Sunday, March 17, 2013

Entries now being accepted for annual Ernest J. Gaines Award; new releases of Louisiana titles

            Entries are being accepted through April 30 for the seventh annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, an honor that comes with a $10,000 cash prize. Sponsored by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, The Ernest J. Gaines award is meant to inspire and recognize excellence among rising African-American writers and to honor Gaines as one of the world’s most celebrated authors. The New Orleans Times-Picayune called the award the “nation’s biggest prize for African-American writers.” A Louisiana native, Gaines’ critically acclaimed novel, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” was adapted into a 1974 made-for-TV movie that received nine Emmy awards. His 1993 book, “A Lesson Before Dying,” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. For information, visit

New releases
            Arthur Mitchell, born in 1915 a descendent of slaves on the Jons Plantation in Ironwood, Louisiana, was told a story about the descendents of a beautiful young slave girl from East Central Africa sold in 1810 to a French farmer in the New Orleans area. Mitchell later wrote these stories down and his original 150-page, hand-written memoir was lost in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, when the levee broke near his house in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. One copy was preserved by Gayle Nolan, who has edited and prepared the manuscript for publication, and that book is now “What Love Can Do: Recollected Stories of Slavery and Freedom in New Orleans and the Surrounding Area” by Arthur Mitchell, published by Balboa Press. 
            Daniel Brook of New Orleans has published “A History of Future Cities,” looking at St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai and Dubai. He focuses on the cultural and historical threads that connect these cities and their conflicted embrace of modernity.           
            Christa Allen has released a new love story titled “Love Finds You in New Orleans, Louisiana,” where young Adelaide LeClerc is about to wed a man she dreads. Orphaned at a young age, Adelaide’s future hangs in the balance as her grandparents consider whether to stop keeping secrets and reveal the truth that they’ve known since before Adelaide’s birth — a truth that will make the difference between a life of obligation and a life of choice for Adelaide.
            Monique O’Connor of Denham Springs writes about a spoiled college student trying to find her way in the real world in “Becoming Jolie,” set in the fictional town of Follette, Louisiana. The small town has been plagued by ghost sightings and a rash of missing children and Jolie is convinced everyone in town is crazy — except Hutch Landry and his brother Tucker. Published by Bayou Brew Publishing, the book is available from Amazon.
             Markeitha Bergeron White has self-published a children’s picture book that’s a Cajun twist on the little piggy went to market nursery rhyme titled “A Cajun Pig Tale,” illustrated by Erin Taylor. The book is available at The Coffee Depot and the Begnaud House in Scott and The Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge.   
            This week from LSU Press, Ron Smith’s “Its Ghosty Workshop,” a collection of poems from the Mediterranean to the American West, drawn from the lives of notable and diverse figures such Edward Teller, Edgar Allan Poe, Mickey Mantle, Ezra Pound, Robert Penn Warren, Jesse Owens, Leni Riefenstahl and many others. Smith is the author of the poetry collections “Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery” and “Moon Road,” and is the poetry editor for “Aethlon: The Journal of Sports Literature.”
            The University of North Carolina Press is publishing a collection of small cookbooks that spotlight specific foods, many of which are indigenous to the South. For instance, the “Savor the South” series includes “Pecans” by Kathleen Pruvis, full of pecan recipes, pecan history, tips on cooking with pecans and their nutritional value, and “Buttermilk” by Debbie Moose, which examines the great cooking ingredient and offers 50 recipes, most of which are uniquely Southern. And there are more to come.

Book events
            Ronlyn Domingue will sign copies of her latest novel, “The Mapmaker’s War,” at a “Meet & Greet the Author” from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at The Cottage Shoppe of Acadiana, 800 E. Broussard Road, Lafayette.
            Craig B. Smith will visit the World War II Museum in New Orleans at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 21, to discuss his book, “Counting the Days,” which tells the story of six prisoners of war imprisoned by both sides during the Pacific Theatre.
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