Sunday, April 30, 2017

William Joyce unveils three new picture books

Atheneum Young Readers is publishing several of William Joyce’s children’s books this year, under the label of “The World of William Joyce.”

First up for the Shreveport author is “Bently & Egg,” a delightful picture book featuring Bently Hopperton, a musical frog who would love to be doing anything than watching an egg. But he promises his best friend Kack Kack he will protect the duck’s egg while she visits her sister. A creative frog will easily bore sitting on a nest so he pulls out his paints and decorates the egg. Soon a child discovers the decorative egg, thinking the Easter Bunny left it, and poor Bently must use all of his creativity to return the egg back to its nest and the loving beak of Kack Kack.

Released this week are “A Day With Wilbur Robinson” (Joyce produced the film adaption known as “Meet the Robinsons”) and “Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo.” The first follows a visit to the Robinson household where all the family members have fascinating occupations and hobbies, such as Uncle Nimbus with his snowball shooting device or the grandfather who leads a dancing frog band with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Wilbur Robinson thinks it’s all in a dull day, but readers will have a ball.

Another interesting family — what else would Joyce create? — are the Lazardos, who on a travel expedition discover a dinosaur they name Bob and bring home to Pimlico Hills. Bob naturally becomes famous but gets into trouble for chasing cars. In the end, he triumphs, especially after playing a mean baseball and helping the struggling home team win.

Joyce is a best-selling author of several children’s books, in addition to creating several films and TV shows.

New releases
Nick Douglas, author of “Finding Octave: The Untold History of Two Creole Families and Slavery in Louisiana,” has just released “Reclaiming Black History, Finding Admirable Ancestors, a Wealth of Heroism and Traits that Shatter Defeatist Cliches.” The book aims to place underserved groups and women into a new narrative that ends the separation of minorities from standard American history. Douglas is a regular contributor to AFROPUNK where he writes a feature called “Know Your Black History.”

I’ve been enjoying the sweet sounds of baby birds in my backyard; so far I’ve spotted young cardinals, wrens and house finches. I hear those unusual tweaks among the branches but it’s difficult to identify them just by sounds. But now there’s the “Peterson Field Guild to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America” by Nathan Pieplow to assist us. 
Book Festival
The lineup for the Mississippi Book Festival has been announced. Some of the authors attending the Aug. 19 festival in Jackson are: Greg Iles (“Mississippi Blood”), Angie Thomas (“The Hate You Give”), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford, Linda Williams Jackson (debut novel, “Midnight Without a Moon”), Ron Rash, Ellen Gilchrist, Candice Millard, Michael Farris Smith, William Ferris and many more. For information, visit

Book events for April 30-May 6
Karissa Haugeberg will discuss and sign “Women Against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Haugeberg is an assistant professor of history at Tulane University. She edits the Newcomb College Institute’s “Journal for Research on Women and Gender.”

Pamela D. Arceneaux, author of The Historic New Orleans Collection’s recently released publication “Guidebooks to Sin: The Blue Books of Storyville, New Orleans,” will give a presentation on the book at the Friends of the Jefferson Parish Library General Meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. “Guidebooks to Sin” is the contemporary study of blue books, the guides to Storyville, the legal red-light district that thrived on the edge of the French Quarter from 1897 to 1917. The event is free and open to the public, and books will also be available for purchase on site. A signing will immediately follow the presentation.

French Fun Day, a morning of stories, activities and special guests presenting en français, will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Main Lafayette Library.

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Two great poetry events happening this week

It’s National Poetry Month and we have two great events to announce.

First up is former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque reading poems from his most recent publication, “Where I Waited,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Chicory’s Coffee & Café in Grand Coteau, part of the Festival of Words literary organization. Bourque will be joined by Bernice Murry of Grand Coteau, offering oral history of the area to be videotaped and placed in the Cajun and Creole Archives at the Center for Louisiana Studies in the “Grand Coteau Voices” collection. Bourque is professor emeritus of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he directed the interdisciplinary humanities program and served as the first Friends of the Humanities professor. He is a founding member of Narrative4, an international story exchange program, a member of the board at the Ernest J. Gaines Center at ULL and a former Louisiana Poet Laureate. “Where I Waited” is his 10th work. The chapbook “if you abandon me, comment je vas faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook” is the best-selling book in Yellow Flag Press history, now in its ninth printing. Bourque recently won the 2016 James William River Prize in Louisiana Studies from the UL Center for Louisiana Studies. The prize selection committee cited Bourque’s “longstanding commitment to and leadership in the realm of preserving and expanding our understanding of Louisiana through poetry.”

Guests to Wednesday’s event are welcome to bring their own poems, songs or stories for the open mic. This free, community event is suitable for all ages. For more information, call Patrice Melnick at (337) 254-9695 or email

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Louisiana Center for the Book will host its seventh annual “Just Listen to Yourself: The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets” program with current Louisiana Poet Laureate Peter Cooley from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Seminar Center of the State Library, 701 N. Fourth St., Baton Rouge. Cooley has invited poets across the state to participate in readings of their work, including Jack Bedell, Gina Ferrara, John Gery, Clare Martin, Biljana Obradovic, Andrea Panzeca, Mona Lisa Saloy and John Warner Smith, as well as previous Louisiana poet laureates Bourque and Julie Kane. Attendees are not required to register for this free event but are invited to bring brown bag lunches.

The Louisiana Center for the Book was established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 to stimulate public interest in reading, books and libraries. For more information, visit

New releases
John L. Carr, the University of Louisiana at Monroe Kitty DeGree Endowed Professorship in biology and the curator of the ULM Museum of Natural History, and Jeff Boundy, a herpetologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, has published “Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana: An Identification and Reference Guide” by LSU Press. The book describes 139 native amphibians and reptiles, along with eight non-native species now found in the state.

The Southern Review’s spring 2017 issue is out and features an academic visiting Oxford to write on the films of Hitchcock in Robert Hahn’s “The Poisoner,” a trafficker in Singapore bringing “soccer players” from Nigeria in Iheoma Nwachukwu’s “Urban Gorilla” and Nicholas Mainieri’s “Port of Embarkation,” which imagines troops on the brink of the Mexican-American War. Nonfiction includes Sandra Gail Lambert’s assessment of her own declining mobility in “Etymology” and poetry includes R.T. Smith, a writer featured in the recent “Best American Poetry,” who takes readers to the Civil War through the eyes of a still-life painter. And there’s much more. The spring issue is now available for purchase online at

New Orleans native Tina DeSalvo has published “Out-lanta: a Second Chance Novella” as part of the Magnolias and Moonshine Series. De Salvo, who now lives in Cajun Conuntry, sets her book in in Atlanta when heroine Ania Darska runs out of her wedding right into the car of Luke Marcelle, who is sightseeing with his elderly Cajun matriarch friend, Tanté Izzy, and her niece, Ruby. The series features 20 New York Times, USA Today and Amazon bestselling authors telling Southern love stories.

Joseph Willie has published “Blood in the Woods,” inspired by true events that occurred in his hometown of Hammond. Willie is a soldier currently stationed at Fort Polk.

Book Day
Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday, a day to support your local independent bookstore. How about visiting Jen Sincero, author of “You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth” at 2 p.m. today or Jon McCarthy, author of “Hard Roll: A Paramedic’s Perspective of Life and Death in New Orleans,” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Garden District Bookshop in New Orleans? Or meeting award-winning children’s book author David Wiesner, who will sign his latest, “Fish Girl,” at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Square Books Jr. in Oxford, Miss. Octavia Books of New Orleans is hosting Joan Nathan, author of numerous cookbooks, including “Jewish Cooking in America” and “The New American Cooking,” both of which won the James Beard Award and the IACP Award for best cookbook of the year. Nathan will sign her latest, “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Jewish Community Center of New Orleans, appearing with James Beard Award-winning New Orleans chef Alon Shaya.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: Jennifer Blake

Jennifer Blake, who lives on a lake in northern Louisiana, has been called "the steel magnolia of women's fiction" for her enduring career as an author. She has also been lauded as a "pioneer of the romance genre" and an "icon of the romance industry." A New York Times and international best-selling author from the publication of "Love's Wild Desire" in 1977, she is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, member of the RWA and Affaire de Coeur Halls of Fame, and recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement Rita. She holds numerous other honors, including two Maggies, two Holt Medallions, multiple Reviewer's Choice awards, the Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times BookReviews Magazine, and the Frank Waters Award for literary excellence. She has written 65 books with translations in 20 languages and more than 30 million copies in print.

She has many Kindle books that are discounted and free but today we’re discussing the Kindle version of “Challenge to Honor,” book one of the “Masters At Arms” series.  

Here’s the description:

Horrified at the thought of her brother facing the notorious swordsman, Rio de Silva, on the dueling field, Celina Vallier pays a clandestine visit to the maitre d'armes. Surely she can appeal to his honor and sense of fair play? What advantage can there be for him in killing such an inexperienced opponent, after all?

Rio had no intention of dispatching the young whelp; a scratch or two would suffice to mend his manners. That changes as he moves closer to Celina. Not only is she lovely and spirited, but she's the future bride of his sworn enemy, the Count de Lerida. What could be more satisfying than to deny him that prize? That's if the lady can be persuaded to give up her innocence.

Agreeing to the infamous pact is the most daring thing Celina has ever done. It's also the most dangerous as scandal and vengeance erupts around her. Caught in the tumult, she must decide who to trust: the man who offers wealth and security — or the one who sets her soul aflame?

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, April 16, 2017

Award-winner Kimberly Willis Holt pens another winner with 'Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel'

Kimberly Willis Holt, author of the National Book Award-winning novel “My Louisiana Sky,” wasn’t born in Louisiana, but Louisiana keeps appearing in her books. Her parents hailed from Forest Hill and she had such fond memories of the central Louisiana town that many of her stories are set in fictional towns based on Forest Hill or in Forest Hill itself.

But I digress, because what I really want to write about is her charming latest chapter book for young readers, “Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel.” Thirteen-year-old Stevie loses her parents in a car accident and is forced to move in with her grumpy grandfather, Winston, who owns a run-down motel in Esther, Texas. There are so many things Winston isn’t saying about Stevie’s parents and why she never knew about him or her grandmother, who’s deceased. Winston isn’t comforting either, coming across as a cold, unfeeling man. The motel and town consist of several interesting characters, all who provide unique aspects to the story. There’s eclectic Violet who runs the motel office and lives in a colorful Victorian in need of landscaping; Mrs. Crump who home schools Stevie but has narcolepsy and falls asleep precisely at 12:30 sharp; and Roy, the 13-year-old son of the motel’s maintenance man who befriends Stevie. They all work together to provide our engaging main character with support and comfort and convince her that Winston isn’t all that bad. And, as the story of her parents emerges, both Stevie and Winston begin to understand each other.

Back to the Louisiana connection — along the way Stevie discovers more family members, her father’s sister who runs a nursery in Forest Hill. She realizes why her father loved gardening so much, a trait he passed on to Stevie. The Forest Hill family provides the support she needs but can Stevie leave her grandfather and the Texas Sunrise Motel behind?

I’ve read several of Willis’s books and this one tops my list, filled with enjoyable characters who waltz in and out of Stevie’s life and keep us guessing on where the plot moves next. Stevie’s story flows sweet and gentle like a summer breeze on flowers, and you’ll find yourself smiling through most of its pages. Don’t miss passing along this sweet tale to your young blooming readers.

Louisiana Comic Con
Louisiana Comic Con, a two-day fan convention with appearances by TV and movie personalities, comic book artists and more, will be Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport. The event will include more than 20 celebrity guests, such as Jason Mewes (“Clerks,” “Jay” and “Silent Bob Strikes Back”); Seth Gilliam (“The Walking Dead,” “The Wire”); Johnny Yong Bosch (“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”); pro wrestling legend Ted DiBiase and more. Guests from the world of comics and animation include James O’Barr, creator of the comic book series “The Crow;” Bob McLeod, author “The New Mutants,” “Spider-Man” and “G.I. Joe;” Tom Cook, animator of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and more. For a complete list of guests, visit

Book news
The UL-Lafayette Press is having to give up warehouse space so it’s having a Warehouse Clearance Sale from 9-4 pm Wednesday and Thursday on the third floor of UL’s Dupre Library. It will take place during the University’s Spring Break, so there should be plenty of available parking. There will be thousands of books, representing dozens of titles at greatly reduced prices. Visit to see what items will be on sale.

Entries for the 11th annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, created to honor outstanding literary work from rising African-American authors, will be accepted now through Aug. 15. The Gaines Award honors novels or short-story collections published in 2017. Galleys for 2017 publications are also accepted. The winner is chosen annually by a panel of professional writers and academics and will be honored on Jan. 18, 2018, at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge. Information on criteria and entrance forms for the award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, is available at

Mary S. Palmer, an English lecturer at Faulkner University in Mobile, Ala., has been awarded a grant from Faulkner to write a book about the new genre of Tourism Writing. Palmer co-authored “The Callings” with Loretta Theriot of Lafayette.

Kristina Mullenix of Juniper Creek Editing and Literary Services will hold a three-day workshop titled “How to be a Poet” May 2-4 in Ocean Springs, Miss. The workshop will include a class, a writing lab and a poetry showcase. For more information or to register, contact the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts & Education at (228) 818-2878 or visit

The Alabama Writers’ Conclave will host a writers’ conference and contest June 30 through July 2 in Birmingham. Larry Brooks will be the keynote speaker. For more information, visit

At the library
Jon Donlon has researched what is considered “purple leisure” activities, which often include gambling and the topic of his book, cockfighting in southern Louisiana. He will discuss his book “Bayou Country Bloodsport," and the cultural impact cockfighting has had on southern Louisiana, at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Iberia Parish Library St. Peter Branch, 1111 W. St. Peter St. in New Iberia. For more information, call (337) 364-7150 or visit

Southern Writers Workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Main Terrebonne Parish Library in Houma.

Mary Ann Armbruster, co-chair of the Healer’s Demonstration Garden at Vermilionville, will lead a talk on “Medicinal Plants of Louisiana” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lafayette Main Library.

The Victory Garden Spring Planting Party, in collaboration with Townfolk and the Urban Naturalist, will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at 217 Olivier St. in downtown Lafayette. Then on Saturday, participants are asked to help with the Carencro Community Garden at 10 a.m., located behind the North Regional Library.

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: 'Band of Brothers'

“Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest” by Stephen E. Ambrose is on sale now for $1.99 as an ebook download. The book was a New York Times bestseller about the ordinary men who became World War II’s extraordinary soldiers in Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army. The book was later made into an award-winning mini-series. Ambrose was an historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, among many bestselling volumes of American popular history, and a longtime professor of history at the University of New Orleans. His work with the Eisenhower Center and D-Day veterans inspired him to found the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, which is now called the National World War II Museum.

Here’s the publisher’s description of “Band of Brothers:”

They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak—in Holland and the Ardennes—Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world.

From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments.

They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach; they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign; they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge; and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler’s Bavarian outpost, his Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden.

They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.

This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal—it was a badge of office.

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

William Joyce to be honored as Humanist of the Year by Louisiana Endownment for Humanities

Author, illustrator, and pioneer in the digital and animation industry William Joyce will be honored as the 2017 Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. The award is given annually by the state's humanities council as part of its efforts to recognize the individuals and organizations making invaluable contributions to the culture of Louisiana. Joyce will be honored on Thursday at the 2017 LEH Bright Lights Awards Dinner at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge. The event is open to the public, and tickets start at $150.

In 2009, Joyce co-founded Moonbot Studios, a multimedia storytelling company in Shreveport, exploring books, apps, films and video games. The studio's projects have won numerous awards and accolades, including an Oscar for Best Animated Short for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore,” Annie Award, multiple Webby and Emmy awards and inclusion in the iTunes App Store Hall of Fame. Since beginning his career as children's book author and illustrator, Joyce has nearly 50 books to his credit.

The LEH will also recognize the following writers:
Humanities Books Awards goes to Shane K. Bernard, author of “Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou” and “Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume 1: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana” by Christopher Everette Cenac with Claire Domangue Joller, both published by the University Press of Mississippi.

The Light Up for Literacy Award goes to Richard Louth, a professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University and founding director of the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project.

The Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities will be awarded to author, editor and archivist Susan Tucker, who served as Curator of Books and Records at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women from 1988 to 2015.

Bayou State Book Talk
Historian John Troutman will discuss his new book “Kīkā Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the downtown branch of the Lafayette Public Library, part of the Bayou State Book Talks. Troutman has taught courses in public history, American music history and indigenous studies at UL-Lafayette. He recently accepted a new position as Curator of American Music at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. His first book, “Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934,” won the Western History Association’s biennial 2011 W. Turrentine Jackson Prize for a first book on any aspect of the American West.

‘Garden Legacy’
The Historic New Orleans Collection, known for its publication of gorgeous coffee table-style history books, has added a new gem to its crown, “Garden Legacy” by preservationists Mary Louise Mossy Christovich and Roulhac Bunkley Toledano. The book offers a survey of more than three centuries of garden design in New Orleans. Both authors will be presenting their latest work at a book release party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at The Historic New Orleans Collection, 533 Royal St. in the French Quarter and at 6 p.m. April 18 at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St. in New Orleans.

New releases
Andrea Brew received her bachelor’s degree from Southern, followed by a master’s in education from Northwestern, and she shares her love of the annual Bayou Classic, where Southern University and Grambling meet in both football and marching band competition, with “’Twas the Night Before Bayou Classic” (Mascot Books). The children’s book, illustrated by Agus Prajogo, follows a Southern University family on the eve of the Bayou Classic, when who should arrive but a Grambling fan. Brew is a Louisiana native and has been working in education for 14 years, most currently as an elementary school librarian.

Releasing this past week was C.S. Harris’s “Where the Dead Lie,” the 12th book in the Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series.

Book events
The Civil War Book Review will sponsor a lecture at 11 a.m. Monday in Hill Memorial Library on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Patrick Hayes will speak about his most recent publication, “The Civil War Diary of Rev. James Sheeran, C.S.s.R.” Irish-born Sheeran was chaplain to the 14th Louisiana Regiment of the Confederacy, one of only a few dozen Catholic chaplains commissioned for the Confederacy and one of only two who kept a journal.

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Letters About Literature Contest winners announced

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana announced the 2017 winners of the annual Letters About Literature contest. This year, 670 fourth through 12th grade Louisiana students wrote personal letters to authors, living or dead, to thank them and to explain how their works in various genres changed the students’ way of thinking about the world or themselves. The winners of the competition, students from throughout the state, are listed below.

Level I (grades 4 – 6)
1st Place:                             Zelia Lerch, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans
2nd Place:                           Fletcher Reed, Cathedral-Carmel School, Lafayette
3rd Place:                            Christina You, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans
Level II (grades 7 – 8)
1st Place:                             Olivia Bell, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans
2nd Place:                           Taylor Allen, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans
3rd Place:                            Nia Talbott, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans
Level III (grades 9 – 12)
1st Place:                             Jessica Xu, Independent Submission, Metairie
2nd Place (Tied):                 Joseph Ernest Giberga, St. Paul’s School, Covington
2nd Place (Tied):                 Isabella Redman, Bolton High School, Alexandria              

Winners receive $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place, and they will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 28, in Baton Rouge, with the first place winners reading their letters there. Louisiana’s first place winners’ entries have been submitted to the Library of Congress for the national competition. To read the winners’ letters and see the names of all the state finalists, visit

Letters About Literature is made possible by a grant from the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes and administers the contest through its affiliate state centers for the book, state libraries and other organizations. In Louisiana, the contest is made possible by the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana with additional assistance from the Louisiana Writing Project and the Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation. Funding for prizes is provided by the Library of Congress grant. 

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cook diary tells of plantation life in Tensas Parish

At age 12, after the death of her mother, Elizabeth Lucille Cook came to live in Tensas Parish at the home of her aunt and uncle. She married Will Watson in 1920 and remained at Cross Keys Plantation until her death in 1985.      For many years, Lucille kept a diary, detailing life at Cross Keys from her love of animals and playing tennis on the property’s courts to struggling through the Depression and losing loved ones.

“This was no ordinary diary, but virtually a non-fiction novel covering the events and happenings from 1927-1932,” writes Lucille’s nephew William Wade Watson, who published the diary titled “High Water, High Cotton and High Times.”

The book is divided into topics, rather than chronological events, and accented by photos. They include the outdoors, levee works, automobiles, the Cosmopolitan Club, animals, farming and parties. A frequent visitor to Cross Keys was Gen. Claire Chennault and several of his letters to Lucille are included in the book, providing a rare glimpse into life leading up to World War II.

Watson, a banker living on Lake Bruin and a graduate of Tulane University Law School, has given us a gift in publishing Lucille’s diary. Her vibrant personality shines through the words and I can’t help thinking she’s grateful her stories have been shared.

Deep South luncheon
The Deep South in the Global South presents an author luncheon and reading with John McNally, UL-Lafayette’s Writer-in-Residence, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cecil J. Picard Center on the UL-Lafayette campus. McNally is the author of the novels: “After the Workshop,” “The Book of Ralph” and “America’s Report Card” and two story collections, “Troublemakers” (winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award and the Nebraska Book Award) and “Ghosts of Chicago” (a Chicagoland Indie Bestseller). McNally’s work has appeared in more than 100 publications, and his fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized in numerous publications. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the recipient of fellowships from Paramount Pictures, the University of Iowa (James Michener Award), George Washington University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Tickets are available to the free event through For more information, visit

Flood of 1927
Charles Ray Brassieur, cultural anthropologist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will discuss the “Flood of 1927” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Jeanerette Museum, 500 E. Main St. in Jeanerette. The program marks the 90th anniversary of the flood and addresses how it affected life in Louisiana. Brassieur will discuss what caused the flood and how it affected Louisiana residents. Charles Caillouet will serve as co-presenter. Audience members will be allowed to briefly share family stories following the talk. Brassieur is co-author with Greg Guirard of “Inherit the Atchafalaya.” Caillouet is a founding member of the Friends of Atchafalaya and is the Ascension Parish member of the Atchafalaya Trace Commission, the managing entity of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. This free program is suitable for an adult audience. For more information visit, email, follow them on Facebook, or call (337) 276-4408.

Book events for the week of April 2-8
The Acadiana Writing Project hosts a free writing workshop with acclaimed author Margaret Wrinkle from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Cecil Picard Center on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus. Wrinkle is the author of “Wash,” winner of the 2013 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from NYC’s Center for Fiction and was named one of Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Novels of 2013, among other awards. For information, visit

Pictures with the Easter Bunny, hosted by Holley’s Hopping Habitat rabbit rescue, will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Mooringsport Library.

Guest art curator and author Christopher Bennet, assistant professor of art history at UL-Lafayette, will offer a guided gallery tour and discussion of the art exhibit and soon-to-be book by UL Press, “Sandra Eula Lee: Make of / Make do and Yun-Fei Ji: Looking for Lehman Brothers,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum of Lafayette.

Beyond Black History Month lecture series features UL-Lafayette History Professor Ian Beamish, who will speak on Louisiana’s black history at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Main Lafayette Library.

Blackout Poetry Contest for teens will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Hamilton-South Caddo Branch Library in Shreveport. All poems must be turned in to the branch by Wednesday and the pieces will be on display Thursday, when there will be voting, awards and a tribute to Maya Angelou.

Lyrically Inclined 2.0: Latin Poetry Night, featuring bilingual performances and an open mic, will begin at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) Friday at Cite des Arts.

C.S. Harris signs “Where the Dead Lie” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans. Also at the store, editor Susan Cushman signs “A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We are Meant to Be” with contributors Emma Connolly of New Orleans, Nancy Kay Wessman and Susan Marquez at 6 p.m. Wednesday and James Nolan signs “Flight Risk: Memoirs of a New Orleans Bad Boy” at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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