Sunday, October 30, 2016

Festival of Words this Saturday in Grand Coteau

Yvette Landry
Rain Prud'homme
The Festival of Words, featuring literary readings by poet Rain Prud’homme-Cranford and songwriter and author Yvette Landry, will be Friday and Saturday in Grand Coteau. Other festival events include creative writing workshops in the public schools and community centers, a community stage for open mics, “Drive-by Poetry” in grocery stores, boutiques and restaurants and opportunities for participants to interact with featured authors. The Friday night event features a music performance and discussion by Landry, poetry performance by Prud’homme-Cranford and an oral history presentation about the Petetin store by  Sonny Eaglin at 7 p.m. at Chicory’s Café in Grand Coteau. Cheryl Castille, director of the Division of the Arts within the Office of Cultural Development, opens the festival. On Saturday, Drive-by Poetry performers will recite poems in Grand Coteau and Sunset businesses while an open mic and creative writing workshops will be at the Thensted Center. I will be teaching one on Life Writing: Creating Your Life Story. And if that wasn’t enough, there will be a public poetry reading by multidisciplinary artist Tanner Menard, accompanied by musician Chad Viator, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Nunu’s Arts and Culture Collective in Arnaudville. To register for workshops, learn more about featured authors and for more information, visit or contact Patrice Melnick at (337) 254-9695 or email festivalwords@gmail.comThe Festival of Words is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts. 

Achilles Print Studio, a fine art school offering art classes, workshops and lectures in multiple genres in Lafayette, will offer a Creative Writing Workshop with Saul Lemerond titled “From Magic Wands to Laser Guns — Learning to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” starting Tuesday, Nov. 1. The workshops will consist of five-week sessions for ages 15 and up meeting once a week on Tuesdays. Writers of all abilities are welcome. Originally from Green Bay, Wis., Lemerond is a third-year PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette where he is assistant to the director of creative writing and the fiction editor for Rougarou. He has published stories in several genres including horror, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, satire and absurdism. His book “Kayfabe and Other Stories,” was published by One Wet Shoe Press in 2013. His poetry, non-fiction, and short stories have also been published in Dunesteef, Drabblecast, Down in The Cellar, Notes Magazine and elsewhere. For more information, email
   The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana will offer a one-day seminar for writers interested in fiction, poetry, lifewriting and playwriting from 9 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. Saturday at South Regional Library of Lafayette. The presenters, made up of UL-Lafayette professors and instructors, will present a full day of instruction with hands-on exercises. For more information and to register, call (337) 342-4287. High school students may attend free of charge.

Book events
Award-winning author Peggy Scott Laborde, who writes about many historic features of New Orleans, has published “The Fair Grounds Through the Lens: Photographs and Memories of Horse Facing in New Orleans,” with principal photography by Louis Hodges Jr. She will discuss the book at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
            The Teche Project will host a book launch party for Shane K. Bernard’s “Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou” from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Teche Center for the Arts in Breaux Bridge. Bernard will also sign books at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Longfellow-Evangeline State Park in St. Martinville.
Jarita Davis, a poet and fiction writer with degrees from Brown University and UL-Lafayette, will read from her recently published book of poetry, “Return Flights,” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on the UL campus and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the UL-Lafayette Library. Davis’s work has appeared in Southwestern Review, Cave Canem Anthologies, Crab Orchard Review, Plainsongs, Tuesday: An Art Project, Verdad Magazine, and the Cape Cod Poetry Review.
            Patrick Holian and Martin Fulmer will read as part of the Thursday Night Reading presented by the UL-Lafayette English Department, EGSA and Sigma Tau Delta at 7 p.m. Thursday at Poets, 1043 Johnston St. There will also be a Bad Poetry Reading at Achilles Print Studio, both in downtown Lafayette.
Nationally-acclaimed poet and Shreveport native Jericho Brown visits Centenary’s Meadows Museum of Art for a poetry reading at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
A poet Q&A follows the reading and refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Festival of Words offers annual workshops Oct. 27 to students in St. Landry Parish Schools

Rain Gomez
Once again, Festival of Words Authors will give workshops in poetry and fiction writing and performance for students in St. Landry Parish Schools beginning Oct. 27 with performance artist Bruce Coen and Kristina Marshall spending the morning with Magnet Academy for Cultural Arts students in Opelousas. Coen will teach improvisation and poetry interpretation. They will later teach students at Sunset Middle School, preparing students for Drive-by Poetry in the cafes and shops of Grand Coteau at the annual Festival of Words on Saturday, Nov. 5. 

Students will gather to listen to visiting authors, to write with them and will have the chance to share their original writings with these guests. Some will be meeting an author for the first time and will get a sense of career options for writers. Author and scholar Rain Prud’homme-Cranford (Goméz), Ph.D., will teach a special creative writing workshop in Opelousas High School. Students are preparing by reading her poetry and writing their own poems to share. Students at Sunset Elementary will learn songwriting from popular musician Yvette Landry. Landry is also the author of children’s literature. 

Learn more about the Festival of Words at  Learn more about the authors at For more information, contact Patrice Melnick: or 337-662-1032.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday ebook spotlight: A Cajun Dream

The fifth book in my Cajun Series of historical romances was actually my debut novel. And “A Cajun Dream” (FREE download until Nov. 1) was actually a dream.  

I woke up one morning during that “Twilight Time,” around 2 a.m., and this story flitted across my mind like a movie. I kept thinking, “This is awesome and I should write it down,” but I didn’t want to interrupt the story. Seriously, it was like watching a film! In the back of my mind I knew I would never remember what I was seeing when I woke up the next morning, but amazingly enough, I did. It was as if the universe was gifting me a story to share.

The original title was “Jolie Blonde,” because this story was to be the fictional tale behind what we call the Cajun National Anthem, a song titled “Ma Blonde est Partie," later shortened to Jolie Blonde” or beautiful blonde. It’s a popular song in South Louisiana and a sad tale of a beautiful blonde woman that the singer begs not to return home to her family. Want to hear it? Click here to enjoy Michael Doucet, Aly Bain and Ricky Skaggs perform "Jolie Blonde." 

In my story, all ends well (it is a romance, after all) but the name was changed because, as my editor informed me, most Americans don’t understand French so a French title is completely out of the question. She was right. And the title became “A Cajun Dream,” which is appropriate, don’t you think?

My debut novel went on to win awards and final for many others. 

“A Cajun Dream” is free from now until Nov. 1, a Halloween present to my readers. It has become the fifth book in the series because following this novel and its sequel, “The Letter” novella, I wrote four books preceding the story. When I launched all six books as ebooks, I put the stories in chronological order. (And let me also mention that the first book in the series, "Emilie," is always free.)
Here’s the book description:

Spurned by the Americans living in the South Louisiana town of Franklin because of her Catholic upbringing, and forbidden to associate with the French Creoles and Cajuns by her father, Amanda Rose Richardson believes she is destined to become an old maid. When she finds herself in a compromised situation by the town rogue, it is her good friend René Comeaux, the darkly handsome and passionate Cajun who rescues her. Unbeknown to Amanda, René has been in love with her for months. But can René convince her father his intensions are honorable and win the heart of the "Jolie Blonde" he adores? 

Here’s what others said: 
"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." — Maria C. Ferrer for Romantic Times magazine 

"What a marvelous debut! Cherie Claire is sure to earn a bevy of fans with this charming and heartwarming tale." — Rexanne Becnel, author of Blink of An Eye 

Want to read a preview? Click here.
Want to purchase the book (FREE until Nov. 1)? Click on your favorite bookstore below.


Louisiana Book News is written by journalist Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. The first two books in her award-winning series are free as ebooks! For more information and to sign up for her newsletter visit

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Louisiana Book Festival is Oct 29 in Baton Rouge; plus conferences and book events this week

            The Louisiana Book Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the State Library of Louisiana, Louisiana State Capitol, Capitol Park Museum, and in tents on neighboring streets in Baton Rouge. It’s a free festival full of children’s activities, authors discussing books, live music, food and so much more. There are more than 220 authors, panelists and other participants and more than 150 programs scheduled for this year. You won’t want to miss it.
Some of the authors attending the Louisiana Book Festival are:
The Advertiser’s own Herman Fuselier and Philip Gould will discuss their new book, “Ghosts of Good Times: South Louisiana Dance Halls Past and Present.”
Barry Jean Ancelet and Denise Gallagher will discuss their book “Jean le Chasseur et ses Chiens” and Ancelet, Zachary Richard, Brenda Mounier and Kirby Jambon present “The Gift of Les Cenelles in Word and Song,: a celebration of Louisiana's French language poetry tradition, past and present,” featuring French Immersion students reading from the original anthology published in New Orleans in 1845.  
Award-winning author and filmmaker William Joyce of Shreveport will discuss his latest children’s book, “Ollie’s Odyssey.” Joyce is also the author of “Billy’s Booger,” “The Numberlys,” “The Man in the Moon,” “Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King,” “A Bean, A Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack,” “Dinosaur Bob,” “Bently & Egg; A Day with Wilbur Robinson” and the No. 1 New York Times bestselling “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” which is also his Academy Award–winning short film.
Award-winning musician Yvette Landry discusses her new young adult story based on a Cajun folktale, “Madame Grand Doigt.”
            Dixon Hearne of Sterlington is the author of “From Tickfaw to Shongaloo,” “Delta Flats: Stories in the Key of Blues and Hope,” nominated for the PEN/Faulkner award and “Plantatia: High-toned and Lowdown Stories of the South,” which was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway award and won the Creative Spirit Award for best general fiction book. He will participate in Louisiana Poets and discuss “Celebrating Short Stories.”
            Wendy Rodrigue intended to present “The Other Side of the Painting” (UL Press) with her husband, artist George Rodrigue, at the 2013 Louisiana Book Festival but George Rodrigue’s illness forced their cancellation. Wendy Rodrigue returns to share their story, as well as plans for continuing Rodrigue’s artistic and philanthropic legacy. Her presentation includes original Rodrigue artwork, including the book’s 1965 cover painting.
Dianne Dempsey-Legnon is a teacher consultant for the Acadiana Writing Project at the UL-Lafayette and author of “Belair Cove: A Novel of Life, Love, and Loss in a Prairie Cajun Village.” She will speak about her latest, “A Louisiana Soldier: Willis A. Fontenot.”
Dixie Poché, author of “Classic Eateries of Cajun Country,” discusses eating out in Acadiana along with Alex Cook.
Sherry T. Broussard, storyteller and author of “African Americans in Lafayette and Southwest Louisiana” and “Louisiana’s Zydeco,” will visit the storytelling tent.
Ann Dobie interviews artist Kelly Guidry and former Louisiana poet laureate Darrel Bourque in “A Chainsaw Guy, a Poet, and a Book Angel.” Guidry created a book angel, which he named “Libby” for libraries and librarians, and used Bourque’s “Words, A Poem” engraved on Libby’s wings.
Michael S. Martin, director of the UL Center for Louisiana Studies and author of “Russell Long: A Life in Politics,” discusses “Creolization in the French Americas.” Former UL Center Director Carl A. Brasseaux will talk about “America Third Coast” with Shane Bernard, Christopher Cenac, Claire Domangue Joller and Wendy Rodrigue. And Bernard will also speak about his latest book, “Teche: A History of Louisiana's Most Famous Bayou.”
 Charlie Spillers, a career federal prosecutor and Justice Attaché for Iraq, will offer tales from his “Confessions of an Undercover Agent: Adventures, Close Calls, and the Toll of a Double Life.”
Judy Christie is the author of nine novels, including “Wreath, A Girl,” optioned for film/TV and twice named Pulpwood Queen Book Club Teen Book of the Year.  She will discuss “Wreath, In Summer: A Wreath Willis Novel.”
Author, radio host and speaker Shellie Rushing Tomlinson of Lake Providence will discuss her new cookbook, “Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce: Recipes & Ramblings from the Belle of All Things Southern.”
 Jim Bradshaw shares stories from his latest book, “Cajuns and Other Characters: True Stories From South Louisiana.”
Patricia M. Gaitely relates “Robicheaux's Roots: Culture and Tradition in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux Novels.”
George Graham of Lafayette talks about his latest cookbook, “Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana.”
And yours truly will be leading a panel on ebook publishing titled “A New Frontier: Electronic Publishing for the Digital Age” along with Julie Smith, Lori Leger, Nancy Duplechain and Farrah Rochon at 11:15 a.m.
For more information, visit

New releases
            Self-publishing has gotten easier and more varied and this new world has become inspiring for many people, including young writers. Take Zelvin Collins II, for instance, a New Orleans teenager who is the son of “Celestial Blue Skies” author Maggie Collins. He was influenced by his mother's work while she was competing in the William Faulkner Pulitzer Prize contest and the Ernest Gaines Award. He wrote his first book, “Tyrone's New Life,” by hand in the summer of 2015, and published it this year. He even drew his own picture of Tyrone onto a piece of paper for the cover of the book. The story is available through

Book events
Registration is ongoing for the annual Bridge to Publication Conference, hosted by the Bayou Writers Group and happening Saturday, Nov. 12, at their new venue, the historic Central School in Lake Charles.  There will be workshops by Christian fiction Author DiAnn Mills, crime-mystery author BJ Bourg, and much more. Registration is $40 for Bayou Writers Group members and $50 for nonmembers but scholarships are available.  For more information, visit
Deborah Burst will sign her latest book, “Spirits from the Bayou,” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church Fun Day fundraiser in Houma and at 6 p.m. Thursday at the St. Tammany Parish South Slidell Branch library.
Miriam Horn discusses and signs “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Fisherman tells the stories of five representatives of this land stewardship movement: a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi riverman, a Louisiana shrimper and a Gulf fisherman.
Nolan Meditz and Kimberly Ann Southwick will read as part of the Thursday Night Reading presented by the UL-Lafayette English Department, EGSA and Sigma Tau Delta at 7 p.m. Thursday at Poets, 1043 Johnston St. in Lafayette.
Author Dixie Poché is the guest speaker at the Friends of the Lafayette Public Library annual Author Dinner on Thursday at the Petroleum Club of Lafayette. Poché is the author of “Classic Eateries of Cajun Country.” For more information, call Bobbie at (337) 984-8661.
Tales Along the Bayou, featuring musicians Brian and Terri Kinder, storyteller Sylvia Yancy Davis and musician and storyteller Mike Anderson will be from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Kent Plantation House in Alexandria. Ghost tales and ghoulish fun for all ages.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at

Friday, October 21, 2016

Meet debut author Michael Hoard

Michael Hoard hails from Lafayette, Louisiana, but he currently lives in Middletown, New York, occasionally traveling home to work offshore. He’s published a haunting novella titled “A Forsaken Soul” about a teenager who makes an error in judgment, is convicted of a felony crime and ends up in the brutal world of prison life. If you’ve seen the recent mini-series “The Night Of” on HBO, you’ll relate to the impact of this story and what  young innocents must do to survive prison life.

On the flip side, Hoard has published a charming novel appealing to young and old alike in “The Mystery of the Rougarou: A Nick Landry and Billy Boudreaux Adventure.”

Q: What made you write a story about a compassionate young man who’s thrown into prison and must become hardened and sometimes cruel to survive in such a dark world?

A: I wrote this story while serving time in a Louisiana state prison. I remember my writing started in the form of a long seven-page letter that I wrote and rewrote over 400 times. I purchased rolls of stamps and stacks of envelopes from the jail store and mailed these letters to over half the middle and high schools in the state in an attempt to help kids see how life can change in the blink of an eye. That was during my first year, which was served in the parish jail. I was desperate to not give in to the jail house mentality and it worked, until I was transferred to a state prison. Things were different there. I learned quickly not to become friends with anyone. There is always an alternative motive when someone approaches you with kind words. Usually they just want free cigarettes or snacks, but occasionally, it becomes violent, like in (character) Mike Crawford’s case. I began to change and the outside world began to fade in my mind.

In a birthday card I received from my dad he finished it with a birthday wish that struck me deeply, “May you always choose happiness over sorrow.” I started writing this book soon after to remind myself that happiness will be offered to me again. I just had to stay strong and repeat that quote when I was having a bad day. I saw good people change on the inside; I saw some go nuts; I saw people abused by not only other inmates, but guards as well; and I saw my release date shining brightly in my future.

Q: Your "Rougarou" novel is quite the opposite, following 12-year-old Cajun boys Billy Boudreaux and Nick Landry at their “Swamp Camp” who try to solve the mystery of a Cajun legend. What was your inspiration for this tale?

A: I remember back to when I was a Boy Scout and our Scout leader told us this story by the campfire. It scared the bejesus out of me and I wasn’t able to enjoy our game of spot light, which went by the same rules as tag but the person who was “it” had a spot light to look for you. I stayed very close to the campfire that night, and as a result, I was “it” quite often!

Q: The camp and the swamp environment in “Mystery of the Rougarou” is described in rich detail. Is this based on your own experiences?

A: “Swamp Camp” was in fact the camp we had as kids. Like Nick, I would spend hours out there alone watching and learning. The swamp was always my private sanctuary and it will always be thought of as such by me. The trail leading from Nick’s house to the camp is the same trail that led from my back yard. The transition from field grass, to willow trees, to swamp is exactly as how I remember it and the trancelike state that Nick falls into as he follows behind Billy is exactly how I felt when walking out there. This story was easy to write for me – I just had to put on paper exactly what I remember seeing as a boy and how it made me feel.

Q: What was life like when you were 12 growing up in Acadiana?
Michael Hoard
A: We moved from Melrose, Florida, to Pierre Part (Louisiana) when I was 12. I quickly acquired two best friends that I still keep in touch with occasionally, 36 years after moving from there. I loved the crawfish boils, the team sports, the hardworking, God-fearing people, and the abundant wildlife and beautiful scenery that surrounded my community. Most of all, I loved the adventure that was never lacking with so much untamed wilderness to explore. I still remember my mom’s hollering from our back yard that it was time to come home – unlike Nick and Billy, I was sometimes late coming in from Swamp Camp, haha. I only wish that every boy had the opportunity to grow up in such a rich environment to learn the good things not taught in school.

Q: You work in the oil and gas business. Was writing something you always wanted to do?

A: Haha, I never knew I could! It wasn’t until I saw an old friend from college on Facebook and learned that her hobby is editing for her sister who has published several books on Acadian history. I mentioned “A Forsaken Soul” to her and she insisted I send it. After reading it she said, “This is a powerful story and you gotta get it published!” Going through the publishing phase of this book lit a fire in my belly. I wanted to write another one and since I always liked “The Hardy Boys” and “Tom Sawyer,” I decided on an adventure. 

Q: And what new books will we have to look forward to?

A: Well, let me just say this, Nick and Billy are currently at a birthday party discussing the campout they will be going out on tomorrow night.

Q: And….any book events coming up?

A: Sadly, my books do not pay my bills and with my work schedule it is very difficult to plan in advance. However, I do have a tentative date set for late November or early December for my first book signing!. This will take place at the Montgomery Book Exchange in Montgomery, New York. I would love to start book signings in Louisiana but have not had a chance to get out and meet the people I want to. With winter comes a slowdown in offshore construction work so you can bet I’ll be out there mingling with others that love literature soon.