Sunday, November 30, 2014

UL Press offers great deals at Holiday Book Sale


             The UL Press will host its annual Holiday Sale from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the UL Alumni House. There will be refreshments, giftwrapping, authors on hand to sign copies and every title will be discounted by at least 20 percent off of the regular retail price.
            And for Cyber Monday, the press is offering 40 percent off all books via their web site until midnight Monday, Dec. 1.
            Here’s a few UL Press books to consider:
            “The Public Art of Robert Dafford” with photographs and text by Philip Gould, part of the Louisiana Artists Series, has to be my favorite coffee table holiday gift idea of the year. Anyone who has witnessed Dafford’s exquisite murals throughout Louisiana — and the country — along with Gould’s innovative photographs will want to include this gem in their library.
            Dafford not only enhances outdoor spaces but brings regional history to life through his public art. His intricate Acadian murals throughout the world tell the story of a people both blessed and exiled, his American pieces explain both Native American life and European expansion. Closer to home, many will recognize his work through the giant clarinet of New Orleans or the new harmonica gracing downtown Baton Rouge. Dafford’s work can also be seen in numerous museums, churches and inside commercial buildings.
            Another lovely coffee table book is photographer Tina Freeman’s “Artist Spaces: New Orleans,” with text by Morgan Molthrop. Crescent City artists are profiled or spotlighted in their own words along with photos of their studios, work spaces, homes and the artists working or at leisure. Some, like Fat Boy who creates with graffiti, are highlighted through public art. Others, such as Stephen Coenan and George Dureau, are no longer with us so encapsulating their artist space makes the book even more poignant.
            Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith, a professor of creative writing at Louisiana Tech, chronicles exquisitely through poetry the life of his grandfather Lý Loc in “The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives.” The story follows the son of an affluent Vietnamese landowner who was thought to own the sun by his children, wives, servants and tenant farmers because the sun had always shone favorably upon him.
            Another fascinating book is “African American Home Remedies: A Practical Guide with Usage and Application Data” by Eddie L. Boyd and Leslie A. Shimp who studied the use of home treatments through the University of Michigan. The book includes the author’s study of the 100 home remedies and herbs used by African Americans — many times due to lack of funds or health insurance — but includes a handy guide to these plants and their believed cures, plus a listing of herbs used in specific ailments.
            The Irish presence in New Orleans is both deep and deep-rooted, stretching back to Louisiana Governor Alejandro O’Reilly’s tenure in the 1700s to the famine ships bringing Irish natives in the 1840s. Historian Laura A. Kelley offers a comprehensive history, from early politics and prejudice to the modern St. Patrick’s Day Parade in “The Irish in New Orleans.”
           
New releases
            Louisiana professor of library science Dayne Sherman has released two novels: his latest, the Southern gothic “Zion” and “Welcome to the Fallen Paradise” as a 10th anniversary edition. “Zion” begins in 1964 and ends a decade later, but for the book’s Hardin family, faithful members of Little Zion Methodist Church, they will carry the scars of the decade for life. Sherman’s first novel, “Welcome to the Fallen Paradise,” was named a Best Debut of the Year by The Times-Picayune and a Notable Book by Book Sense.
            Award-winning Lafayette author John Francois has chosen 1848 New Orleans and Paris for his latest historical, “Revolutions,” centered around young Allain deGravelles who travels to France to study at the École Polytechnique but who wishes to be an artist amidst the violent political upheaval of the times. For information about this book and Francois’s previous historical novels, visit www.johnfrancois.com.
            “The First Inaugural Address of President Abraham Lincoln: A Rhetorical Analysis in The Art of Persuasion” by Lafayette’s Joseph John Murphy Alexander has just been published by Red Lead Books and New Orleans’ Walter Isaacson has published “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”
            Susan Fleet announced that book five of her Frank Renzi crime thriller series set in New Orleans has been published. Titled “Natalie's Art,” you can check out the book cover and a short video book trailer on her website, http://susanfleet.com/nataliesart.html.
            Ron Chapman of Chalmette, a history professor at Nunez Community College and recipient of the Spirit of 1812 Award from the National Society United States Daughters of 1812, has just published “The Battle of New Orleans: But for a Piece of Wood.”

WWII
            Historian Gerhard L. Weinberg discusses the legacies of World War I beginning with a 5 p.m. reception and followed by a program and book signing Tuesday at the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center of the World War II Museum in New Orleans. Weinberg is author of “A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II,” two volumes on Hitler’s foreign policy, “Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders” and many other books and essays. He has won honorary doctorates as well as many fellowships and prizes for his scholarship, among them the Pritzker Military Library Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military History. Reservations for the lecture and reception are requested; call (504) 528-1944, Ext. 229.

Book events
            Warren and Mary Perrin, editors of “Acadie Then and Now: A People’s History,” will speak about their new book at 6 p.m. Monday to Concerned Citizens for Good Government at Alesi’s Pizza House, 4110 Johnston St. in Lafayette and sign copies during Abbeville’s Christmas Stroll at The Depot on Wednesday and at noon at the Friends of CODOFIL Christmas luncheon at Four Columns, Westbank Expressway in Harvey. For information, call (337) 233-5832, or email perrin@plddo.com.
            New Orleans award-winning author, journalist, and lecturer George Gurtner will discuss his most recent book, “Cast of Characters,” at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Nix Library in New Orleans. The book is titled after Gurtner’s column that he wrote for New Orleans magazine for 35 years.
            Christmas at North Regional Library will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, in association with the Carencro Country Christmas celebration at the Carencro Community Center next door and the Children’s Christmas Parade. There will be a Jolly Holiday Magnet Craft for ages 5-12 and a holiday card swap for adults.
            Andi Eaton signs “New Orleans Style” from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.
            Author’s Alley book sale and signings by area authors will be 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at South Regional Library in Lafayette.
            Addie K. Martin and Jeremy Martin sign copies of “Southeast Louisiana Food: A Seasoned Tradition” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at the West Baton Rouge Museum Holiday Open House, 845 N Jefferson Ave. in Port Allen.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Books make excellent gifts so visit these signings!

            You’ve heard the expression “the gift that gives on giving.” Nothing exemplifies this more than a book. Why not buy that special someone a book for the holidays – and have it personalized! Here are some author signings happening this Saturday and next week:   
            Terri Hoover Dunham will be signing her picture book, “The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story” on the following dates and times: From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 29, at The Quilt Corner in Central (Greenwell Springs); from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at Pieces of Eight in Lafayette; and from noon to 2 p.m. then Saturday, Dec. 6, at Victoria's Toy Station on Government Street. in Baton Rouge.
            Lafayette author Cheré Coen will sign copies of her latest book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at Wild Birds Unlimited in Lafayette.
            Authors Stacey Judice, Kathy Higginbotham and Donna Latiolais will discuss and sign their new book “Images of America: Carencro” from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 29, at North Regional Library in Carencro.
            Authors Kid Chef Eliana, Dianne de las Casas, Carolyn Shelton, Regina Charboneau, Poppy Tooker, Ann Benoit, Kit Wohl, Liz Williams, Addie and Jeremy Martin, Deborah Burst, Argyle Wolf-Knapp, Marvin Allen, Nancy Wilson, and more will be signing and giving book talks from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. Free with museum admission and museum members get a 10 percent discount on purchases. From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. there will be snacks.
            Warren and Mary Perrin, editors of “Acadie Then and Now: A People’s History,” will speak about their new book at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, to Concerned Citizens for Good Government at Alesi’s Pizza House, 4110 Johnston St. in Lafayette. For information, call (337) 233-5832, or email perrin@plddo.com.
            New Orleans award-winning author, journalist, and lecturer George Gurtner will discuss his most recent book, “Cast of Characters,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Nix Library in New Orleans. The book is titled after Gurtner’s column that he wrote for New Orleans magazine for 35 years.
            Christmas at North Regional Library will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 6, in association with the Carencro Country Christmas celebration at the Carencro Community Center next door and the Children’s Christmas Parade. There will be a Jolly Holiday Magnet Craft for ages 5-12 and a holiday card swap for adults.
            Andi Eaton signs “New Orleans Style” from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.
            Author’s Alley book sale and signings by area authors will be 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at South Regional Library in Lafayette.

            Addie K. Martin and Jeremy Martin sign copies of “Southeast Louisiana Food: A Seasoned Tradition” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at the West Baton Rouge Museum Holiday Open House, 845 N Jefferson Ave. in Port Allen.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Celebrate Picture Book Month with wonderful new titles

             November is “Picture Book Month,” a time to not only purchase great children’s books for those on your holiday list but to pass on stories that celebrate gratitude, love and giving this Thanksgiving week.  
            Leif Nedland Pederson, author of “The Adventures of the Swamp Kids: The Missing Chord” published by Ally-Gator Bookbites of Lake Charles has written a charming holiday sequel that delivers a great message titled “Tutu’s Christmas on the Bayou.”
            Tutu the turtle enjoys his Louisiana Christmas but for once he’d like to see a real Christmas tree. By the time he drags a Christmas tree from the lot to his home on the bayou the tree is devoid of needles. Heartbroken, Tutu’s friends make light of the situation and decorate it nonetheless. The moral of the story is “Whenever you give those you love something special, you’ll always feel good in return.”
            Pederson concludes the book with a holiday lagniappe lesson and ways to create holiday pinecones and popcorn and cranberry garlands. The book is illustrated by Tim Banfell.
            A young boy awakens in Tonya Bolden’s “Beautiful Moon,” realizing he hasn’t said his prayers. He quickly falls to his knees beneath a full moon and prays for the hungry to be fed, the sick to be healed and for wars to end, in addition to those he loves. What makes this story so exceptional — beautifully illustrated by Eric Velasquez — is the intertwining of other people’s stories relating to the child’s prayers, proving that one person’s prayers are universal. Both the story and illustrations make this a heart-rendering book.
            Pelican Publishing has several new children’s books out in time for the holidays, including “New Orleans Mother Goose” by Ryan Adam, illustrated by Marita Gentry and “Macarooned on a Dessert Island,” a fantasy about being marooned in candyland by the ever imaginative Johnette Downing, illustrated by Christina Wald. There’s also a couple of holiday tales — “The Great Pirate Christmas Battle” where Santa stops marauding pirates from stealing Christmas toys by Michael G. Lewis, illustrated by Stan Jaskiel and “My Puppy Gave to Me” by Cheryl Dannenbring, illustrated by Cynthia Kremsner, a canine take on the “12 Days of Christmas.”
            For more information on these books and to view their covers, check out the “Louisiana Books” Pinterest board.

Ally-Gator
            At the recent Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge I met Tommie Townsley, publisher of Ally-Gator Bookbites in Lake Charles. This innovative woman has not only created a publishing house for her own children’s books, but of those of several authors. Townsley’s “Cajun Tales” with illustrations by Anne Dentler involve whimsical animals such as Adolpheaux the Adventurous Dolphin, Amos the Artistic Alligator and Dixie the Ole Dawg. Rebecca Stelly writes and illustrates “To the World Above,” centering around an imaginary deep sea creature named Ruke who sends a message in the bottle to the surface and receives a reply. The correspondence between the two educates readers about the deep sea, including science lessons throughout the book disguised as storyline, a handy glossary in the back and activities. Townsley is also the chairman of Southwest Louisiana Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Guild and a board member for The Children’s Museum of Lake Charles. For more information, visit www.ally-gatorbookbites.com.

Meeting authors
            Another author I was privedged to meet at the Louisiana Book Festival was Kendare Blake, winner of the Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Honor Book Award for “Anna Dressed in Blood,” a young adult paranormal mystery in which a teenage ghost hunter meets his greatest challenge in the ghostly Anna of Thunder Bay, Canada. Being a ghost lover — and a fan of modern young adult fiction — I nabbed a copy as well as her latest, “Antigoddess.” Blake smiled sweetly when she handed me the book and added, “Hope you like it.” I think she secretly doubted a woman my age would. But I did, couldn’t put it down, even though I always cringe at the death of teenagers (it’s a mother thing) and am amazed at how many people die in YA books.  Even better, there’s a Louisiana connection, but I won’t give that away.
            On Nov. 15, I was honored to be a part of the Heart of Louisiana Romance Writers annual author luncheon, with best-selling author Diana Crosby as the keynote speaker. Participating authors — and ones you will not want to miss — included Christa Allen, Nancy and Steve Brandt, Donna Caubarreaux, James Buddy Estes, Shana Galen, Lori Leger, Trish Leger, Anne Clarye Mason, Shirlee McCoy, Judy McDonogh, Rhonda McKey, Farrah Rochon, Wendy Russo, Lynn Shurr, T.S. Tate and Jo Templeton. For more information on these authors and a list of their books, visit my blog post at http://louisianabooknews.blogspot.com/2014/11/heartla-author-luncheon-celebrates.html.
            The Heart of Louisiana RWA chapter meets at 10 a.m. the fourth Saturday of every month in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit www.HeartLa.com.

Book news
            Authors Stacey Judice, Kathy Higginbotham and Donna Latiolais will discuss and sign their new book “Images of America: Carencro” from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the North Regional Library in Carencro.
            Carol Stubbs and Nancy Rust of Lafayette created a delightful combination Louisiana holiday celebration-cookbook with “A Louisiana Christmas: Heritage Recipes and Hometown Celebrations.” The book sold well for the duo but now that Pelican Publishing of New Orleans has picked it up, the title will be available everywhere. Don’t miss this charming blend of Louisiana travel with holiday recipes, perfect for holiday giving.
            I’ll be signing copies of my latest book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Discovering Catholic Foodie, enjoying Casamento’s Oyster Soup

            The beauty of social media is you find so many interesting people following the interesting people you follow. Do you follow?
            Take Jeff Young, for instance, I stumbled upon his book signing announcement through a friend’s Twitter and just had to know more about “The Catholic Foodie.” Young, a former seminarian and educator, lives in New Orleans and writes a blog and podcast called “The Catholic Foodie” and is author of “Around the Table with The Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine.” The book includes stories from his visits to the Holy Land, as well as 70-plus recipes.
            As if that’s not enough, Young will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from Feb. 26 to March 8, 2015 with Chef Matt Murphy, owner and operator of The Irish House in New Orleans and winner of Food Network’s Chopped in 2012, and Fr. Kyle Sanders, a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
            You have to check out his blog and view his recipe for Pan-Fried Trout with Pistachio and Dill — with mouth-watering photos. I'm so ready to see what else The Catholic Foodies has in store. 
             The weather has been nippy way down South, so here’s something to warm your heart and soul, Casamento’s oyster soup from the cookbook, “New Orleans Classic Creole Recipes.” Oysters grow plump in cool waters so let’s hope those Gulf beauties are enjoying this rare November cold snap.

CJ Gerdes, Casamento’s "Oyster Soup"
3 1/2 cups water
2 dozen freshly shucked oysters, drained
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

             Directions: In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the oysters and cook for 3 minutes. Remove oysters with a slotted spoon and reserve 3 cups of liquid. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook celery and onions in 1 tablespoon of butter, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the reserved liquid, garlic, thyme, red pepper and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and return to a simmer. Once the milk is added, never heat the soup past a simmer. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, then cook for about 3 more minutes until smooth (the mixture will be very thick). Gradually add the flour mixture to the saucepan, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. Add oysters, salt and white pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf and serve immediately.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Words & Music: A Literary Feast opens in New Orleans

            Words and Music 2014, featuring more than 50 authors, will be held Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 20-22, in New Orleans. The festivities kick off Thursday at the Hotel Monteleone with presentations by authors with new, New Orleans-related books and include a Literature & Lunch at Bayona Restaurant and a session with dream analyst and bestselling author Rodger Kamenetz, who will teach participants how dreams can inspire artistic creativity.
            The headliners for Words & Music include Randy Fertel, author of “A Taste for Chaos;” Lawrence Powell, author of “The Accidental City;” Rebecca Snedeker, co-author of “Unfathomable City, a New Orleans Atlas,” the “One Book” selection for New Orleans this year; Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea; Caroline Clarke, author of “Postcards from Cookie,” a memoir about how she discovered that her biological grandfather was music icon Nat King Cole; James Nolan, author of “You Don’t Know Me: New and Selected Stories;” and Moira Crone, a Robert Penn Warren Award winner and author of the new novel, “The Ice Garden.”
            And that’s just mentioning a few.
            For a schedule of festival events, visit http://wordsandmusic.org/2014-schedule.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Book events Nov. 18-22

            I (your humble blogger Chere Dastugue Coen) will be speaking as part of “An Evening with Author Cheré Dastugue Coen” from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Nix Library in New Orleans. I will be discussing my latest books, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” along with my book “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets” which I coauthored with Jude Bradley.
             Lyrically Inclined Poetry Slam and Open Mic will feature poet Micaela Simpson at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Black Cafe in downtown Lafayette. Doors open at 6 p.m. There is a $5 cover. To sign up for the open mic, contact PoeticSoul337@gmail.com or sign up at the door.
            Andi Eaton signs “New Orleans Style” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Maple Street Bookshop in New Orleans.
            Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Rick Bragg speaks of his latest book, “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. Bragg is the best-selling author of “Ava’s Man” and “All Over But the Shoutin.’” He spent two years interviewing Lewis, who hails from Ferriday, Louisiana.
            The second annual Ernest J. Gaines Lecture begins at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21. at the Ernest J. Gaines Center, Edith Garland Dupré Library on the UL-Lafayette campus. Dr. John Lowe of the University of Georgia, a member of the Gaines Center’s Advisory Board of Gaines Scholars, will speak about Gaines’ first published novel, “Catherine Carmier.”

UL Press Author Signings 
            The following University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press authors will be signing books:
            Tina Freeman and Morgan Molthrop will sign “Artist Spaces, New Orleans” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Maple Street Books, 7529 Maple St. in New Orleans and at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at Words and Music Festival in New Orleans and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at the New Orleans Athletic Club.
            James Nolan signs “You Don't Know Me: New and Selected Stories” at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at Words and Music Festival, New Orleans.
            W. Geoff Gjertson and Dege Legg sign “Generating Hope: Stories of the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home” from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at UL’s Fletcher Hall Room 134.

LSU Season’s Readings
            LSU Press and The Southern Review present Season's Readings, an annual holiday sale and multi-author book signing from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at the Club at LSU Union Square on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Books and journals will be sold at discounted prices, and there will be free gift wrapping and refreshments. The following authors will be present: Nolde Alexius, Jinx Broussard, Vincent Caire. Alex V.Cook, Michael Desmond, Ronald Drez, Ava Leavell Haymon, Judy Kahn, Kelli Scott Kelley, Laura Lindsay, C C Lockwood, Mary Manhein, Ryan Orgera, Wayne Parent, Michael Rubin, Barbara Barnes Sims and John Wirt.

One Book, One South
            The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance selected “Citizens Creek” by Lalita Tademy, author of the Louisiana-based “Cane River,” as its One Book, One South read, “a Southern-wide book club discussion taking place at independent bookstores across the South and online at ReaderMeetWriter.com.” During November, independent booksellers and ReaderMeetWriter.com will sponsor discussions about the novel, culminating in a live Q and A with the author on Thursday, Nov. 20, on the ReaderMeetWriter Facebook page. “Citizens Creek” follows a former slave and his family during the 19th century.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Heartla Author Luncheon celebrates local talent


            On Nov. 15, I was honored to be a part of the Heart of Louisiana Romance Writers annual author luncheon at Juban’s in Baton Rouge, with best-selling author Diana Crosby as the keynote speaker offering us great advice and inspiration.
             Participating authors — you’ll be amazed at how much talent there is in Louisiana — included:
             Christa Allen is the author of love stories “Love Finds You in New Orleans,” “Threads of Hope” (one of the books in Abingdon’s Quilt Series) and “Test of Faith” as well as “Walking on Broken Glass” and “The Edge of Grace.”
            In addition to dressing up and interviewing authors on her blog ‘The Romancechik Speaks,” Nancy Brandt has published “Fabric of Faith” and  “Sword and Illusion” with her husband, Steve Brandt.
            Donna Caubarreaux writes as Pepper Phillips, offering “Southern sass with a touch of heart” with books such as “This Devil Has Dimples,” “The Vow” and “The Christmas Gift,” which is hot on Amazon right now. 
            James Buddy Estes is the author of “Alabama’s Youngest Admirals” and other titles and reported that his books are being read in Alabama schools. 
            Shana Galen of Houston is the bestselling author of Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, “The Making of a Gentleman.”
            Lori Leger of Kinder has published through her own publishing house, Cajun Flair Publishing. She has several books out right now, including holiday anthologies, “Hearts, Hearths and Holidays” and “Christmas by Candlelight.” You can even learn Cajun cooking on her web site!
            Trish F. Leger of Jennings focuses on Druids in her Wiccan romance series and she’s also one of the authors in Lori Leger’s anthologies.
            Anne Clarye Mason of Baton Rouge writes romances under this name and mysteries under A.C. Mason. I just picked up her “Mardi Gras Gris Gris” in anticipation of Carnival beginning Jan. 6, 2015. She is also the author of the newly released “Deadly Bayou.” 
            Shirlee McCoy of Baton Rouge, inspirational author at Silhouette and Kengsington, has a new book in time for the holidays, “Her Christmas Guardian,” where former army ranger Boone Anderson must help Scout Cramer retrieve her child from kidnappers “before the kidnappers cancel Christmas for all of them permanently.” 
            Judy McDonough just released “Deadline,” book one in The Bayou Secrets saga, along with "Lifeline," book two.
            Rhonda McKey aka Rhonda Leah writes erotic and contemporary romances, her latest being “Risking Delaney” from Lyrical Press. 
            Farrah Rochon of Gramercy is a USA Today best-selling author of contemporary romances. Her latest is “I Dare You!,” book four in the “Moments in Maplesville” series, but you’ll also find holiday books such as the “Hot Christmas Nights" anthology and “A Perfect Holiday Fling.” 
            Wendy Russo writes YA science fiction and her latest, “January Black,” will be released Christmas Day. The book features 17-year-old Matty Ducayn who gets treacherous adventure after being expelled from the orderly “Hill.” She lives in Baton Rouge, working as an IT analyst for LSU. 
            Lynn Shurr of New Iberia is a retired librarian who has been knocking out romances left and right, many involving the New Orleans Sinners football team. She has also begun a new Mardi Gras series, the single title enviromental romance, “A Trashy Affair,” and the spicy Cajun romances, “A Taste of Bayou Water” and “Blessings and Curses.”  
            T.S. Tate/Eden Butler is currently Editor-in-Chief at LitStack.com and co-founder with Heather McCorkle of #WritersRoad chat on Twitter. Her flash fiction, "Street Noises," was included in the Pill Hill Press anthology "Daily Frights 2012: 366 Days of Dark Flash Fiction (Leap Year Edition)" and her short "Til Hunt Be Done," was included in the Winter Wonders anthology from Compass Press
            Jo Templeton writes historical romance (“A Pirate’s Kiss”) and paranormal fiction, featuring a fallen angel hoping to get back to heaven, “Scorned,” in addition to many other books. 
            I feel like I'm missing someone, which tells you how much talented this chapter has!
            Here’s a few more romances to heat up your holiday season, books I learned about from my goodie bag.            
            Jennifer Comeaux of Covington incorporates her love of figure skating in her novels and her latest is “Crossing the Ice,” where pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream and vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team. The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though.
            Marian Merritt as a holiday novella titled “Southern Fried Christmas” in which Colorado native Kelly Shepherd takes an assignment to write articles on Cajun Christmas culture after spending eight days in Cajun country. She meets widow Denny Labouve, owner of an oilfield company and dad to a 10-year-old daughter and proves that “love is deeper than a Louisiana bayou.” Her other books include “A Cajun Christmas Miracle” and “Deep Freeze Christmas.”
            The Heart of Louisiana RWA chapter meets at 10 a.m. the fourth Saturday of every month in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit www.HeartLa.com.
          Here’s a few more romances to heat up your holiday season.            
That's me in the maroon sweater next to Joan Whalen,
right, and Anne Clayre Mason, left.

 Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

William Joyce delights with Oscar contender 'Numberlys' and a new twist on Jack and Beanstalk tale

            On a recent trip to Shreveport I was honored to receive an insider's tour of Moonbot Studios, home to the award-winning artist and storyteller William Joyce and company. The studio took home an Oscar in 2012 for the animated short film “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” (one of my all-time favorites which makes me tear every time I watch it) and two daytime Emmys this year for a YouTube video titled "Scarcrow" commissioned by Chipotle Mexican Grill.
            Both are exceptional.
            Earlier this year Joyce and Christina Ellis released an innovative children’s book “The Numberlys,” based on the 1927 Fritz Lang silent movie “Metropolis.” Children may not get the reference but the book’s design, many times told vertically to emphasize skyscraping modern urban life like the film, reflects Lang’s black and white dystopia. The characters are workers living in a non-colored world, marching lockstep within a factory that only utilizes numbers. When a group of five friends yearn for something more, they develop an alphabet and words provide fresh new meanings for everyone.
             The idea actually began as an interactive app by allowing readers to use their smart phones or tablets to explore the story, plus now the app allows for readers of the book to find additional fun within its pages. The mini-games are based on each letter of the alphabet.
            Following “The Numberly’s” success as a children’s book and app, Moonbot Studios turned the story into a film, which is in the semi-finals running for this year’s Oscar race for best animated short. The final nominations will be announced Jan. 15.
            And if that wasn’t enough good news for Joyce fans and lovers of great storytelling, Joyce and Kenny Callicutt have released a spin on the old tale of Jack and the beanstalk titled “A Bean, A Stalk and a Boy Named Jack.” In this version, the kingdom is experiencing a drought, which is causing the king to have one stinky pinky. The princess asks the magician to help and his work encourages a small boy named Jack to plant a tiny bean. The giant in this tale is a non-threatening boy taking a bath who befriends Jack. As Jack returns home by slipping down the drain, the water falling saves the kingdom.
            November is “Picture Book Month” and I’ll have more reviews next week. But do yourself a favor and discover Joyce’s vibrant imagination and artwork if you haven’t done so already. By the way, Joyce is creator behind “Epic,” “Rolie Polie Olie,” “Robots” and “Rise of the Guardians.”

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.