Sunday, March 6, 2016

Debut novelist Shalanda Stanely to be featured at Louisiana Library Association conference

             This week I’m visiting the Louisiana Library Association’s annual conference in Baton Rouge and listening to Shalanda Stanley as the featured author. Stanley grew up in Louisiana, holds a masters in special education from UL-Monroe and a PhD from LSU in curriculum and instruction with a focus in reading and literacy education. She’s an assistant professor at ULM. Stanley is also the author of the debut novel “Drowning is Inevitable,” a story that centers on main character Olivia who has spent her life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. Olivia leans on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. When a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run and the foursome become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. For more information on Stanley and her new book, visit

Last chance!
            "Emilie," the first book in the Cajun Series of historical romances by Cherie Claire (my pen name) is FREE to download today and Monday, March 7, at  
            Emilie Gallant and her Cajun family have traveled to Louisiana in search of their father, separated thirteen years ago during le grand dérangement, the brutal exile by the British from their Nova Scotia homeland. The last thing Emilie has on her mind as she enters the rugged bayou country is marriage to her longtime companion, Lorenz Dugas. Beautiful but stubbornly defiant, Emilie worshipped Lorenz as a child but having to fight to preserve her family has built a wall around her heart. But Lorenz is equally determined and his passion will prove that their love cannot be denied. As they make their way across the untamed Louisiana wilderness, hoping to reunite the Gallant family, Emilie learns that love has a way of healing all wounds — even in the most unusual places. 

“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

New releases
            To celebrate the 100th anniversary of our National Park Service, National Geographic has published several books for both children and adults.
The guidebooks to the national parks offer tips, maps, directions, photos ops and so much more and, of course, are filled with gorgeous photos from the talents of the National Geographic staff. It’s a bit information overload in small spaces, and I’m on the fence over whether readers will love the myriad of information on every page or repel from too many photos and info boxes. On the flip side, the guidebooks are not comprehensive; many parks, such as Jean Lafitte in Louisiana, aren’t included.
National Geographic Kids also publishes cute children’s stories with a park theme, such as “Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure” by Ilona E. Holland, and the “Funny Fill-In: My National Parks Adventure.” My favorite of the bunch was the “Funny Fill-In” which blindly asks for nouns, verbs and the like to place into a story and then children read the crazy tale they have created, all of which relates to national parks.
            Celeste Fletcher McHale of central Louisiana plays on the South’s love of desserts and the loyalty of friends in her latest, a humorous novel, “The Secret to Hummingbird Cake.” Her first novel, “Save Us A Seat,” is based on a true story about herself and her two best friends.
            Erin Entrada Kelly follows two Filipina-American sisters as they walk the line between real and make-believe to cope with their difficult life in Louisiana with a cruel stepmother in the young reader book, “The Land of Forgotten Girls.” The book is geared toward ages 9-12.
            I find out about so many Louisiana books and authors online. One example is A.L. Vincent of Cajun Country (not sure what town) who released “Tangled Up in You,” the first in the “Fleur de Lis” series ( How about Kimberly Lang, who has published 19 romance novels with four of them set in Louisiana, one during Mardi Gras (

In Baton Rouge
Today (March 6) at 4 p.m., Baton Rouge Gallery’s ARTiculate Artist Talk series will offer a special presentation in conjunction with its “Logophilia” exhibition. Moderated by poet and LSU’s McElveen Professor of English, Laura Mullen, the panel of writers and artists will delve into the relationship between visual imagery and the written word. Panelists include Darrell Bourque, Kathryn Hunter, Laura Mullen, Jacqueline Dee Parker, Ronlyn Domingue, Chancelier Xero Skidmore, Kelli Scott Kelley and Forward Arts Inc.
Book events
A graduate of USL and the first female ROV supervisor in the world, Leah Hebert from Oceaneering International Inc. will speak about the world of ROVs and how she played a part in the competition as a judge from the book, “Spare Parts,” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at South Regional Library.
            Photographer an author Phillip Gould will speak on "Ghosts of Good Times: South Louisiana Dance Halls Past and Present," a book he is creating with Herman Fuselier, at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilliard University Art Museum.
Marlene Trestman speaks on and signs “Fair Labor Lawyer” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
            Dr. Richard Brettell will give the second annual John Bartholomew
Bienvenu Lecture, “Impressionist Gardens Beyond Giverny: Pissarro’s House and Garden in Eragny,” at 7 p.m. Friday, followed by a book signing at the Paul & Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. The free event is open to the public on a first come, first serve basis.

“Celebrating the Written Word” literary conference returns for its third year on Saturday in various downtown Hammond locations. There will be local authors discussing various types of writing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The highlight of the event will be a reading by Louisiana Poet Laureate Peter Cooley. Registration is $35, which includes a full day of workshops, panel discussions and master classes.