Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cookbook Thursday: Poppy Tooker's Louisiana tour

            New Orleans native Poppy Tooker loves Louisiana food. She promotes it weekly on her radio show, “Louisiana Eats!,” now airing at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KRVS in Lafayette. She’s been proclaimed a “Hero of the New South” by Southern Living magazine and gave Bobby Flay a run for his money when her gumbo beats his in “Throwdown with Bobby Flay.”
            Tooker’s new cookbook, “Louisiana Eats! The People, the Food and Their Stories” has just been published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans and contains 15 interviews from her radio show, with recipes of course, plus photographs by David G. Spielman. Interviewees include Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase, Randy Fertel, son of Ruth Chris Steakhouse founder Ruth Fertel and, locally, Karlos Knott of Bayou Teche Brewing and Kurt Unkel of Cajun Grain.           
            Like most New Orleanians writing cookbooks, it leans more toward the Crescent City and would be more aptly named “New Orleans Eats!” But if you love reading about Louisianans who love Louisiana food, this cookbook’s for you.
            Below is a recipe contributed to the book by Knott, a more filling take on a traditional Cajun nighttime meal.

Cornbread Supper
From “Louisiana Eats! The People, the Food and Their Stories”
1 12-inch skillet of cornbread
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 pound smoked sausage, diced (feel free to substitute or combine with andouille, tasso, ham or shrimp, as desired)
1/4 cup butter
3 cloves, garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 cups chicken stock, plus additional if needed
            Directions: Crumble the cornbread in a large bowl. In a skillet, sauté the onion, celery, bell pepper, green onions, and sausage in the butter until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme.
            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour sausage mixture into the bowl with the cornbread and add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste, parsley and chicken stock. Stir to mix and add more chicken stock only if the mixture is not moist enough. Adjust seasonings if needed.
            Spread the cornbread mixture in an 11-inch by 7-inch lightly greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, remove the foil, and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Book events
      Kat Robinson will sign copies of her new travelogue cookbook, "Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley," at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. Robinson is the author of "Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State," which I reviewed for the Monroe News-Star earlier this year and the Acadiana Gazette in Lafayette.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” both from The History Press.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Orleans ghosts redux

            It’s been said that New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in America, with tales of the supernatural dating back centuries. Native Jeanne deLavigne proved as much in her 1944 collection, “Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans.”
            This fall, LSU Press reprinted the assemblage of 40 ghost stories, some of them drawing on 18th and 19th century legends, complemented by the macabre etchings of New Orleans artist Charles Richards. Stories include the spurned lover who perished naked on a French Quarter rooftop, the famous Lalaurie Mansion ghosts of slaves (this season’s “American Horror Story” on FX uses them in its storyline) and my favorite, the ghost of the Carrollton Jail. Folklorist and LSU professor emeritus of English Frank de Caro writes the book’s foreword and reports new information about deLavigne’s life, who also collaborated with Jacques Rutherford on the novels “And the Garden Waited” and “Fox Fire.”

Louisiana Book Festival
            The 10th annual Louisiana Book Festival takes over the State Capitol and grounds, the Louisiana State Library, State Museum and Welcome Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Baton Rouge. There will be author presentations, lectures, live musical performances, storytelling, booksignings, children’s activities and much more. In addition, there will be Wordshops for aspiring writers on Friday at the State Library.
            Special events include:
            The inaugural Louisiana exhibition of The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition will be on display on the first floor of the State Library during the Louisiana Book Festival. The Heritage Edition is a full-size fine art edition of the original Bible — the first handwritten illuminated Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the advent of the printing press.
            The Louisiana Book Festival’s community reading program, One Book, One Festival, is featuring “The House on Coliseum Street” by New Orleans author Shirley Ann Grau. This annual event encourages all festivalgoers to read the same book and participate in a discussion, this year by Southern literature scholar Gary Richards, who chairs the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication at the University of Mary Washington. In a separate festival event, Grau will be interviewed by author and blogger Wendy Rodrigue, exploring her early novels.
            For more information, visit

Bridge to Publication
            The Bayou Writers Group, Inc.’s annual conference, A Bridge to Publication, will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the University United Methodist Church (Safe Harbor Center), 3501 Patrick St. in Lake Charles. Speakers include filmmakers Glen Pitre and Michelle Benoit on “The ABCs of Screenwriting: Action, Believable Plots, and Characters;” Amanda T. Graves, “Getting yourself out there! Collaborating with School Librarians for Authors;” and DiAnn Mills, “Self-Editing for the Professional Writer” & “Creating Powerful Emotion.” Several agents and an editor will accept pitches from writers as well. For more information, visit

            November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where writers are challenged to pen 55,000 words in one month and release the inner critique that often keeps us from writing. To assist novel writers, Dupré Library will host three events: “Write-ins” from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Nov. 15 at the Ernest J. Gaines Center (where writers can work on their novels with power outlets available for laptops) and a “Thank Goodness It’s Over Party” from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Dupré Library staff lounge. For more information, contact librarian Allison Gallaspy at 482-6033 or

Book events
            I will tell Lafayette's ghost stories from my book “Haunted Lafayette” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Carpe Diem Gelato & Espresso Bar in downtown Lafayette, as part of the Voices in Fall literary series. I will also be discussing ghostly tales at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Louisiana Book Festival.
            Louisiana Cultural Vistas columnist and Tulane University professor Richard Campanella presents Arrivals, a three-part series examining previous population influxes in New Orleans. This week’s event looks at post-Civil and early 20th century New Orleans at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, with panelists Campanella and Keith Weldon Medley. LEH President/Executive Director Dr. Michael Sartisky moderates. The series is free and open to the public.
            Terri Hoover Dunham signs “The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story” from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at The Quilt Corner, 13579 Hooper Road in Greenwell Springs. 

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dixie Kane winners announced

Southern Louisiana RWA
congratulates the winners of
the 8th Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Contest

Overall Winner in all Categories
Patricia Warner,  Historical Category, Love Moves Mountains

Erotic Romance
First Place (Tie)
The Blue Plate Special by M. B. Daniel
Quick and Dirty by Bonnie Kidd
Second Place
The Captive by Allison Gordin
Third Place
The Amorous Adventures of Granny Grace by I M Flambeau
Honorable Mention
The Erotic Escapades of Earline Evers by I M Flambeau

Historical Romance
First Place
Love Moves Mountains by Patricia Warner
Second Place
The Untied Knot by Barbara A. Partridge
Third Place
Angel and the Devil Duke by Regina Jeffers
Honorable Mention
The Privateer by Elizabeth Bysiek

First Place
River of Dreams by Jan M. Lugenbuhl
Second Place (Tie)
Rosemary's Awakening by Donan Berg
Amanda by Donan Berg
Third Place
Storm Windows by Duncan B. Putney
Honorable Mention
The Breaking of Styrma by Paul Stuart Vogt

Novel w/Strong Romantic Elements
 First Place
Katyusha by Marina Osipova
Second Place (Tie)
Alexa by Donan Berg
Echo by Kate James
Third Place
March Fools & April's Flowers by Rose Marie Sand
Honorable Mention
Black Knight, White Knight by M. B. Daniel

 First Place
A Matter of Love and Death by Bonnie Rehage
Second Place
Valor by Jessica Tastet
Third Place (Tie)
Eternal Seduction by Sasha Cain
The Witch Assassin by Bonnie Rehage
Divergent Bloodline by TJ Shaw
Honorable Mention
His Magic Touch by Deborah Grahl

Romantic Suspense
First Place
A Child of my Own by Joyce Hunt
Second Place
Prodigal Sins by M. B. Daniel
Third Place
Jeanette and Company by Jacqueline Baron
Honorable Mention
The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy by Regina Jeffers

Short/Long Series Contemporary
First Place
Skater's Waltz by Margaret-Mary Jaeger
Second Place
Bippity Boppity Boo by Brenda Moguez
Third Place
The Voodoo That You Do by Alisha Vincent
Honorable Mention
A Rude Awakening by Chloe C. Grimes

Single Title Contemporary
First Place
Cooking with Kandy by Margaret-Mary Jaeger
Second Place (Tie)
By Proxy by Katy Regnery
 Sophie by Jane LaBreche Hebert
Third Place
Thirty First Dates by Stacey Wiedower
Honorable Mention
Masquerading with the CEO by Dawn Chartier

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Paranormal book events, plus new releases, festivals

             It’s going to be a fun October.
            First, I’ll be joining Lafayette author Camilla Hunt Cole from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble for a paranormal book signing (our pens will be acting of their own accord!). Cole has published “Long Shadows,” a Southern Gothic psychological mystery that concerns a 17-year-old girl who is trapped with her four colorful aunts in her family’s sinister antebellum home by horrors her forefathers committed there more than 100 years before.
             Next, I’ll head over to Arnaudville where I’ll join mediums Vicky Cormier and Allyson Glynn Schram and Cajun Traiteur Becca Begnaud for a “Coffee, Tea and Spirit” discussion from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Little Big Cup. The talk will be followed by a booksigning of my ghost collection, “Haunted Lafayette.”
            Next up is “Otherworldly Voices,” part of the Voices Seasonal Reading Series, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Carpe Diem! Gelato – Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson St. in downtown Lafayette. I’ll be reading from “Haunted Lafayette” and telling local ghost tales, and Carpe Diem! will serve up seasonal gelato.
            Hope to see you there.

New releases
            The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press has compiled more than 100 paintings of Dennis Paul Williams, with a portrait of Williams by book editor Philip Gould and an overview of his art by former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque, in “Soul Exchange: The Paintings of Dennis Paul Williams. The St. Martinville native was driven as a child to draw, paint and explore artistic materials as he embraced his Creole heritage, where every aspect of life revolves around faith, celebration and beauty. Williams has works in numerous museums in the United States and beyond and many of his paintings can also be found in private collections around the world. Williams has also performed in his brother’s band, Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas. He will be signing “Soul Exchange” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on the UL campus.
            David Middleton has published a collection of poetry rooted in personal and regional history titled “The Fiddler of Driskill Hill,” published by LSU Press. Born in Shreveport, Middleton served as professor of English, Poet-in-Residence, Distinguished Service Professor, Alcee Fortier Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Languages and Literature at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
            New Orleans was home to numerous authors but where did they pen their famous tales? Angela Carll shows readers “Where Writers Wrote in New Orleans,” newly released by Margaret Media. The cover and introduction was created by Eugene Cizek, with pen and ink drawings of various buildings by the late Lloyd Sensat with a few by Cizek.
            Jana DeLeon, a native of southweset Louisiana, has just released her latest Miss Fortune Mystery titled “Louisiana Longshot,” where CIA assassin Fortune Redding is about to undertake her most difficult mission ever in Sinful, Louisiana. The book was listed No. 2 on the self-published best-seller list last week. Her latest mystery, “Swamp Sniper,” came out last month. For more information, visit
Inaugural reading
            Louisiana’s new state poet laureate, Ava Leavell Haymon, will be formally presented and perform her first official reading at 6 p.m. Thursday at Louisiana Humanities Center, 938 Lafayette St. in New Orleans. The event begins with a reception, followed by the introduction and reading. Books will be available for sale by Garden District Books. 
            The reading continues a tradition that began with 2009-11 poet laureate Darrell Bourque and continued with Julie Kane’s first official appearance in 2011. 

Book festivals
            Festival of Words, a literary event that offers workshops in the public schools, drive-by poetry, public readings by big-name authors and much more, will be Nov. 7-9 in Grand Coteau. To reach their fund-raising goals, the festival has created a Kickstarter account with a Nov. 5 deadline at
            The Louisiana Book Festival will be Saturday, Nov. 2, on the Capitol grounds in Baton Rouge. Novelist, essayist and screenwriter Christine Wiltz has been named recipient of the this year’s Louisiana Writer Award for 2013 and will be recognized during the festival. The Louisiana Writer Award is chosen annually by a State Library-appointed committee to recognize extraordinary contributions to Louisiana’s literary and intellectual life. Wiltz is the author of five novels, all set in New Orleans, as well as numerous articles and essays that have appeared in such publications as the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times and Louisiana Life.
            The Louisiana Writer Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to the literary and intellectual life of Louisiana. Past recipients include novelists James Lee Burke, Ernest J. GainesShirley Ann GrauElmore LeonardTim GautreauxValerie MartinJames Wilcox and John Biguenet; children’s author William Joyce; poets Yusef Komunyakaa and William Jay Smith; historian Carl A. Brasseaux; and scholar Lewis P. Simpson.

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

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wendy Rodrigue explains 'Other Side of the Painting' in new memoir

            There are days when I would sell my soul for a few more hours, just enough to crawl into a comfy chair and relish the crisp fall weather and a good book.
            So it was this week enjoying Wendy Rodrigue’s “The Other Side of the Painting,” a collection of essays that make up both her personal history and that of her New Iberia husband, artist George Rodrigue.
            The compilation resulted from her popular blog, “Musings of An Artist’s Wife,” which began in 2009. The UL-Lafayette published book tells the story of George Rodrigue from the eye of an artist lover, showcasing George’s early foray into art, finding his style beneath oak trees and with a Blue Dog and their lives together. Each essay offers a peek behind the scenes, where a local man we can surprisingly relate to well produces world-renowned art.
            The writing is crisp and entertaining yet informal and fun, accented by Wendy Rodrigue’s undeniable passion for the arts.
            I found personal favorites among the essays, but then I kept reading and discovered more. And more. It’s a book you can imagine enjoying at leisure, but then difficult to put down.
            Oh for a few more hours in a day.
Lafayette Library happenings
            C.R. “Rusty” Cloutier, president and CEO of MidSouth Bank and author of “Big Bad Banks,” will be the special guest of the Friends of the Lafayette Public Library’s annual Author Dinner. The social aspect of the event begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, with a dinner buffet following at 7 p.m. at the Petroleum Club in Lafayette. Admission is $25 per person and the reservation deadline is noon Tuesday; call (337) 984-8661.
            Need some accessories for the upcoming Steampunk and Makers Fair, hosted by the Lafayette Science Museum & Cité des Arts on Nov. 9? There will be a Steampunk Jewelry and Thingamajigs workshop from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the South Regional Library in Lafayette and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the North Regional Library.

New releases
            Jonathan Fowler and Earle Lockerby have published an account of a man embarking from Boston in 1755 to capture the French Fort Beauséjour at Chignecto, located on the present-day border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. “Jeremiah Bancroft at Fort Beausejour & Grand-Pre (Diaries of the Acadian Deportations)” offers an eyewitness account of the deportation of the Acadians in the Grand-Pré area. Edited, introduced and annotated by Fowler and Lockerby, and supported with maps and illustrations, this publication marks the first appearance of Bancroft’s diary in book form. It also launches “Diaries of the Acadian Deportations,” a new series of history books aimed at attentive readers of Canadian history.

Book events
            Margaret Gibson Simon and her father, John Gibson, have collaborated on a book of art and poetry titled “Illuminate.” They will be signing the book from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at A&E Gallery in New Iberia.
            Judyth Vary Baker, author of “Me and Lee: How I Came To Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald,” and Louisiana reporter and author Todd Elliott, author of “A Rose by Many Other Names,” will be the featured speakers at a Saturday symposium at Loyola University’s Miller Hall in New Orleans. Baker will speak from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 19. The symposium will feature other JFK researchers and authors. The event is open to the public, but registration is required. A $20 admission includes Baker’s book or another title about the JFK assassination. To reserve a space, visit or call (800) 556-2012.
            Louisiana Cultural Vistas columnist and Tulane University professor Richard Campanella presents “Arrivals,” a three-part series examining previous population influxes in New Orleans. The series kicks off at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Louisiana Humanities Center in New Orleans. The first panel, “Colonial Louisiana and the Louisiana Purchase,” features Dr. Raphael Cassimere Jr. of the University of New Orleans, Dr. Emily Clark of Tulane University and Dr. Larry Powell, most recently the author of the LEH 2013 Book of the Year “The Accidental City.” LCV Executive Editor David Johnson moderates. The series is free and open to the public.

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

Monday, October 7, 2013

Festivals Acadiens et Creole honors authors who have published books in French

             Festivals Acadiens et Creole will honor authors this year, those who have published books about Cajun and Creole life and in French. The festival will be Friday through Sunday in Girard Park.
            The authors are:
            Jean Arceneaux, “Le trou dans le mur; Fabliaux cadiens,” “Suite du loup: poèmes, chansons, et autres texts” and “Je suis cadien;”
            William Arceneaux, “Meurtre en Louisiane: L’affaire des frères Blanc;”
            Shane K. Bernard, “Les Cadiens et leurs ancêtres acadiens;”
            Vicky Branton, “Donkey Otie et l’Anniversaire Eternel;”
            Jude R. Chatelain Sr., “Graines de parasol;”
            David Cheramie, “Lait à Mère: interrompu par ‘L’été et février’,” and “Julie Choufleur: ou Les Preuves d’amour;”
            Deborah J. Clifton, “À cette heure, la louve;”
            Kirby Jambon, “L’École Gombo: Poésies” and “Petites Communions: Poèmes, chansons et  jonglements;”
            Warren Perrin, “Une Saga Acadienne;”
            Zachary Richard, “Histoire des Acadiennes et des Acadiens de la Louisiane,” “Conte cajun: L'histoire de Télesphore et ’Tit Edvard (vol. 1),” “Conte cajun: L'histoire de Télesphore et ’Tit Edvard dans le grand Nord (vol. 2),” “Conte cajun: Les aventures de Télesphore et ’Tit Edvard au Vieux pays (vol. 3)” and “Faire récolte;”
            Jacques Royal, “Louisiane-Luisiana-Louisiana,” “1785 Destination Louisiana,” “Marquis de Lafayette” and “1804-1808 Digest of the Civil Laws now in force in the Territory of Orleans;”
            Susan F. Spillman, “Compère Lapin voyageur;” and
            May Rush Gwin Waggoner, “La mer attendra,” “Le Chant de l’arc-en-ciel – Poésies et Proses,” “Une fantaisie collective: Anthologie du drame louisianais cadien” and “Le Plus Beau Païs du Monde.”

Writing Contest
            Writing students from Acadiana may compete for recognition and prizes in the annual Creative Writing Contest, co-sponsored by the Acadiana Writing Project and the Festival of Words. The contest is open to sixth to 12th grade writers and invites submissions of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction.
            Writings are submitted through teachers, and an entry form is required. The deadline is Oct. 18.
            First, second, and third place winners will receive certificates, publication in an anthology and other gifts, plus winners are invited to read their pieces at a ceremony honoring the writers.
            For more information and to print entry forms, visit

New releases
            Kelby Ouchley of Rocky Branch has a comprehensive book out on alligators titled “American Alligator: Ancient Predator in the Modern World. The book has been published, appropriately, by the University Press of Florida. “It’s a concise, up-to-date account of alligator life history with lots of factoids (biggest, food habits, nesting, etc.),” Ouchley wrote me by email. Ouchley is a naturalist who managed National Wildlife Refuges for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 30 years. He is also the author of “Flora and Fauna of the Civil War: An Environmental Reference Guide” and “Bayou-Diversity: Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country,” both by LSU Press.
            Mark A. Stevens, a former editor of this publication who divides his time between Lafayette and Johnson City, Tenn., spent the last four years collecting and cataloging photographs about the Clinchfield No. 1 which was, at one time, the oldest operating steam engine in the United States, according to Stevens. He has published “The One & Only: A Pictorial History of the Clinchfield No. 1” with coauthor A.J. “Alf” Peoples. Built in 1882, the engine famously pulled excursion trains throughout seven states in the South between 1968 and 1979, Stevens wrote me by email, and is now housed at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Md. The book, which is a joint project with the Clinchfield Railroad Museum in Erwin, Tenn., may be ordered through Star Publishing. 
            Jesmyn Ward, who grew up in DeLisle, Miss., has published a memoir titled “Men We Reaped.” In five years Ward lost five young men in her life to drugs, accidents and suicide making the author question why? Ward is a National Book Award winner for “Salvage the Bones,” which follows a hurricane ravaging a Mississippi Coast town. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan and has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and a Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. “Salvage the Bones” was also a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, as well as a nominee for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
            Michael Harris Smith sets his novel “Rivers” on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, ravaged by storms where a regional line pushes loots and ruffians below the rest of the state and a man named Cohen becomes the reluctant hero for a group of refugees. “... Rivers is the kind of book that lifts you up with its mesmerizing language then pulls you under like a riptide....,” writes The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
            David Armand, who teaches at Southeastern and serves as associate editor for Louisiana Literature Press, has published “Harlow,” a novel following 18-year-old Leslie Somers trudging his way through the dark Louisiana backwoods in search of his father, a man whom he has never met. But when Leslie finally finds Harlow, the man is not what the boy had expected. Armand’s first novel, “The Pugilist's Wife,” won the George Garrett Fiction Prize and was published by Texas Review Press.

Book events
            Tim Parrish will read, discuss and sign his new memoir, "Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist" (University Press of Mississippi) and his new novel, "The Jumper" (winner of Texas Review Press's Fiction Prize) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Picard Center, 200 E Devalcourt St.
        Errol Laborde, New Orleans Carnival historian and editor of New Orleans Magazine, will sign “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St. in New Orleans.
            Local attorney Greg Landry and senior paralegal Priscilla Charles, with non-profit law firm Acadiana Legal Service Corporation, will speak (and answer questions) on “How to Represent Yourself in Court” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at South Regional Branch Library.
            “Adult Bedtime Stories” With Chuck Palahniuk and special guests Chelsea Cain and Monica Drake begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Tipitina’s in New Orleans.
Tickets are $29, and available at Garden District Book Shop and Tipitina’s.  
            Garrison Keillor discusses “O, What Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Jewish Community Center of New Orleans. Tickets are $5 and available at Garden District Book Shop and the Jewish Community Center (JCC). Tickets include a coupon good for $5 off the purchase of Keillor’s book, “O, What Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound,” the first poetry collection written by the radio host of “A Prairie Home Companion.”
            Author Camilla Hunt Cole will sign her book “Long Shadows” at 5 p.m. Saturday at The Lab in River Ranch. 
            The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana will host several authors, including yours truly and Danielle Kazemi at the “Meet the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana Authors” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at J&R Educational Supplies, 3123 Johnston St. Author books will be for sale.
            The Southern Festival of Books will be Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11-13, at War Memorial Plaza in Nashville. This year’s authors include Ace Atkins, Rick Bragg, Wiley Cash, Therese Ann Fowler, Tom Franklin, Ann Hite, Jill McCorkle, Mary Alice Monroe and Susan Rebecca White, among others.

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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cookbook Thursday: Shaffer offers a chocolate cookbook to die for

            I adore chocolate so imagine my delight upon discovering Bev Shaffer’s new cookbook, “Chocolate Desserts to Die for!: The Complete Guide for Chocolate Lovers.” Shaffer offers more than just chocolate recipes, although I must admit I headed straight for the warm chocolate beignets, the Not-Just-for-Tree-Huggin’-Hippies chocolate granola and Chicago-style deep-dish dessert pizza. She offers fun trivia and historical information, chocolate varieties and baking tips, but if you’re like me, you’re saying where’s the recipe? Here’s one that may put you in a chocolate coma but what fun that will be!

Deep Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake
From “Chocolate Desserts to Die For!”
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
6 large eggs, separated, then room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chunks of fresh pineapple
Unsweetened whipped cream
            Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch springform pan. Melt the chocolate and butter; remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and yellow colored. Stop and scrape bowl and beater. Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture, cream, chocolate liqueur and vanilla. In another clean large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (but mixture is not dry). Gently fold one fourth of egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until thoroughly incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 26 to 35 minutes or until cake is just set. Cool on wire rack. When completely cool, loosen the edges of the springform pan and remove ring. Serve with chunks of fresh pineapple and a wisp of unsweetened whipped cream. Serves 8 or more.

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” and “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana,” both from The History Press.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Villien offers fascinating history of Maurice, Louisiana

            Douglas L. Villien Sr. wanted to pen a biography of his great grandfather, Jean-Maurice Villien, founder of the town of Maurice. Jean-Maurice Villien’s travel to South Louisiana from France as a young entrepreneur provided a fascinating tale on its own.
            What emerged from Douglas Villien, a freelance writer who has written extensively on Maurice, was a history of the entire town, from its early origins — including Jean-Maurice Villien’s biography — to the town today.
            “Between the Crossroads: A Centennial History of Maurice, Louisiana” is an impressive undertaking, offering valuable historical information on the town’s citizens, churches, businesses, trade routes, political leaders and so much more. There’s also a biographical section on the town’s movers and shakers, appendixes and timelines and a nice collection of photos, both old and new.
            Did you know that Maurice birthed the turducken, bourré game and Cajun Bloody Marys? Or that world famous designer Vivian Alexander and Racing Hall of Fame and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent DesOrmeaux call it home?
            The book’s a must for Maurice residents and lovers of Louisiana history. It can be found online through and at Louisiana MarketShops at 115 in Henderson-Breaux Bridge, The Depot in Abbeville and Vermilionville Gift Shop.

Book news
            “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Sheri Fink has been picked as the Morning Joe Book Club’s first book out the gate. The book is “a harrowing report of patient deaths at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and exposes just how unprepared America is for large-scale disasters,” according to the publisher. The book club is a series of discussions on nonfiction books by MSNBC.

New releases
          “Remembering Rapides’ Rebels: 150th Anniversary Portraits of Confederates and other Civil War figures of Rapides Parish, Louisiana” has just been released, part of a series of books commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The book offers historical information on more than 1,000 men from Rapides Parish who served in the war. The book includes a biography, service record and, in some cases, photos, and is available through
            New Orleans native Elaine Parker Adams has completed a biography of her great-grandfather, the Rev. Peter W. Clark, who served the Methodist Episcopal Church during the latter 19th century and early 20th century. “The Reverend Peter W. Clark: Sweet Preacher and Steadfast Reformer” (published by WestBow Press) follows Clark during the post-Reconstruction period as he built churches in rural Louisiana, established missions in New Orleans and served as founding presiding elder of the Lake Charles district of the Louisiana conference. The book details his achievements as a religious and community leader dealing with crises ranging from Mississippi River flooding to axe murders and also on the personal sacrifices Clark and his family made for what is now the United Methodist Church. Adams, who now lives in Houston, was the founding president of Houston Community College – Northeast. 
            Former West Monroe resident Wayne Hogue, a leadership and character advocate and professor, has published “Elements of Leaders of Character,” explaining what “character is destiny” by Heraclitus means and how that impacts readers. “ ‘Character is destiny’ is just as true today as it was 2,500 years ago, maybe more true now than then,” Hague said in his press release. “What this means is our character determines the quality of every outcome and aspect of our life. Most importantly, it means we have some control over our own destiny because we have control over many of the elements of our character.” The book is now available in print and as an e-book from, Westbow Press ( or in bookstores or online booksellers. 

Let’s Talk!
            “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys” 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. “American Stories” will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Oct. 29 at Louisiana Tech’s University Hall. For information, call (318) 257-2872.

Louisiana Book Festival
            The 10th annual Louisiana Book Festival will host a number of music-related programs as part of Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s yearlong salute to Louisiana music
           Singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier will lead a full-day pre-festival songwriting WordShop Friday, Nov. 1, at the State Library and will be interviewed by author Wally Lamb at the festival on Nov. 2. Lamb included Gauthier’s “I Drink” on his playlist for his novel “The Hour I First Believed.”
            Other author presentations on music-related books include “Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz” by John McCusker, “Traditional Music of Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings” by Joshua Caffery and “Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley” by J.D. Davis. There will be a panel on Louisiana music with Tom Aswell, author of “Louisiana Rocks!,” and Shane Bernard, author of “Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues.” Singer-songwriter Zachary Richard will give a presentation on his book, “Histoire des Acadiennes et des Acadiens de la Louisiane.”

            Live music performances will take place throughout the day on Spanish Town Road, including singer-songwriter Yvette Landry, who will also discuss her children’s book “The Ghost Tree” at the festival. The debut performance of a show based on “The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul” will also take place in the Capitol Park Museum auditorium.

            The Louisiana Book Festival takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, in Capitol Park in downtown Baton Rouge. For more information, visit

Book events
            A poetry reading and open mic with Liz Burk and Kelly Clayton will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Thensted Center, 268 Church St. in Grand Coteau. The event is free and open to the public. Burk is a psychologist who divides her time between a practice in New York and a husband in southwest Louisiana. Her work has appeared in anthologies and journals including “The Southern Poetry Anthology: Louisiana,”  “The Louisiana Review” and “South Carolina Review.” Her chap book, “Learning to Love Louisiana,” (Yellow Flag Press) will be available for sale. Clayton is a Louisiana Creole, moved home after 20 years in New York City. Her poetry has been published in many journals including Future Cycle Press, Delacorte Press, Gloom Cupboard, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literacy.  
            LSU’s Hill Memorial Library will host its first open house Tuesday for LSU students and the public. On view will be items from the library’s special collections, pulled from more than 5,000 manuscripts, 80,000 rare books and thousands of photographs.

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