Sunday, March 29, 2015

New children's books include Louisiana subjects

             Looking for great children’s books? The spring offers lots of wonderful new titles.
            A couple of children bring home a bunny one spring who turns out to be the Easter Bunny in “The Littlest Bunny in Louisiana: An Easter Adventure” by Lily Jacobs, illustrated by Robert Dunn. As the bunny makes the rounds, readers are treated to Louisiana locales such as Sam Houston State Park, Tiger baseball and the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. At the book’s conclusion, readers are challenged to find the 20 eggs hidden among its pages. Sourcebooks, which published this cute title, also published the localized holiday books “A Halloween Scare in Louisiana,” written by Eric James, illustrated by Marina Le Ray, and “Santa is Coming to Louisiana,” written by Steve Smallman, illustrated by Robert Dunn and Jim Mitchell.
            Michael J. Rosen incorporates a variety of felines to teach poetry to children in “The Maine Coon’s Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers,” beautifully illustrated by Lee White. Each poetic turn highlights a type of cat, such as Turkish angora, Burmese and Ragdoff. For the British Shorthair, perched on a car peppered with his paw prints, the haiku reads: “paws plant mud-daises, along the polished hillside, parked on the cat’s street.” For the Birman tossling the ball of yarn, “up to bat again, white-mitted kitten hits! runs!, fields! slides into home!” In the back of the book are details about the spotlighted cats.
            Another lovely book that teaches children about nature with breathtaking photos of birds in flight is “Sweep Up the Sun,” by Helen Frost with photography by Rick Lieder. The prose is lyrical and inspirational while the photos both delight youngsters and provide lessons in bird identification. Like Rosen’s haiku book, “Sweep Up the Sun” offers details in the back about the birds used in the story.
            We have to admit, pop-up books amaze and delight us, especially modern pop-ups with their intricate designs. Shawn Sheehy takes readers through a woody neighborhood in “Welcome to the Neighborwood.” There’s a hummingbird, garden spider, a potter wasp and the underwater stickleback, among others, and all combine at the end in a magnificent display. “Neighborwood” is a fabulous introduction to nature with children sure to love the creatures leaping from its pages.
            Just in time for baseball season is “Growing Up Pedro” by Matt Tavares, which at first glance appears to be about Pedro Martinez, three-time Cy Young winner and part of the Red Sox World Series team. The book does center around Pedro but the story details his close relationship with his brother, Ramon, who also played Major League Baseball. Because of this touching sibling relationship that lasted throughout their careers, even when they played against each other, “Growing Up Pedro” has to be one of my favorite children’s sports books. Sports fans, Sox fans or fans of a moving story will not want to miss this book.
            Ellen Ellzey, a high school teacher from Sulphur, has self-published a young adult fantasy titled “Crimson Ashes” which takes place in Louisiana and revolves around Alida Mouton who has a harsh reputation, an abusive uncle and a living fire inside of her. Her best and only friend, Angeline, knows her secret until a beautiful boy named Casey Comeaux starts following her. While Alida struggles with deceit, murder, voodoo and homelessness, he and his friends try to push their way into her life, changing it forever. The book is currently available as a digital download on Amazon, but print copies will be available soon.
            Leif Pedersen, the Lake Charles author and creator of “The Adventures of the Swamp Kids,” has published “A Zoo Ta-do” that takes place in New Orleans and incorporates Tim Banfell’s illustrations and photography from New Orleans FOX-8 TV anchor, John Snell. “I knew from the outset that if I was going to give children a true and vivid visual overview of the Swamp Kid’s visit to the zoo, it would require that I pair the two into the storyline and I am very pleased with the resulting outcome,” Pedersen wrote me by email. “As I’m sure you are aware, many of the animals/reptiles at Audubon Zoo are unlike any others found in the world and this treatment gives them what I had hoped for. And Tim masterfully ‘dropped’ his illustrated characters into each scene beautifully.” The book includes comments by Audubon Institute President and CEO Ron Forman.

New adult releases
            Maggie Collins, a former English teacher and resident of Loreauville and current educational diagnostician with the Jefferson Parish Schools, has published her novel “Celestial Blue Skies,” which was shortlisted for the Ernest Gaines Award in 2014. The novel was also nominated for the Push Cart Prize. Collins has a bachelor’s degree from UL and a master’s from UNO and participated in the fellowship with the Center for Black Literature. She is currently writing another novel titled “A Vampire in my Farm Town Utopia” as well as a nonfiction book, “The Last of the Traiteurs and Tea Men.” “My book ‘Celestial Blue Skies’ is dedicated to my Uncle Roman Auzenne of Leonville,” Collins wrote me by email. “He was a great storyteller who inspired my novel.”Collins will sign and discuss her books Saturday, April 4, at the Iberia Parish Public Library Main Branch on 445 Main Street in New Iberia. 

George Takei
            George Takei, known for playing the character Hikaru Sulu in the “Star Trek” series, will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, at the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Brown Auditorium as part of this year’s Lyceum Series. Takei has performed in television, film and on Broadway since his “Star Trek” days and performed voice-overs in films such as “Mulan,” “Mulan II” and “Batman Beyond: The Movie.” He’s also narrated documentaries and is the author of several books, including his latest, a biography, “To The Stars: Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu.” 
             A documentary on Takei’s life and career titled “To be Takei” came out last August. 
      A vocal advocate, Takei has a large social media following, including yours truly, which veers from humorous and sarcastic posts to political. Takei was detained in two U.S. internment camps during World War II, one of which was located in southern Arkansas about 100 miles from Monroe. He is chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, has served as the spokesperson for human rights campaigns and was cultural affairs chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League. He was appointed to the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission by former Pres. Bill Clinton and the government of Japan awarded Takei the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his contribution to U.S.-Japanese relations.

Book events
            The 29th annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival concludes today at various venues in New Orleans. For more information, visit
            The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Nobles in Lafayette.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Honeycutt wins award, 'Wading Home' debuts in Dallas

            Baton Rouge author Leo Honeycutt has won the 2015 Axiom Business Book Award for “Nice Guy Finishes First: The Clarke Williams Story,” about the creation of Louisiana’s largest company, CenturyLink. The book will be awarded in May at the nation’s largest book trade convention, BookExpo America, in New York.
            Coming up on Thursday, April 2, “Wading Home: An Opera of New Orleans” will make its premiere at the Dallas City Performance Hall in Dallas, Texas. The opera was adapted by Mary Alice Rich from the novel “Wading Home, A Novel of New Orleans” by Rosalyn Story. It is being produced by the Black Academy of Arts and Letters to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Crude Justice' author explains fighting 'Big Oil'

            Stuart H. Smith stumbled into fighting oil companies when asked to represent Winston Street of Laurel, Miss., who was faced with a contaminated work yard from years of cleaning radioactive oilfield pipe. It was a volatile case that shaped Smith’s career, and brought to life what companies knew was toxic while continuing to do business and exposing workers.
            Smith recounts that case and others like it in his memoir, “Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America.”           
            There are numerous cases detailed in the book — Smith has served as lead counsel on more than 100 oil pollution cases — including Smith’s battle with BP as he represents plaintiffs involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Smith also delves into the government’s role in oil regulation and enforcement. Here’s a hint, he’s not happy with the government’s role in the BP cleanup and aftermath or the way things are heading as we remain a society “addicted to oil” and take extreme risks to acquire it.
            It’s a tough topic and one that may keep you up at night, but that’s the strength of a good story told well. Smith relates his experiences like a legal thriller, its chapters leaving you handing, waiting for more. It’s understandable since Smith is a regular contributor to magazines, blogs and his own web site, constantly advocating for environmental justice.

Book news
            The seventh edition of “Integrated Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Communications,” penned by primary author Dr. Kenneth Clow, the Biedenharn Endowed Chair of Business at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, was recently released by Pearson Publishing. The book was coauthored by Donald Baack, a professor at Pittsburg State University where Clow began his academic career. According to Clow, the concept of the text, called integrated marketing communications or IMC, is that all communications generated by a company or brand should convey a single, unified message. The concept was used in the business world in the latter part of the 20th century, but Clow and Baack were the first to write a college textbook promoting the concept.
            Chef Donald Link of New Orleans is up for another award. His second cookbook, “Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything,” is a finalist for an International Association of Cooking Professionals award. Winners will be announced March 29 during IACP’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. Link’s first cookbook, “Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana," won a James Beard Award for the 2009 Best New American Cookbook.

            The Jane Austen Literary Festival will be today in Old Mandeville. For information, visit
            The 29th annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival will Wednesday through Sunday, March 29, at various venues in New Orleans. There will be five days of literary discussions, theater, music and food events. For more information, visit
            Clayton Delery-Edwards signs copies of his book, “The UpStairs Lounge Arson” at the opening ceremony and reception of the Acadiana Pride Festival at 6 p.m. Thursday at Cité des Arts. The book details a horrific fire and apathetic aftermath that occurred at a gay bar in the French Quarter in the 1970s. A documentary screening of the film, “The Upstairs Lounge Fire” by Royd Anderson, follows at 7 p.m. and the performance of “Upstairs The Musical” at 7:30 p.m. A matinee performance of “Upstairs The Musical” will begin at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Cité.

LPLF Luncheon
            The Lafayette Public Library Foundation (LPLF) will hold its Awards Luncheon and Annual Meeting at the City Club at River Ranch on April 10. The silent auction opens at 11 a.m. and the program starts at 11:30 a.m. This year's theme honors Shakespeare with “To Read or Not To Read.” The guest speaker will be former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque, who will also be receiving the President’s Award. In addition, the Major Donor Award will go to Les Vingt Quatre club, responsible for starting the first public library in Lafayette, and Denelle Wrightson, director of library architecture at Dewberry, will receive the Foundation Award for her work on designing libraries, including Lafayette’s Main Library. The LPLF is a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 that exists to receive private funds and donations for materials and services not otherwise available for the Lafayette Public Library System. The cost of the luncheon is $30. Reservations will be accepted through April 3 and can be made by calling 593-4770 or mailing a check to Lafayette Public Library Foundation, P.O. Box 53024, Lafayette, LA 70505.

Book events
             Swirl in the City will conduct a wine tasting, to be followed by a reading by award-winning, visting Nigerian poet Niyi Osundare from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at Nix Library in New Orleans.
             Author and naturalist Amy Ouchley will read her book, “Swamper,” at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Sterlington Branch Library in Monroe, appropriate for ages 2 to 6.
            Neil William Pierson will read from and sign his book “Sock Spot,” about lost socks, at 11:30 p.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble, 3721 Veterans Blvd. in Metairie.
            Melissa Wallace will be reading from “It's Great To Be A NOLA Kid” at 1 p.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble Mandeville.
            The Friends of the Jefferson Parish Library Book Sale will be Thursday through Sunday at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Healthy libraries = educated populace, strong communities, creative minds

Louisiana Book Festival 2014
             There’s lots of depressing news lately regarding the Louisiana budget and it’s likely that higher education is going to take a significant hit because of the shortfall.
            But have you heard that libraries have been hit in the past few years and will continue to be subjected to budget cuts in the near future, despite the fact that they are now operating on budgets that leave nothing left to cut?
            Here are some things to be very concerned about:
            The state will stop helping local libraries pay for internet services and cut the State Library of Louisiana so it will only be open two days a week, laying off up to seven staff members. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s office said about 330 libraries will have to find other funds to pay for internet access due to cuts.
            “I am concerned that some libraries won't have the financial wherewithal to pay for internet for the rest of the fiscal year. It is not something they have built into their budgets because we have been providing it," Dardenne said in a Feb. 7 article in The Times-Picayune.
             I have spoken with several librarians in the state, including at the university level and within the State Library, who have stated they have not purchased new books in years. At LSU-Eunice, the library is closed on weekends so students are not able to access the library during that time.
LSU-E Library
            Think no one uses the library anymore? Try visiting your local library on a Sunday and see the throngs of people filling out job applications and performing work-related tasks on the library’s computers (public libraries are the number one point of online access for the nearly 39 percent of people in Louisiana without internet connections at home). How about all those amazing free programs you can bring your children to — spring break is coming up? Ever check out the databases online? How about tracing your family tree without having to purchase a subscription to
            Libraries are the key to an educated populace. They also build communities.
            Need more convincing? Here’s some statistics from the Louisiana Library Association:
LSU-E Library
             85,000 children hone their reading skills each summer by participating in the Summer Reading Program.
            Almost half a million books have been loaned among Louisiana public libraries since 2002; these are materials not available in local libraries.
            20,000 school children voted for their favorite book in the 2008 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Program.
            Libraries are centers for communication, information and normalcy in the aftermath of natural disasters and during times of economic crisis. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, libraries were swamped with people needing computers to fill out government and insurance forms, find new places to live and get information on schools, healthcare, etc.
            Almost 3,000,000 searches will be performed this year in vetted, high-quality informational and educational databases provided by the State Library in cooperation with local public libraries.
            14,500,000 visitors enter Louisiana public libraries annually.
            Libraries provide support for small businesses and economic development.
            And let me add that every fall the Louisiana State Library hosts the Louisiana Book Festival, a free event featuring dozens of authors, publishers and book-related events. Where would we writers be without the support of our libraries?
            This past Friday I was invited to speak at the LSU-E Arnold LeDoux Library about my recent book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History.” Librarian Gerald Patout hosts author events every month and this time he brought in members of the Eunice Community Garden and solicited gift certificates from Doug Nursery in Forest Hill. The event garnered an article on the garden in the Eunice Today newspaper.
            Libraries are more than a place to find a book — and yes, people are still reading books. They are a community.
            I’ll leave you with a happy thought. Notice the book-art photos? Those were created by art students at LSU-E as decorations for the Arnold LeDoux Library.
            Do you agree that libraries need to stay funded? Please tell your legislators by clicking here.

Lousiiana Book Festival 2014

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Three UL Press titles named ForeWord Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards finalists

            Three titles published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press — all fabulous books according to this blogster — have been named as finalists in the 17th Annual Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. They are:
            "Artist Spaces, New Orleans" by Tina Freeman and Morgan Molthrop in the Photography category, a comprehensive portrait of New Orleans’s artists and their relationship to space.
            "The Irish in New Orleans" by Laura D. Kelley, in the Regional category, a history of the Irish in New Orleans, illustrated with photographs.
            "You Don’t Know Me" by James Nolan in the Short Story category, a collection of short stories about New Orleans.
             In the next two months, a panel of more than 100 librarians and booksellers will determine the winners in more than 60 categories. Winners will be announced at the American Library Association annual conference on Friday, June 26.
            The complete list of the finalists can be found here.


Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Welcome to Braggsville an innovative novel about prejudices by T. Geronimo Johnson.

            D’aron Davenport of Braggsville, Georgia, sports an unusual name, one that evolves when he enters the halls of UC Berkeley. He befriends a cast of characters and is exposed to the liberal leanings of the northern California town, an education that shapes him in ways he never anticipated, in the innovative novel, “Welcome to Braggsville” by T. Geronimo Johnson.
            The book sports a sarcastic look at both Berkeley and its overt liberalism until the story moves to small-town Georgia with its Confederate flags, segregated neighborhoods and Waffle Houses. When D’aron lets it slip in his alternative history class that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War re-enactment, one of his friends, known as the “4 little Indians,” suggests a “performance intervention” in protest. The incident takes a tragic turn, spurring the story down a darker road and showcasing prejudices in its many forms.
            Johnson is a native of New Orleans who now lives in Berkeley, directs the UC Berkeley Summer Creative Writing Program, where he received his masters degree, and teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received his MFA. His first novel, “Hold It ‘Til It Hurts,” was a finalist for the 203 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.
            “Welcome to Braggsville” veers effortlessly from humor to tragedy in its evocatively written pages, leaving ideas to ponder long after the book is finished. I was exhausted by the time I read the last page, but thought about the tale for days. It’s a richly crafted story and, as author Wiley Cash remarked, the “most powerful form of satire; it sets fire to your brain while expanding your hearts.”

New releases
            When I decided to drop pounds at New Year’s I was also determined to eat better. I’m no stranger to healthy eating but wanted to take the challenge a few steps further. Stefanie Sacks’ “What the Fork Are You Eating?: An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate” was just the ticket, a handy explanation of exactly what’s in our foods today. The book contains information on artificial flavors, sugars, pesticides used in food production — you name it. I especially appreciated the label explanation (quite an eye opener) and how to better shop for food in grocery stores (hint: buy food at farmer’s markets). Haven’t gotten to the healthy recipes yet, but that’s next on my list.
            Now in paperback is Doug Seroff and Lynn Abbott’s “To Do This, You Must Know How: Music Pegagogy in the Black Gospel Quartet Tradition,” published by the University of Mississippi Press. Abbott works for the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane.
            Brittany Powell Kennedy of New Orleans has published “Between Distant Modernities: Performing Exceptionality in Francoist Spain and the Jim Crow South.” Kennedy is a lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Tulane.
            Arthur E. Jackson Jr. of Lafayette has published his life story titled “Out of the Darkness.” Jackson donates his inspirational story to prisons and rehabilitation centers. For more information, visit
            Nick Douglas has updated his book, “Finding Octave: The Untold Story of Two Creole Families and Slavery in Louisiana,” that’s available on and on Kindle books. “The updated book contains additional information and documentation about several of our ancient relatives,” Douglas said. “It also contains several new pictures kindly shared by Marianne Haynes.”
            J. Nelson Warner has published “The Bridge: Stories of the Church Body Becoming the Living Proof of a Loving God in its Hurting Urban Neighborhood,” an accumulation of short stories that describe his journey into the poorest neighborhoods in Lafayette. The book is published through LifeWay Book’s Crossroad Publisher and is available online at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble. All proceeds go to Bridge Ministry of Acadiana.
            Ayla and her family have just relocated in Carrie Simon’s Christian novel, “Save Them All.” But the quiet town they had hoped for with its charm and Southern hospitality hides a dark secret. When Ayla begins having unexplained dreams, they lead her to a boy in serious danger. Her journey will ultimately destroy the town or rally it together.

HNOC symposium
            The Historic New Orleans Collection, the Library of Virginia, and the UNO Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities hosts “To Be Sold: The American Slave Trade from Virginia to New Orleans,” a daylong symposium Saturday at the THNOC’s Williams Research Center in New Orleans and the Library of Virginia via broadcast. Speakers include both Virginia and New Orleans historians, many of which are authors. Admission is free and guests must register in advance to attend the live sessions. To register for the program in New Orleans, call (504) 523-4662 or email To watch the program live online, visit
            The HNOC also presents “Purchased Lives: New Orleans the Domestic Slave Trade,” a free exhibition, beginning Tuesday and running through July 18 which examines the individuals involved in the trade and New Orleans’s role. Erin M. Greenwald, a historian at The Historic New Orleans Collection, curated the display, which includes period broadsides, paintings and prints illustrating the domestic slave trade, ship manifests and first-person accounts from slave narratives and oral histories. 

Book events
            I’ll be signing copies of my book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History” from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Louisiana Nursery Festival in Forest Hill. Look for me at a table next to festival organizers.
            M.O. Walsh signs and discusses his debut novel “My Sunshine Away” in a joint event with David Joy, author of  “Where the Light Tends to Go,” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in New Orleans.
            Moira Crone discusses “The Ice Garden” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. Also at the library this week, Renee Austell will discuss her book about corporate mayhem and murder titled “Royal and St. Louis” at 7 p.m. Thursday.
            Warren and Mary Perrin, editors of “Acadie Then and Now: A People’s History,” will speak about their new book at Tuesday at Nichols States and Friday at the Louisiana State Archives in Baton Rouge.
            Skip Horack signs “The Other Joseph” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
            Sylvia Rochester will sign copies of her latest book “Mellow Yellow Dead Red” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Bra La Vie, 221 West Thomas St. in Hammond. Rochester wrote me, “Since Book III opens with a fun run in costumes, the Zanies will be out in force. Best costume wins a copy of the book. Oh, and everyone who buys the book at the signing will get a special surprise.”
            The Jane Austen Literary Festival will be Saturday and Sunday, March 21-22, in Old Mandeville.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Book events the week of March 9-15, 2015

At the libraries
            I will be speaking on my latest book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” at noon Friday, March 13, at the Arnold LeDoux Library on the LSU-Eunice campus in Eunice. Members of the local community garden, Jardin des Amis, will be bringing plants, flowers and seeds for swapping and Doug Young Nursery of Forest Hill has donated two $50 gift certificates as door prizes. Come out and hear about this amazing central Louisiana town that’s home to only 800 people but more than 200 plant nurseries.
              Author Sam Irwin will talk about Louisiana Crawfish at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at the South Regional Library as part of the Bayou State Book Talks presented by the Center for Louisiana Studies.
            It’s time again for the Writes of Spring writing contest for students in grades K-12 in categories of short fiction, nonfiction, drama (high school only) or poetry in English or French. First place winners will be published in UL-Lafayette’s Literary Journal, the Southwestern Review, and all winners will get a Writes of Spring 2015 Anthology donated by Touche Printing & Signs. Teen author Sarah Guillory will do a reading after the high school awards ceremony at 7:15 p.m. May 7. The deadline to enter the contest is March 31 and students may submit entries online. For more information, visit

Spring Book Sale
            The Friends of the Lafayette Library will hold its annual Spring Book Sale Wednesday through Saturday, March 11-14, in the Heymann Convention Center Ballroom. On Wednesday, Friends members may enjoy a members-only night, followed by the public sale Thursday through Saturday.

Book events
            Warren and Mary Perrin, editors of “Acadie Then and Now: A People’s History,” will speak about their book at 3 p.m. Monday at McNeese in Lake Charles, March 17 at Nichols State and March 20 at the Louisiana State Archives in Baton Rouge. For more information, call 233-5832, or email
            Laura D. Kelly will discuss her book “Irish in New Orleans” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave. and at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Maple Street Bookstore of New Orleans.
            Robert Brzuszek will speak and sign copies of his book, “Crosby Arboretum,” from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hilltop Arboretum, 11855 Highland Road in Baton Rouge.
           Kevin Sessums will sign copies of his memoir, “I Left it on the Mountain: A Memoir,” at 6 p.m. Friday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Celebrated author, medium Northrop to visit Lafayette

            Nothing can separate us from the ones we love, not even death, is the message medium Suzane Northrop offers those suffering from grief. Northrop will be speaking on “Messages from the Spirit World” at 8 p.m. Friday at Vermilionville.
            Northrop is the author of “Second Chance: Healing Messages from the Afterlife,” “Everything Happens for a Reason: Love, Free Will and the Lessons of the Soul” and “A Medium’s Cookbook: Recipes for the Soul,” and the host of “The Suzane Northrop Show” on Blog Talk Radio. She was also featured on the Emmy-nominated TV series, “The Afterlife.”
            This is Northrop’s second visit to Lafayette, a Louisiana city she prefers since most celebrated mediums head to New Orleans or Baton Rouge. Her Lafayette shows last year were sold out, as is her show on Wednesday.
            “Everybody goes to those two places (Baton Rouge and New Orleans),” she told me by phone from her home in New York. “Everybody should have an option (to participate with a medium).
            “I loved coming to Lafayette so very much,” she added. “I expect to have another good experience.”
            Friday’s event will open with an introduction with tips on how to connect with loved ones who have passed, then Northrop will offer messages from the spirit world.
            “What it’s going to be is two hours of messages,” she said. “That’s what people want. I tend to give a lot. I really work an audience.”
            Most of the time Northrop is pulled to an area in the crowd and “nine out of 10 times I hear a name,” she said. After that, “it all becomes fine tuned” as to the delivery of the message.
            Those who have passed on are existing within love, Northrop explained, and they don’t come through offering messages that are negative. For those who have had bad experiences with the dead when they were alive, the messages might be a chance for forgiveness.
            “It’s a place of love in a way that’s very hard to describe here in our physical realm,” she said. “It’s a higher rate of vibration, connected to this place of love. Ultimately that’s what God’s about. It’s all about love.”
            Northrop was born with the gift to communicate with the dead. She’s been working as a medium for 30 years.
            “It’s one of those things that chooses you, you don’t choose it,” she said. “It’s the only job I’ve ever had.”
            Learning how to connect with those who have died is possible, Northrop said, which is why she wrote “A Medium’s Cookbook: Recipes for the Soul: A Step-by-Step Guide Toward Creating a Banquet of Connections to Those Who Have ‘Passed Over.’”
            “I believe everyone has the ability to make connections with those we love,” she said. “Our loved ones have the ability to connect with us and we have to learn to listen.”
            A booksigning will follow Friday’s event. Admission is $59 per person. For more information, visit or call (888) 692-8111.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cookbook Thursday: Southern Living’s “Superfast Southern: Comfort Food in 20 Minutes or Less!”

            Food is a religion in the South, but more and more the modern world impedes our best intentions to produce the meals we love. Southern Living comes to the rescue with “Superfast Southern: Comfort Food in 20 Minutes or Less!” This easy-to-read cookbook with large, bright photos so you know exactly what you’re cooking offers up a wide variety of Southern favorites that take 20 minutes or less to prepare — sometimes 15.
            There are quick bites for entertaining, featuring recipes such as spicy crawfish spread and shrimp shooters. Spring greens with strawberries makes a healthy alternative and you can utilize those Southern strawberries hitting streets this spring or go for the mac ’n’ cheese four ways and forgo the diet. There’s a variety of sandwiches, such as an easy muffuletta, and dinner ideas such as fish tacos, crab cakes, stir fry, skillet sheppard’s pie and so much more.
            What would be a Southern cookbook without dessert? “Superfast Southern” offers recipes for Key lime pie, banana pudding and other Southern favorites. Our favorite was the biscuit beignets, creating those famous New Orleans pastries out of a can of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. We used to make these at home as a kid and were surprised at how good they turned out, not to mention in record time.
            Ingredients are usually kept to a minimum, many times featuring fresh produce found throughout the South, so these recipes shouldn’t be hard on the pocketbook either and help with sustainability practices.
            Included in the book are 10 “superfast secrets” to cooking at “lightning speed,” advice such as keep a well-stocked pantry, know your produce section and cook fewer times than you eat, meaning to double up to have meals for later.
            We couldn’t resist leaving you with a recipe for something truly Southern, Deep-Fried MoonPies.

Deep-Fried MoonPies
From Southern Living’s “Superfast Southern”
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 MoonPies
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Vegetable oil
            Directions: Whisk together first five ingredients in a medium bowl. Dip MoonPies in batter until coated; dredge in panko. Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat over medium heat to 350 degrees. Fry MoonPies, in batches, 20 to 30 seconds on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Cut into quarters to serve.

            Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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