Sunday, June 30, 2013

Monroe's Joe Durham spotlights Winn Parish's Nightriders in new novel

         After the conclusion of the Civil War, an outlaw group by the name of the Nightriders for years terrorized Winn Parish. Members of the West and Kimbrell Clan moved at night, robbing and killing those they came in contact with and burying evidence.

            Joe Durham of West Monroe heard these tales from his father and family members and has written a historical novel based on the outlaws, titled “To Take Command of the Morning Light.”
            The story follows a family traveling west when the Nightriders attack and kill the parents. The children, two boys named Luke and Mark, happen to be in the nearby woods in different areas at the time of the assault, and both survive. Because of their separation, each believes the other is dead, and both boys are taken in by strangers.
           Durham is a former sportscaster who last wrote for The Ouachita Citizen. He has published three westerns, a genealogy book titled “The Durham's of Winn Parish, An Informal History” and a modern-day story about an LSU football player.
            Interestingly, Durham’s two great grandfathers belonged to the vigilante group that got rid of the West-Kimbrell Clan.

New releases
            Bill Loehfelm of New Orleans has published his first novel set in the Crescent City. Titled “The Devil in Her Way,” the book follows policewoman Maureen Coughlin heading to New Orleans after the death of her boss. Her first day on patrol, Maureen is brutally punched by a man bursting out of an apartment building. Her training officer laughs it off, and the incident even yields a small victory: The cops recover two pounds of weed and three guns in a shoe box. But as she watches the street, Maureen sees something transpire between two boys that leaves her shaken, and she’s sure that there’s more to this story than it seems. Loehfelm is the author of “The Devil She Knows,” “Bloodroot” and “Fresh Kills.”
            Sylvia Rochester has just released “Disrobed for Death,” a mystery she calls “cozy with a kick.” An expert in fashion and frills, main character Susan Griffin turns sleuth in hopes of stopping a murder and A.K., a 40-year-old cougar, insists on helping. Though well intentioned, these inept crime fighters soon find themselves in over their heads. The book is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Whiskey Creek Press.
             Congrats to three Louisiana writers on their first books! Peggy Henry Brooks of Log Cabin has published her first book, “The Stories My Children Didn’t Want to Hear” ( She writes that volume two will be coming soon. Darla Daley of Lake Charles has published a science fiction novel titled "@TheTavieColony" and Kesha Turner has published a collection of short stories set in Louisiana titled “A.”(CreateSpace). Both books are available at

Publisher connection
            After I mentioned in this column Joe Reese’s mystery, “Sea Change,” his publisher, Cozy Cat Press, wrote me. Owner and author Patricia Rockwell has a Louisiana connection. “I taught for 13 years at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette so I have a personal history in Louisiana,” she wrote. “Presently I am retired and live in Aurora, Ill., where I run my little company out of my upstairs study. I presently have over 20 authors and have produced over 30 books since I started back in 2010 — not bad for a little old lady.” The company gets its name from the “cozy” mysteries it publishes. For more information, visit

LSU Press
            “Black Aperture,” winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, has been published by LSU Press. In this debut collection, author Matt Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother’s suicide. The collection examines “the complicated entanglements of mourning: damage and healing, sorrow and laughter, and torment balanced with moments of relief,” according to the publisher’s press release. Rasmussen’s poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, H_NGM_N, and at A founding coeditor of Birds LLC, a small, independent poetry press, he is a 2012–2013 McKnight Artist Fellow and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College.
            The 2013 Lafayette National Poetry Slam Team — consisting of Rebecca Gypsy Doucet, Megan May May Bourque, Saysha Broussard, Robert Kindrick and Yah Yahfu Pen Bender — has been nominated by the National Poetry Awards in the category of 2013 “Slam Team Of The Year.”    The team was nominated along with 2007 and 2008 National Slam Team Champions Slam Charlotte, The 2001 National Poetry Slam Team Champions The Dallas Poetry Slam Team, The 2013 Golden State (California) Slam Team and the 2013 Red Dirt Poetry Slam Team out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

            The Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Contest, sponsored by the South Louisiana Romance Writers of America chapter, is taking entries now through July 15. The entry fee is $15 and includes the first five double-spaced pages of a manuscript and a one-page single-spaced synopsis. The top prize is a read of first place entries in each category by editors at The Wild Rose Press. 
For more details, visit SOLA’s website at

Book events
            The Writers Guild of Acadiana will host a workshop titled “Coping with Stress” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 13 at J and R Educational Supplies. Presented by Molly Cole, this workshop seeks to assist in alleviating the anxiety that is often felt in drafting and polishing the manuscript and in dealing with the difficulties of the publication process, whether the author chooses self-publishing or the traditional route. The cost is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. 

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 and pens the blog, Weird South. Write her at

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lafayette physician pens books to help children with illnesses

             Dr. Maitland DeLand is a 30-year Lafayette radiation oncologist who has seen her share of children and parents struggling with illnesses. To help them learn about and cope with their newly diagnosed diseases, she created the “The Great Katie Kate” children’s book series.
            Katie Kate is a young superhero who explains to children what is going on in their bodies and what will happen in terms of tests and treatment. In “The Great Katie Kate Discusses Diabetes,” for instance, the young superhero shows Andrew why diabetes disrupts his system and how to live with the disease.
            In each book Katie Kate is accompanied by the Worry Wombat, a large hairy animal who shrinks as the children learn more about their bodies and feel less anxious.
            DeLand specializes in the treatment of cancer in women and children and is president, CEO and owner of OncoLogics Inc., a group of clinical cancer practices throughout Louisiana. She serves as chairman of the Health Education Authority of Louisiana and is a member of the Professional Advisory Board.
            She is also a mother.
            “I’m a doctor but I’m also a single mother of two,” DeLand said in a press release. “My kids have endured significant medical issues including epilepsy, diabetes and asthma. So I know, from a parent’s perspective, what it’s like watching your children go through these difficult situations. My hope is that ‘The Great Katie Kate’ series will help both parents and children better understand and cope with their illnesses.”
            The other books in the series are “The Great Katie Kate Tackles Questions About Cancer” and “The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma.” The books are available on,, and through most major booksellers. For more information, visit

WWII Conference
            Several authors will be in attendance at the 2013 International Conference on World War II Nov. 21 through 23 at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. The theme is “1943: Victory in the Balance.” Authors include Rick Atkinson, Paul Kennedy, Donald L. Miller and Mark Stoler. General David Petraeus will be the keynote speaker. For more information, visit

Summer reading
            Deep South Magazine offers a wonderful summer reading list every year featuring Southern writers or Southern locales. For 2013, for instance, there’s Stephen King’s “Joyland,” set in a North Carolina amusement park, and “The Sassy Belles” by Beth Albright, involving football in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The magazine also highlights books every Friday as part of its “Literary Friday.” To find a good read and enjoy stories about the Deep South, visit

Fiction contest
            The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is offering its sixth annual fiction contest. Judges include Victor LaValle, whose “The Devil in Silver” was The New York Times Notable Book of 2012, and Emily Raboteau, author of the novel, “The Professor’s Daughter.”
            The deadline for submission is Nov. 15, and the winner will be announced by March 15, 2014. Submissions of a short story up to 7,000 words, written in English, are accepted by mail or online. The grand prize includes $1,500, domestic airfare and French Quarter accommodations to attend the next festival in New Orleans (March 19-23, 2014) and a VIP All-Access Festival pass. There will also be a public reading of the winning piece at the festival, and it will be published in Louisiana Literature Journal & Press. The Top Ten finalists will receive a panel pass to the next Festival as well.
            The festival offers one-act play contests as well.
            For information, visit

Book events
            Author’s Alley Book Sale and Signing will be 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. today, June 23, at Lafayette’s South Regional Library.
            Spoken Innovation Literary Organization and The Writers Guild of Acadiana presents The Lafayette Slam Team Benefit Showcase from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at The AOC Community Media Multi Purpose Room, 101 Jefferson St., Suite 101. The event features group piece performances by the 2013 Lafayette National Poetry Slam Team, a guest performance by The Vertical Barre and pole dancing. There will be an open mic, live music, raffle, door prizes and more. The event helps raise funds for the group to travel to the national slam competition in Boston. For information, visit
            The Berries, Bridges and Books Writers Conference will be Saturday, July 13, at Woodland Park Baptist Church, 1909 J.W. Davis Drive in Hammond. For more information contact or

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Walter's last cookbook a must for every Southern library

            Eugene Walter of Mobile loved Southern foodways, particularly spirits, and enjoying sharing this passion with the world. He was the author of “American Cooking: Southern Style,” in addition to being a novelist, screenwriter, costume designer, actor and more. 
             David Goodman, who manages the Eugene Walters estate, and Thomas Head of Louisiana, former executive wine and food editor of Washingtonian magazine, have edited a cookbook Walter was working on in his final years. “The Happy Table of EugeneWalter: Southern Spirits in Food and Drink” blends stories with food and cocktail recipes, with great explanations of both. Throughout it all is Walter’s dynamic personality shining through, a book that’s fun to read whether you’re interesting in cooking or not.
            In the press materials that came with the book are some recommendations from the editors. One of Goodman’s favorite cocktail, for instance, is The Milton Makeover, which I’m including below. I’ve been to Milton, Fla., and enjoyed the setting sun over the gorgeous Blackwater River. I can picture Walter sipping this cool drink on the river’s edge, a variation of the mint julep that’s good for late summer when mint is hard to find.

The Milton Makeover
1 kumquat
1 tangerine
1 orange
Cane sugar
Dark rum
Lemon juice
Candied orange peel or crystallized ginger for garnish
            Directions: Scrape only the outer skin of a few kumquats, tangerines, sweet oranges, or whatever combination of these you can conjure into a good quantity of best bourbon. Add a dash of cane sugar. Let sit an hour or so, then strain and chill well. Add a dash of dark rum. Add 1 or 2 drops of lemon juice. Pour over cracked ice in chilled mugs or tankards, garnish with 1 thin strip of candied orange or crystallized ginger, and serve after putting into icebox at least 15 minutes.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is coauthor of “Cooking in Cajun Country” with Karl Breaux and author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana.”

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Elston scores big with debut novel

            Ashley Elston of Monroe has published a young-adult thriller, “The Rules for Disappearing,” (Disney-Hyperion) in which a young teenager must reinvent herself for the sixth time. “Meg,” her current name, and her family have fled their home as part of the witness protection program. Without warning, due to a security breach, they are routinely whisked away to a new location. When the book opens, the young narrator has just become Meg and is being relocated to Natchitoches. 
             For a good part of the book, while Meg becomes reacquainted with her new school and the constant issues surrounding her family, the reader is unaware of what crime has occurred that has placed the family in witness protection. As the details become clearer, Meg’s ability to keep locals at a distance fails and her family’s troubles intensify. She can’t help falling for a Louisiana boy, which only complicates things further, but Ethan Landry may be just what Meg needs to find the truth.
            “Disappearing” keeps readers guessing until the last page and concludes with a satisfying resolution. Elston never lets up on the suspense, and I’ll be looking forward to the sequel, scheduled to be published next year.
            Elston is scheduled to appear at the Louisiana Book Festival on Nov. 2 in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit

Key to the Castle
            Lafayette life coach Sue Schleifer takes readers on a journey that’s part travelogue, more self-discovery in “The Key to the Castle: Zen and Travel Stories of Trust” (Journeys Press).
            Schleifer traveled extensively in her job at Backroads Bicycling Touring company and for personal retreats in various parts of the world. Though the reader travels with Schleifer in Thailand, France and Nepal, to name a few, the real treat is experiencing the high and lows of her meditation retreats in which she questions authority, has doubts, finds meaning and keeps asking the vital questions. It’s a lovely journey that resonates with heart.
             “This book brings us to the vast landscape of the journey and how the well-traveled soul is the soul that trusts the intelligence of spirit, or psyche, or mind, or heart — whatever you choose as the dominant guide in your own life,” writes former Louisiana poet laureate Darrell Bourque.           
            The book is available in digital editions and in print through and from Visit her on Facebook at

Looking for photos
            Jane F. Vidrine and Jean S. Kiesel, librarians at the UL-Lafayette Dupré Library, are compiling a book of vintage photographs and stories on Evangeline Parish. They are assembling historic images of Ville Platte, Mamou, Pine Prairie, Turkey Creek, Vidrine and other small communities within the parish, along with the stories that go with them. The book will be published by Acadia Publishing. To share your photos and stories, contact Vidrine at (337) 459-0284 or by Aug. 15.

New bookstore
            The Beacon is Oak Grove’s new independent Christian bookstore, located at 711 E. Main St. in Oak Grove. They stock books, balloons, greeting cards, church supplies and more, plus offer private meeting space, free Wifi and a future coffee shop. 

Artspace’s ‘EPIC’
            Artspace in Shreveport, home to book illustrator and author and film creator William Joyce, has on exhibit “The making of EPIC” until July 27. The exhibit is a collection of art by Joyce, chronicling the evolution from the children’s book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs” to the newly released animated film, “EPIC.” To accompany the art exhibit, Artspace has also created a children’s EPIC-themed play area downstairs that includes rope bridges suspended from trees, swings, slides and hands-on art sessions amidst the backdrop of a rainforest scene. Admission to the exhibit is free. The hands-on art sessions are $8 per person.

Let’s Talk!
            The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities received a $4,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA) to host a five-part reading and discussion series titled “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys.” The program seeks to familiarize U.S. citizens with the people, places, history, faith and cultures of Muslims. The program, titled “American Stories,” follows a series of texts about Americans of Muslim faith in history and contemporary times.  
             There will be two programs of “American Stories,” in Ruston and New Orleans. The texts to be read and discussed are: “Acts of Faith,” by Eboo Patel; “The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States,” edited by Edward Curtis IV; “A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America,” by Lelia Ahmed; “Prince among Slaves,” by Terry Alford; and “The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam,” by Willow Wilson.  
             The series in Ruston will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1 through 29, at Louisiana Tech’s University Hall; for information, call (318) 257-2872. The New Orleans series will be 6 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 19 through Oct. 17 at Norman Mayer Branch Library, 3001 Gentilly Blvd.; for information, call (504) 596-3100.

Book events
            Bloomsday, a celebration of James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 16, at the Irish House, 1432 St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans. Featuring guest readers are John Joyce, The Brothers Goat (Michael Jeffrey Lee and Christopher Hellwig), Vincent Cellucci, Pandora Gastelum, Herbert Kearney, and Susan Larson. Participants are welcome to read, up to 10 minutes.
            Laura Moriarty will sign “The Chaperone” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. “The Chaperone” centers around the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in the 1920s and the summer that would change them both. On Thursday, June 20, at the bookstore, David Berg of Houston discusses and signs “Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family” at 5:30 p.m. In 1968 David Berg’s brother, Alan, was murdered by Charles Harrelson — notorious hit man and father of Woody Harrelson. Alan was 31 when he disappeared and for more than six months his family did not know what had happened to him — until his remains were found in a ditch in Texas.
            Author’s Alley Book Sale and Signing will be 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at the South Regional Library in Lafayette.

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

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A cold brew and some sweet onion pie!

            For home brewers, or a Father’s Day gift idea for someone contemplating brewing, here are two wonderful new how-to books on the market that break down the process in easy steps.
            “Brewing Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Beer at Home” by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher is a perfect example, providing information on everything one needs to get started, from an examination of grains, to the equipment needed.
             “The reasons people have for brewing their own beer are many,” the authors attest. “But for most of us, it comes down to three essential goals: saving money, improving on flavor, and having fun.”
            Brewmaster Dave Miller gives his professional insight to home brewers in “Brew Like A Pro: Make Pub-Style Draft Beer at Home.” This book take home brewing up a notch and is perfect for those with a few batches under their belts. 
             For those who rather taste than create, there’s “Tasting Beer: An insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink” by Randy Mosher. Like a study of wine, the book looks at the different styles of beers, where beers are made, the pairing of beer and food and much more.

Sweet Georgia Pie
            June means one thing in Lafayette, Louisiana — the Evangeline Shriners are selling Vidalia onions! I picked up a giant bag this week and have been busy working through those deliciously sweet onions.  Here’s an easy recipe from the Vidalia Onion Committee in Georgia that’s bound to go well with a cold craft brew.

Sweet Vidalia Pie
By Sabrina Toole
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
3 large tomatoes (sliced thin and drained)
1 cup Vidalia onions (sliced thin)
One 9-inch deep dish pie shell (cooked according to directions)
1 pound bacon (fried and crumbled)
            Direction: Combine cheeses and mayonnaise. Place tomatoes and Vidalia onions in baked pie shell. Spread mayonnaise mixture over the top. Sprinkle with bacon and spring Vidalia onions (salad onions — if in season) to garnish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Charlaine Harris ends popular Sookie Stackhouse series with 'Dead Ever After'

             Charlaine Harris introduced the world to Sookie Stackhouse, a fiery blond telepath living in north Louisiana who discovers vampires after sympathetic blood allows them to “come out of the coffin.” After more than a decade of Sookie novels and the adaptation of the story into “True Blood” on HBO, Harris concludes the series with “Dead Ever After.”
             Almost all of the plotlines and major characters converge in this last story as Sookie is arrested for the murder of Arlene, an old friend who turned on Sookie in a previous book. On top of it all, Sookie’s vampire lover Eric Northman must make hard decisions regarding his life and career and Sookie appears the loser in the deal. 
            I hesitate to say too much for giving away the ending, but I will say the conclusion met with my expectations and I came away happy for her choice of partners, even if it was a little lackluster in the passion department. Harris’ ultimate wrap-up made the most sense, giving Sookie a realistic future but leaving enough threads hanging for us to make up our own minds.
            Kudos for Harris for producing a successful series and bringing the world to “Bon Temps, Louisiana.”           

Team Renaissance
            Advertiser columnist Jan Risher worked with organizational consultant Richard Spoon to produce a gorgeous book on building working teams in “Team Renaissance: The Art, Science and Politics of Great Teams,” (Old Man River Publishing).
            The book is geared towards organizations, aiming to veer them away from training employees for the company good without lighting passions individually. Instead, the authors encourage bringing people together to build something they care for, something they believe is meaningful.
            The book’s recurring logo is the arch, representing how “individual pieces hold the arch together, uniting to form a design that allows for the equal distribution of weight across the entire structure.” Within this design are the skills necessary to build a successful organization, with each piece its own chapter.
             Easy to read, loaded with great information and beautifully laid out, “Team Renaissance” is a great resource for businesses looking to build effective teams.
After the Ball
            Carnival is magical on so many levels, but often times we take for granted the work that goes into the costumes, floats and tableaux. Larry Youngblood spent 52 years working as a costume designer for New Orleans Carnival krewes, in addition to working for theaters, opera, ballets, weddings, the city’s Spring Fiesta and more. He created costumes for celebrities Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Dennis Quaid, Robert Goulet and Jim Nabors as well as Carnival queens and princesses. 
             His niece Elizabeth Canik of Covington tells his life story, along with vivid illustrations of costume designs, in “After the Ball is Over: Mardi Gras Designer Larry Youngblood Looks Back on His 50 Years of Costumes and Memories,” published by Bookstand Publishing.
            It’s a great insider’s guide to the Carnival scene, with wonderful anecdotes by Youngblood. You’ll never take the pageantry for granted again!

New releases
            Of course, he’s happy! Phil Robertson, star of the reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” has released his autobiography “Happy, Happy, Happy,” and the book debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list of hardcover nonfiction.
            The spring edition of The Southern Review is out with a short story by James Lee Burke, 21 poets and fascinating photographed dioramas by artist Lori Nix, among much more. The literary journal is published four times a year on the campus of LSU and available online and in bookstores.
            Acadiana fiddler David Greely has self-published “The Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music, Volumes I and II: A French/English Interlinear Translation,” a Cajun French lyric book with the words to the Balfa Brothers’ first two albums. The English translation is interlinear, he posted on Facebook. “Each French word has its strictly literal English counterpart directly underneath it, so that you can see exactly what you are saying in the same word order as the original French.” Greely used both the book and method of teaching at the Balfa Camp this year. For more information, visit
            J. Michael Desmond looks at the origins and evolution of LSU’s campus in “TheArchitecture of LSU,” published by LSU Press. “J. Michael Desmond’s book is itself a monument to the architecture of LSU,” said Charles E. Schwing, former president of the American Institute of Architects. “It is a delightful and engrossing history that delves into the little-known facts about the unique buildings that make Louisiana State University distinctive.” Desmond taught architectural history and design for 25 years and earned his bachelor’s degree of architecture from LSU.
            “SomeKinds of Love: Stories” by Steve Yates (University of Massachusetts Press) offers 12 stories set in the Missouri Ozarks, New Orleans, and Mississippi, and looks at “lovers clawing back from precipices of destructiveness, obsessiveness, cruelty, vanity, or greed.” 
            This month, Lenora Worth of Louisiana publishes her sixth romance novel in her Texas K-9 series with “Lone Star Protector.”
            “TheAxman of New Orleans,” a fictional account of an historical character in early 1900s New Orleans, by Charles (Chuck) Hustmyre of Baton Rouge was released by Margaret Media, a Louisiana publisher. An ebook version has been sold on, but this is the first print copy of the novel. Hustmyre is author of “Killer with a Badge” (the Antoinette Frank story), “Unspeakable Violence,” “Killer Like Me” and “House of the Rising Sun.”

Book events
            “Deep Blues: Human Soundscape for the Archetypal Journey” will be the presentation by Mark Winborn, a Jungian analyst from Memphis, at 2 p.m. June 9 at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 400 Camelia Blvd. The event is sponsored by the C.G. Jung Society of Lafayette and based on Winborn’s recently published book, “Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey.” The presentation will explore the archetypal journey of the human psyche through an examination of the blues as a musical genre and be augmented by visual images, audio recordings and video.
            The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators presents a Skype presentation by Kelly Milner Halls, Seattle-based author of more than 30 books and 1,500 magazine articles, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, on the third floor of the UNO Bicentennial Education Building, Founders Road, New Orleans. The cost is $15 SCBWI Members, $20 nonmembers. A critique meeting will follow. For information, visit
            J. Bruce Fuller and Elizabeth Burk will read from their works from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Carpe Diem! Gelato and Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson St., Lafayette, as part of Voices in Summer. The reading is open to the public and free. Fuller is a Louisiana native and has just published “Notes to a Husband” (Imaginary Friend Press, 2013) and “Lancelot” (Lazy Mouse Press, 2013). Burk is a psychologist who currently divides her time between a practice in New York and southwest Louisiana. Her chapbook, “Learning to Love Louisiana,” was recently published by Yellow Flag Press. For more information, contact Clare L. Martin at or (337) 962-5886.

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

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cookbook Thursday: Writers' Guild of Acadiana publishes recipe collection as fundraiser

          The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets at 7 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month at Barnes & Noble, offering great information and networking opportunities to aspiring and published writers. To help finance their ongoing workshops, motivational speakers, writer’s conferences and support of the local literary scene, the WGA has published a cookbook full of great recipes from members, their friends and family. And you know being that it hails from Acadiana, it has to be good!  
            The hardbound cookbook of “Stirring Stories & Baking Memories” sells for $10 (what a bargain!) and includes appetizers, beverages, soups, salads, sides, entrees, desserts and breads. You can pick one up at any Guild meeting or by sending $10 plus $3 postage to: Writers’ Guild of Acadiana, P.O. Box 51532, Lafayette, LA 70505-1532. For more information, write
            Here’s a fun and easy side dish to bring to a potluck or enjoy at home, compiled by Jeannette Poole of Opelousas. “I first tasted this at Marbane Farms (Plaisance) in 1970,” Poole writes in the cookbook. “My sister-in-law Elizabeth had made this for a family gathering on Easter Sunday.”

Corn Casserole
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces sour cream
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cream style corn
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
            Directions: In a large bowl beat eggs and add sugar. Add sour cream. Stir in both cans of corn. Stir in Jiffy mix and cheese. Pour into a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish that has been well greased. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Holledge's 'Scattered' reviewed; Bourque's new book of poetry released

            Lafayette lawyer, author and director of the Acadian Museum in Erath Warren Perrin wrote me to recommend “The Scattered,” a new novel by Richard Holledge based on the life of Jambo LeBlanc who was deported from Grand Pré, Acadie (now Nova Scotia), who came to Louisiana in 1785.
             “There are many history books written about the Acadian deportation and plenty of information about the plight of the exiles in the British colonies,” Perrin wrote. “However, what was missing — until now — was the drama, the pain and the suffering handed out by the ruthless British dramatized by the horror of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ suffered by the Acadians through the life of Joseph ‘dit Jambo’ LeBlanc, the victim — and hero — of his book.  
            “Holledge succeeds best at describing not just the farmlands of Acadie, but also the actual mood of the Acadians under British occupation,” Perrin continues.  “Many of his characters react heroically, some cynically, all making for excellent reading. 
            “Holledge, a former newspaper editor with several UK national newspapers, including the Times and the Independent, does justice to the Grand Dérangement and honors our ancestors,” Perrin concludes.

Bourque’s latest
            Former Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque has compiled a new collection of poetry titled “Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie,” published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. The book is divided into three sections, the first a diverse set of contemporary poems mostly set in Acadiana, the second a bridge that includes “Megan’s Guitar” and the third a 27-sonnet sequence that deals with the Acadian expulsion from Acadie, or the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
            There’s the horse race behind T-Maurice’s Dancehall, the rhythms of life celebrated in “Church Point Breakdown” and the brief but powerful poem about Karina titled simply “August 2005.” Other poems celebrate paintings and painters, the historical figures of 18th Century Acadie and everyday contemplations. For those looking for great examples of Bourque’s work, this new set of poetry is a gem.
            Bourque will kick off his “The Bayou Teche Reading Tour” for “Megan's Guitar” at 7 p.m. Thursday at Joie de Vivre Cafe in Breaux Bridge. Other sites will include Arnaudville, Loreauville, New Iberia and St. Martinville when the tour ends on Aug. 15 with a reading at the Acadian Memorial as part of National Acadian Day.   

Book News
            “Hell or High Water: How Cajun Fortitude Withstood Hurricanes Rita and Ike” by Ron Thibodeaux recently won two awards, a silver Independent Publisher Book Award in the category of Southern Regional Nonfiction and the National Grand Prize in Regional Nonfiction from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
            Yvette Landry’s children’s book “The Ghost Tree” has been selected as the Louisiana book for the National Book Festival’s Pavilion of the States to be held in Washington, D.C. Visitors to the pavilion can pick up a Discover Great Places through Reading brochure, which includes a map and a list of books, “Great Reads about Great Places,” with one title from each state.
            “Dirty Rice: A Season in the Evangeline League” and “Grand Coteau” by the UL Press were both named by ForeWord Reviews as finalists in their 2012 Book of the Year Awards. Finalists were selected from 1,300 entries covering 62 categories of books from independent and academic presses. “Dirty Rice,” a novel set in the midst of the Great Depression about minor league baseball in South Louisiana, is a finalist in the General Adult Fiction category. “Grand Coteau,” a photographic record of a unique, historic Louisiana town that spans 35 years, is a finalist in the Adult Non-Fiction Photography category. The winners will be announced at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Chicago on June 28.

Writing classes
            Patrice Melnick will be offering a non-fiction writing class from June 6 through July 27 in Grand Coteau. Melnick is the author of “Po-boy Contraband: from Diagnosis Back to Life” and “Turning up the Volume.” She wrote the text for John Slaughter’s photography book, “Grand Coteau” and writes a monthly column for the Daily World called “Up on the Ridge,” about life in Grand Coteau. Melnick taught English and creative writing at Xavier University in New Orleans for 13 years, establishing the first creative writing minor at an historic black college or university. She also taught a literary nonfiction workshop in the low-residency MFA program at the University of New Orleans. For information, email or call (337) 254-9695.
            The 2013 WORD Up Youth Writing Camp for students in grades 4-12 will be 9 a.m. to noon July 22-26 at LSU-Eunice with instructors Chrissy Soileau and Jill Dover. The fee is $75. For registration information, visit
            An All-Day Self-Editing Workshop, sponsored by the South Louisiana Romance Writers of America with instructor Liz Pelletier, editor/co-owner of Entangled Publishing, will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 22 at Andrea’s Restaurant, 3100 19th St. in Metairie. The fee is $85 SOLA members, $90 members and includes a light breakfast and lunch, plus pitch times from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
For information, visit

Book events
            Former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque will kick off his “The Bayou Teche Reading Tour” for “Megan's Guitar” at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at Joie de Vivre Cafe in Breaux Bridge.      
            Claire Manes will sign “Out of the Shadow of Leprosy” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
            Charlene Henry will give a lecture on “Dreams, Creativity and the Cajun Culture” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, in Oliver Hall on the UL-Lafayette campus as part of the Friends of the Humanities. The event is free.
            “Deep Blues: Human Soundscape for the Archetypal Journey” will be the presentation by Mark Winborn, a Jungian analyst from Memphis, at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at  St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 400 Camelia Blvd. The event is sponsored by the C.G. Jung Society of Lafayette and based on Winborn’s recently published book, “Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey.” The presentation will explore the archetypal journey of the human psyche through an examination of the blues as a musical genre and be augmented by visual images, audio recordings and video.

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