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