower. It’s about feeling bombarded in loud social situations, about preferring solitude when others crave a party or enjoying one-on-one conversations.
            “I don’t hate people,” Dembling writes in the book’s introduction. “I’m not unfriendly or stuck-up. I’m not shy, socially awkward, or in any way (that I know of) social inept. I am perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation. I can even speak in public and do so fairly often. To meet me, you might think I’m extroverted. But I’m not.”
            I have met Dembling and if you buy into the stereotypical image of an introvert she is trying to dismiss in her book, she doesn’t fit the mold. And that’s precisely why she wrote the book, to dispel the myths and to give people who prefer less of a social life a jolt of self-esteem. Her book also calls into question society’s need to honor the more social, psychologists’ views of introverts and brain mechanics that might divide people into the two groups.
            It’s a small but valuable read and a wonderful new guide for those who appreciate the quiet side of life.

Romance in Lafayette
            Three best-selling romance authors will be visiting Lafayette on Feb. 16 to discuss their latest joint effort, “The Lady Most Willing…,” a novel in three parts. Set in the fairy-tale realm of Regency Scotland, authors Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway will discuss their book, plus talk about the romance genre in an event titled “Stories With Heart: A Valentine’s Day Romance Author Panel Discussion” at the South Regional Library.
             Local author Deborah LeBlanc will moderate the 2 p.m. talk, and refreshments will be provided. A book sale and signing will follow the presentation.
            The book follows on the heels of “The Lady Most Likely…” (Avon), which debuted at No. 8 on the New York Times Bestsellers list in December 2010. All three authors are New York Times bestselling writers. Quinn and James are graduates of Harvard and Brockway is a multiple award-winning novelist.
            “The Lady Most Willing…” is now on sale in bookstores and as an ebook.

Humanities series
            The UL-Lafayette Friends of the Humanities will offer a “Books and Films” course highlighting New Orleans, meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Feb. 20 through March 20, in Room 321 of Griffith Hall on the UL campus. The series will be taught by UL professor of English Dr. Mary Ann Wilson. 
            The cost is $75 for Friends of the Humanities members and $100 for others.             The highlight of the class will be a visit from author Ben Sandmel on March 6 to discuss his biography, “Ernie K-Doe: The R & B Emperor of New Orleans.”  The group will also read and discuss New Orleans-inspired short stories, the novel, “Almost Innocent” by Sheila Bosworth, and selections from the HBO television series, “Tremé.”  
             For those interested in attending the series, contact Wilson at (337) 298-0406 or email 
            Friends of the Humanities was established in 1989 as a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the role of the interdisciplinary humanities at UL Lafayette and in Acadiana; providing various means of support to the College of Art and the College of Liberal Arts; and strengthening the resources of UL's humanities program.

Spring Book Sale
            The Friends of the Lafayette Parish Library Spring Book Sale will be March 6-10 at the Heymann Convention Center ballroom, 1373 S. College.
            Due to the renovations of the main library downtown, Friends are asking people who wish to donate books to drop them off at the Library’s working warehouse on Refinery Street and Pinhook Road, located next to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Warehouse dropoff hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays; please ring the bell near the entrance for assistance. Staff members will be on hand to issue receipts for tax purposes.
            For more information or to become a member of the Friends of the Library, call 261-5781 or 501-9209.

Louisiana titles
            Through news sources, libraries, Facebook and many other outlets, I come across numerous authors publishing works today. The amount of authors in Louisiana is astounding. Here are a few I have gathered from the Terrebonne Parish Library’s web page when they hosted a recent local author’s day.
            In 1954 Johnnie Frank Griffin, the father of author Franklin Griffin, witnessed the violent death of Attorney General-elect Albert Patterson of Alabama. Six months later he told a grand jury what he knew and the next day he was stabbed. Griffin tells the tale in “Touched by Fire,” intersecting with mob bosses and CIA operations. For information, visit
            Ashleigh Blanchard of Montegut has published the young adult paranormal romance novel “Katia’s Stone” (based in Montegut) and the young adult novel, “Love Lies and Pregnancy.”
            Multi-published author Rhonda Dennis offers “The Green Bayou Novels” consisting of “Going Home,” “Awakenings,” “Déjà vu” and “Unforeseen,” fast-paced romantic suspense set in the sultry swamps of South Louisiana. To get a taste, visit
            Clifford and Diane LeGrange have produced a gorgeous coffee table book about the culture, folk life and physical landscape at the confluence of Bayou Pigeon and Grand River from the early 1800s to the present day in “Bayou Pigeon, Louisiana Spirit of the Atchafalaya.” For information, visit
            Jon Paul Olivier has penned a novel, “To Be Ordinary,” concerning Archie, who comes to the United States to attend college as far away from his father and to be ordinary like his friends. When he meets Erica, Archie struggles to reconcile who he wants to be with who he should be.
            Gibbens Robichaux has written a book about monkeys at a wedding and dealing with a hurricane, a lost girl and the president of the United States in “Monkeyworks.” Read more at
            Brigett Scott’s second novel, “The Game Warden’s Catch,” is a Boudreaux and Thibodaux fairy tale and the first in a planned series of Cajun love stories by the author. Beau Thibodaux is a Louisiana game warden who has his hands full with his new job. He gets more than he bargained for when Jolie Boudreaux walks through his office door with questions about a fishing violation he gave to her dead grandfather. Scott has also written a children’s book with her daughter Sabrina Scott titled “What’s That in Mom’s Belly?,” about a little girl scared about becoming a big-sister. For information, visit
             Veteran author June Shaw has published a new suspence novel titled “Approaching Menace,” where a young woman with a phobia of bad weather moves to the Gulf Coast to help her flighty mother take care of her ill little brother. When a hurricane develops, so does a killer whose attraction to his victims is their fear. For information, visit
            Jessica Tastet’s “Muddy Grave” takes place in Barbeaux Bayou, where resident traiteur Raleigh Cheramie stumbles across a local dead girl and the top suspects are the people closest to her. For information and to read excerpts, visit
            Ollie Voelker follows an Acadian family when they are exiled from Nova Scotia in 1755 in “Home at Last: An Acadian Journey.” Once in Maryland, the Martin family survives 11 years of hardship, hunger and discrimination. Always holding on to hope, however, they eventually make their way to Louisiana.

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