Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Orleans' Burst examines the city's sacred halls

            I had the pleasure of joining Covington author Deborah Burst for a tea at the luxurious Houma House Plantation to celebrate the launch of her “Hallowed Halls of Greater New Orleans: Historic Churches, Cathedrals and Sanctuaries,” published by The History Press.
            Anne Rice pens the foreword, and the book includes chapters on the city’s most famous and impressive churches, such as the St. Louis Cathedral of Jackson Square, the fascinating and once extremely popular St. Alphonsus, the Blessed Sacrament — St. Joan of Arc Church and the elegant Christ Episcopal Church Chapel on the North Shore, to name a few.
            The book is by no means comprehensive; I would think an encyclopedia would be required to handle all of the city’s churches. In her book, accented by lovely photos, Burst spotlights only several of the city’s churches while providing detailed information on architecture, history, artistry, people and the influence of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In addition, Burst concludes with a chapter on churches now used as other venues, such as the Redemption Restaurant, which many New Orleans residents will remember as Christian’s Restaurant, and the Marigny Opera House. An interesting chapter deals with architect Philip Cazalé, who built a network of 30 Romanesque Catholic churches and schools across Southern Louisiana.
            Let’s hope that this her debut book whets Burst’s appetite and more books on the city’s fascinating churches will follow.
            On a footnote, Houmas House offers an oversized gift shop with an extensive bookstore and art gallery in the back. The bookstore specializes in Louisiana books with a wide variety of titles, including cookbooks, children’s books, coffee table books and lots of history titles, as one might imagine. It’s one of the finest collections of Louisiana books I’ve seen in the state.

New releases
            Freelance journalist Todd Elliott of Lake Charles has written a book on Pres. Kennedy’s assassination based on stories he wrote for The Eunice News and Lagniappe Magazine. “A Rose By Many Other Names: Rose Cherami and The JFK Assassination” hits bookstore shelves this week, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the assassination. Melba Marcades, aka Rose Cherami, was arrested in Eunice 48 hours before the assassination, claiming the men she was traveling with were on their way to kill Kennedy that Friday in Dallas. Discounting clairvoyance, the book investigates the possibility that Cherami had inside information even though she was not a credible witness; Cherami was a prostitute, a one-time performer in Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club, an admitted drug trafficker, a drug addict and a car thief. The author also discusses omissions in her FBI files, questionable admissions regarding her criminal history and her death. 
            Last week I wrote that LSU forensic anthropologist Mary H. Manhein’s latest book, “Bones Remains: Cold Cases in Forensic Anthropology, was now on bookstore shelves. A review copy arrived shortly afterwards and I was able to sample the 20 cases from her files, a riveting collection of forensic stories. Not only will readers be amazed at the beauty of forensics used to solve both cold and recent cases, but the weird coincidences that brought the right people into Manhein’s life at just the right time to bring closure to victims’ families. Turn off the “CSI” and grab a copy of Manhein’s latest. Learn what real forensics is about and how Louisiana is at the forefront.
Hummingbird Day
            Every spring and fall migrating hummingbirds travel through South Louisiana on their long trek to Mexico. They stop and feed up on their way south, which is why Wild Birds Unlimited hosts a Hummingbird Day every fall. This year’s event is Saturday and begins with a banding demonstration from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. by Dave Patton at the home of Jack and Rose Must, 105 Hal Drive in Lafayette. At the store from 9:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nancy Newfield autographs her book, “Enjoying Hummingbirds More” and I will be autographing and talking about my newly released “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana.” Bob Adams and Barbara Kincannon will display their latest photography and Bruce Coen (yes, he’s related) will be offering a hummingbird storytime at 2 p.m.
            For more information, call 993-2473.

How to self-publish
            Farrah Rochon is a hybrid author, publishing traditionally with Harlequin Kimani Romance while self-publishing her own stories. She will discuss self-publishing Saturday, offering a crash course on publishing in the digital age from story conception to marketing your own eBook, at the Southern Louisiana chapter of the Romance Writers of America in New Orleans. 
            Rochon’s second installment of her New York Sabers football series, “I’ll Catch You,” was a 2012 RITA Award finalist and the first book in her Bayou Dreams series, “A Forever Kind of Love,” was a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice nominee. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at the Jefferson Parish Main Library, 4747 West Napoleon Ave. in Metairie. For more information, visit

Book events
            There will be a Multilingual Open Mic beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Thensted Center, 268 Church Street in Grand Coteau. Everyone is invited to participate in the language of their choice.
            I will be offering a workshop on creating intention bags from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Earth-n-Herbs in Grand Coteau. I will show participants have to make their own intention bag or sachet using specific herbs for specific intentions, such as good fortune, love and prosperity. Workshop materials will be provided but participants are encouraged to bring their own special ingredients such as stones and tokens. To register, call (337) 662-4022.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, 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