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