Thursday, February 20, 2014

Contests and workshops to inspire, oh my!

            Country Roads magazine’s 13th annual Regional Writings issue will be published in June 2014, featuring the winners of the magazine’s Short Story Contest and Reader’s Choice Award. The magazine is providing the first line of a story from Louisiana authors and writers are asked to finish the tale. Three winning works, each representing one of the first line options, will be published in the June 2014 issue of Country Roads magazine and online at There will be a $200 cash prize for each fiction story winner.
            The first lines include:
             “In the attic’s darkest corner, behind his Russian grandmother’s dowry chest, was a phonograph, its horn humming out the chorus of hidden bees.” —Ronlyn Domingue
            “Strapped flat on his back on the gurney, Adam felt as if he’d been inserted into a kiln when his wife suddenly appeared between his splayed feet (his left shoe and sock mysteriously missing).” —James Bennett
            “I get kidnapped all the time.”—Andrei Codrescu.
            For guidelines, visit

LA Writes
            The LA Writes Contest for K-12 students of Louisiana schools is now open for entries for its 2014 contest. The deadline to enter is May 15.
            Students may enter one fiction, one non-fiction, and up to three poems to the contest, with various word limits. All entries must be sent by mail, postmarked by the due date and include a signed entry form. Students’ writing will be judged by teacher-consultants and then by author judges; in the past author judges were Darrell Bourque, Ann Dobie and Rose Anne St. Romain.
            For more information, email Margaret Simon at or visit
            The LA Writes Contest is a nonprofit contest. All awards and prizes are made possible by private donations, which are tax-deductible. Donors of $25 and up will receive a free anthology. Donations of $100 will be acknowledged on the website, Facebook and in the anthology.

Jambalaya Writers Conference

            The 11th Annual Jambalaya Writers’ Conference & Book Fair returns March 22 at the Terrebonne Parish Library in Houma. For Louisiana writers, this is one conference not to be missed.
            For one thing, the keynote speaker this year will be New York Times best-selling author Adriana Trigiani. The award-winning playwright, TV writer and documentary filmmaker is the author of the “Big Stone Gap” trilogy and the novel “Lucia, Lucia.” Trigiani has written the screenplay for the movie “Big Stone Gap,” which she will also direct.
            Other presenters include USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham, George Bishop, Dianne de Las Casas, Kid Chef Eliana, David Schwartz, Season Viking, Richard D. White Jr., Nicholas Courage, Christa Allan, Ron Thibodeaux, Darrell Bourque, Jack B. Bedell, David Middleton, Roxanne St. Claire, Holly Ingraham, Dr. Christopher E. Cenac, Clarie Domanque Joller and Kristen Painter.
            Secondly, the conference remains one of the best deals around —$30 for the all-day event and it includes lunch! But you need to act now. Registration past March 7 rises to $35, still a remarkable deal. For those who want to submit the first 1,500 words of a novel’s opening in the annual contest, there’s another small fee of $10, $5 for poetry.
            For more information and to register, visit
            In other conference news, the Hammond Regional Arts Center will host its inaugural literary festival “A Celebration of the Written Word” on Saturday, March 15. There will be 25 Louisiana authors, including former Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane, Jack B. Bedell, Alison Pelegrin, Donna Gay Anderson, David Armand and O'Neil De Noux. The cost is $35, which includes admittance to the author meet and greet the night. For more information, visit

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