Sunday, February 28, 2016

'New Orleans Noir,' 'Afton Villa' releases, plus Stephen Utz offers Rodrigue lecture on Walker Percy

        Edgar Award-winning author Julie Smith curates a collection of reprints by American authors in “New Orleans Noir: The Classics 2,” part of a series of original noir anthologies by Akashic Books. Each volume comprises stories set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. The New Orleans book includes stories ranging from 1843 to 2012 by authors James Lee Burke, Armand Lanusse, Grace King, Kate Chopin, O. Henry, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Ace Atkins, O’Neil De Noux, John Biguenet, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Nevada Barr and more.
            Publisher’s Weekly calls it “[An] irresistible sequel to Smith’s ‘New Orleans Noir’... Anyone who knows New Orleans even slightly will relish revisiting the city in story after story.”
Smith is the author of two detective series set in New Orleans. A former reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the San Francisco Chronicle, she lives in the Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans. Smith, Atkins, Barr, DeNoux and Ruffin discuss and sign the book from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

Rodrigue lecture
            Stephen Utz will lecture on the late novelist Walker Percy as this year’s George Rodrigue Lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Oliver Hall on the UL-Lafayette campus. Percy was born in North Carolina but lived most of his life in Covington, writing such classics as “The Moviegoer,” which won the National Book Award in 1962. Utz, who has a doctorate in philosophy from Cambridge University and is on the law faculty of the University of Connecticut, will speak on "The Itch for Omniscience: Walker Percy and The Examined Life.”
“Accepting everyday life, we ignore the paradox of its grip on our identity as human beings,” Utz said. “Everyday things in a sense define us, but our humanity eludes them and often eludes us as well. More surely than any other novelist of his day, Walker Percy took this paradox as his starting point. His modest but persistent seekers question their inheritance, the historical backdrop of Louisiana and the modern South, as well as the pervasive ideology of modern science and our broader cultural heritage.”
The free lecture sponsored by the George Rodrigue Endowment is open to the public.

New releases
            The massive Victorian plantation Afton Villa of St. Francisville was lost to fire in 1963, and when horticulturist Geneveive Munson Trimble visited in 1972 she was dismayed to see both the house and gardens in ruins. She and her husband, Bud, purchased the property and set about restoring the elaborate gardens. Their 40-year renovation is the subject of “Afton Villa: The Birth and Rebirth of a Nineteenth-Century Louisiana Garden” by LSU Press. The book details both the plantation’s history and the restoration of the 35-acre garden, including the alley of live oaks and azaleas, the ravine of daffodils, boxwood parterre and so much more. Trimble oversaw the restoration of the New Orleans Botanical Garden, where she served as president of its Foundation for 25 years. She has receive numerous awards including the Preservation Award from the Foundation for Historical Louisiana. Trimble will sign copies of the book from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

At the Lafayette Library
Lafayette Reads Together is exploring the book “Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream” by Joshua Davis. Davis is the author of several books, with “Spare Parts” being adapted into a documentary, “Underwater Dreams,” and then a 2015 movie, “Spare Parts,” starring George Lopez, Carlos Pena, Marisa Tomei and Jamie Lee Curtis. “Underwater Dreams” will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday at North Regional Library, followed by a talk on the book at 6:45 p.m. For more information and to see a schedule of events and obtain a copy of the book, visit
Zachary Richard, Louisiana’s first French language Poet Laureate, will join French immersion students, to read selections from “Les Cenelles,” the first African American poetry anthology in the United States. The event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at South Regional Library.

LSU Book Bazaar
The Annual LSU Book Bazaar, offering a wide variety of books from children’s books to textbooks and reference books, will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the 4-H Mini Barn and Nelson Auditorium on the LSU campus. Proceeds help fund special purchases for the LSU Libraries’ collections.

Book events
Carole Boston Weatherford discusses and signs her book, “Freedom in Congo Square,” from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. today at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
Mary R. Arno signs her novel “Thanksgiving,” based on a short story that won the gold medal in the Faulkner Wisdom competition, at 6 p.m. Monday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Arno is an award-winning journalist and a native of New Orleans.
Louisiana activist Emilie Bahr signs “Urban Revolutions: A Woman's Guide to Two-Wheeled Transportation” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books and 6 p.m. Thursday at Maple Street Bookstore of New Orleans. Bahr draws on her own experience as an everyday cyclist and a transportation planner in New Orleans to demystify urban bicycling in this field guide.
UNO professor of English Dr. Anne Boyd Rioux will be reading from and signing “Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist” and “Miss Grief and Other Stories” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
C.S. Harris signs copies of her latest Sebastien St. Cyr mystery, “When Falcons Fall,” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Cajun Series of historical romances now ebooks!

            Some people view the rise of ebooks as the death of print. I’m enjoying this new technology as a second life to my alter ego. I published several historical romance novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire in the early part of this century, all focused on Cajun culture and set in South Louisiana. Because they were romance novels, their shelf life was limited. Last year, I received the rights back to these books and have uploaded them all to Amazon as ebooks. So Cherie Claire is back in business, and this time “The Cajun Series” of historical novels will remain available indefinitely and soon I’ll have versions for young adults, foreign countries and as audio books. Pretty cool.
The Cajun Series follows a family of Acadians (Cajuns) who travel to South Louisiana and start anew after being exiled from their Nova Scotia home. The first three books — Emilie, Rose and Gabrielle — follow the Gallant sisters as they attempt to reunite with their father in the wilds of Louisiana and Delphine (Book Four) takes place during Louisiana's role in the American Revolution. The Dugas family saga continues with A Cajun Dream (Book Five) and The Letter (Book Six). You can read more about my books, view a family tree and see what books are coming up at 

Book One: Emilie (now only 99 cents!)
“Pick up a copy of Emilie for your reading pleasure, and take a journey into the historical Acadian (Cajun) country of Louisiana for an educational, romantic read.”
—Carol Carter, Romance Reviews Today

 “The beauty of Ms. Claire’s tale is in the message that love makes one a stronger and better person. She leaves just enough hints to keep readers eagerly anticipating the next two sisters’ tales. As a history buff, I enjoyed learning about the Acadian (Cajun) culture, as well as the story’s characters.”
—Evelyn Feiner, Romantic Times magazine

Book Two: Rose
"Ms. Claire's tale of the Acadians (Cajuns) is rich in Old World traditions as she explores the early beginnings of what was to become the melting pot of American society. Rose and Coleman's love is the stepping stone to a new beginning and readers' hearts will be warmed by their love and its powerful message."
—Romantic Times Magazine 

“I’m saving a spot for Cherie Claire on my keepershelf!”
—Heather Nordahl, Affaire de Coeur

Book Three: Gabrielle
“Ms. Claire’s characters are vividly portrayed against the atmosphere of the swampland, and living in exile in a strange land and dealing with all that it entails. I felt I was right there with Jean and Gabrielle.”
—Suzanne Coleburn, The Belles and Beaux of Romance

Book Four: Delphine
“Author Cherie Claire masterfully blends the challenges of history, love and loyalty in Delphine. From the grand mansions of the aristocrats of France to the marauding dangers of the high seas, this rich plot combines intrigue, treachery, and traitorous love in a riveting novel readers will not be able to put down….Delphine comes highly recommended.”
—Cindy Penn, Word Wrap

Book Five: A Cajun Dream
"A Cajun Dream will bring a smile to readers' faces. Ms. Claire has captured the sweetness of falling in love the first time with the gentleness of Dorothy Garlock and the tenderness of Pamela Morsi." 
—Romantic Times magazine 

Book Six: The Letter
"Cherie Claire is a new voice in romance from the heartland of Louisiana. I found The Letter enchanting, original and lyrical from beginning to end. Catch this star rising - her talent is a gift of the Goddess!" 
— Eileen Charbonneau, author of Rachel LeMoyne

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Festival of Words hosts Nickname Open Mic tonight

            Do you have a fun or unusual nickname? The Festival of Words will host a “Nickname Open Mic” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight at Chicory Coffee and Café in Grand Coteau. The time limit is five minutes in which participants can explain whether they love or hate their nickname, describe where it came from and tell of their experiences carrying this name.
            Mine is Pixie. What's yours?
            For more information, contact or call (337) 254-9695.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book events this week - Feb. 22-28

UL-Lafayette anthropology professor Ray Brassieur will speak on “Louisiana Healing Traditions into the 21st Century” as part of McNeese University’s SAGE Program from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday in Thibodaux. A booksigning will follow. Registration is required; visit
            Joshua Davis, author of several books, including the Lafayette Reads Together book “Spare Parts,” which was first adapted into a documentary, “Underwater Dreams,” and then a movie, “Spare Parts,” in 2015 will speak about his book at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Lafayette Main Library Meeting Room. Davis has been a contributing editor at Wired since 2003, and has also written for the New Yorker, GQ, Outside, Maxim, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health and Food & Wine.
            Do you have a fun or unusual nickname? The Festival of Words will host a “Nickname Open Mic” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Chicory Coffee and Café in Grand Coteau. The time limit is five minutes in which participants can explain whether they love or hate their nickname, describe where it came from and tell of their experiences carrying this name. For more information, contact or call (337) 254-9695.
            Local robotics teams and businesses will demonstrate what their machines can do at Robotics Day from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Lafayette Main Library Meeting Room.
The 2016 Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration will be Friday and Saturday in Natchez, Miss.
Julie Cantrell, author of “The Feathered Bone,” a novel set in New Orleans about human trafficking, will speak on a panel at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Livingston Parish Courthouse in Livingston. The event is hosted by Cavalier House Books and includes Emily Morrow Chenevert of Trafficking Hope, an organization dedicating to combating human trafficking; Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard and a representative from the Louisiana State Police human trafficking task force.
            Bookmaking Workshop with Frank Hamrick will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe. Participants will make two books, a simple hardbound stitch book and a more complex Coptic hardbound book. The cost is $135 for museum members and $155 for nonmembers. Call (318) 329-2237.
            Carole Boston Weatherford discusses and signs her book, “Freedom in Congo Square,” from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. This poetic, nonfiction story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. This book contains a forward from Freddi Williams Evans, a historian and Congo Square expert, as well as a glossary of terms with pronunciations and definitions.