Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday ebook spotlight: Leger's 'Settling for More'

Lori Leger’s third book in her Prime of Love series has been released and it’s only 99 cents.

Here’s the book description for “Settling for More:”

The fifty-something-year-old Sandra and Marshall Campion are beginning to enjoy life with no children at home. Trips to Belize...weekends at the beach house with other couples, tailgating and season passes to college football games. Their youngest, Brock, has just graduated from college and has a new fiancée. Their oldest daughter, Ella, is married to an architect and still bears an irrational grudge against her younger sister. Middle daughter, Maddie, dropped out of college at 20 and has been on a six-year trek across the U.S., taking odd jobs to earn her keep. She calls and video chats occasionally to let them know she’s alive, but they haven’t seen her in person for well over four years. 

When she arrives, unannounced, towing a four-year-old daughter they knew nothing about, the Campions are both thrilled and shocked.  Shock turns to pleasant surprise as they accustom themselves to being new grandparents to the bright, articulately advanced child. They hope to convince their daughter to settle down in their hometown, but the older-middle sibling rivalry rears its ugly head and threatens the peace and serenity of the entire family. So much so that the couple awakens one morning to find that Maddie is missing. She’s left behind two things: a note, and her child. Will she resolve her issues and come home to finish raising her daughter, or will Sandra and Marshall Campion have to start their lives over as new parents?  

Leger is an award-winning author and adores writing stories set in southwest Louisiana, where good Cajun cooking, helping your neighbors, and saying ‘y’all’ is as normal as hurricanes, heat, and humidity. She has 12 full-length novels, and five short stories published in four series: La Fleur de Love, its spin-off, Halos and Horn; Seasons of Love, Prime of Love series, and one stand-alone Christmas suspense published with The Wild Rose Press. She’s contributed to the Sweet and Savory Cookbook of Amazon Authors, published by Top Ten Press. Her fourth novel in the Halos and Horns series, “One Year to Forever,” won 2015 Romance Novel of Excellence award from InD’tale Review magazine.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ward returns with powerful generational novel

The National Book Foundation released its longlist for fiction last week for the 2017 National Book Awards and “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward, along with Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s “A Kind of Freedom” (reviewed in this column Aug. 20) made the cut. Not surprising, of course, since Ward is a past National Book Award winner for “Salvage the Bones,” a novel about a family facing a hurricane on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which is a gross simplification of the premise, but we’re limited for space.

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” also revolves around a Mississippi Coast family, told in multiple narratives: Jojo, a young boy coming of age; Leonie, his mother battling drug addiction and hallucinations of her dead brother when she is high; and Richie, the ghost of a young boy once imprisoned at Parchman Mississippi State Penitentiary. Jojo, his toddler sister, Leonie and a friend head up to Parchman to retrieve Jojo’s father, a white man who’s been serving time. Jojo’s grandfather, Pop, objects to the trip, which turns into a harrowing experience for the boy, a journey that transcends past and present when Ritchie arrives.  

The book examines this fractured family with stalwart Pop as its unifying center, exposing the ugly truths that sometimes make up an American family, but also the strengths beneath. It’s an intimate portrayal of a family grappling with both hope and despair in many aspects of their lives. Ward’s beautiful, expressive language resonates throughout the book, drawing us into her reality, allowing us to feel and witness. Reading her story is akin to listening to music, lilting and powerful at the same time.

“When we pull off the highway and onto a back road, the sky is dark blue, turning its back to us, pulling a black sheet over its shoulder,” Jojo says as they make their way through Mississippi.

The audio version of the book is available with Chris Chalk, Rutina Wesley from “Queen Sugar” and “True Blood” fame and Kelvin Harrison Jr., a New Orleans native, reading passages. The book is also a finalist for the 2017 Kirkus Prize — and I’m sure more to come.

Ward grew up in DeLisle, Miss., and received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood awards for essays, drama, and fiction. A Stegner Fellow at Stanford, from 2008-2010, she has been named the 2010-11 Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, “Where the Line Bleeds,” was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. She is currently associate professor of creative writing at Tulane.

Ward will be signing her novel Oct. 10 at Octavia Books in New Orleans.

New releases
Two Louisiana authors – Patty Friedmann and M.A. Harper – will discuss and sign copies of their new books at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. The event is free and open to the public.

Friedman is the author of “Organized Panic,” where sister is set against brother, born secular humanist against later-in-life evangelical Christian. In the end, Cesca and Ronald will have to face each other down, and each will have to try to prove the other is not above board. The manuscript took second place in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition. Friedman is the author of several novels, and she has served as writer-in-residence at Tulane University.

Harper is the author of “Things That Can Fall,” the latest novel in what she calls “Supernatural Lite.” Her character, Neil Overcash, wants Broadway stardom and stage manager Libby Papalekas wants Neil Overcash. Ramon wants to be a girl. Mickey and A.P. have no idea what they want, except each other. Welcome to Lower Manhattan, where it’s 1975 with disco barely born, AIDS yet unknown and violent crime rampant. Harper’s novels have been spotlighted via Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program, the BookSense ‘76 List, TIME magazine and the 2015 Digital Book Awards where she was named as one of five finalists for Adult Fiction.

Also at the library is two New Orleans authors: Deborah Burst, author of The Mystical Life of Trees and Ronnie Virgets, author of “Saints and Lesser Souls.” They will talk about their latest works and sign copies at 7 p.m. Thursday at the East Bank Regional Library. Burst, a self-professed ambassador of trees, will share the beauty of trees from New Orleans to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and offer anecdotes of the healing power of nature. Virgets has written for several publications and been a radio and TV personality. He’s won an Emmy, an Edward R. Murrow award, two Eclipse honors and the 2001 Press Club of New Orleans Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Lafayette Library
Matt de la Pena stops in Lafayette Thursday to talk about his children’s book, “Last Stop on Market Street.” The program will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Library Meeting Room, but come early for a special tour of a city bus. For information on the author, visit http://mattdelapena.com/.

The Digital Bookmobile National Tour is also making a stop in Lafayette, from noon to 6 p.m. Monday at the South Regional Library. Traveling coast to coast, the newly updated 42-foot-long Toterhome mobile exhibit will provide an interactive experience for readers of all ages to explore eBooks and audiobooks available at the library. A high-tech update to the traditional bookmobile, visitors can learn how to borrow digital books, stop at the Gadget Gallery to explore a variety of devices, talk with eReading experts and so much more. Tours are free and open to the community. Readers can borrow eBooks and audiobooks anytime, anywhere by visiting http://bayouland.overdrive.com.

Book news
Margaret Simon of Iberia Parish Gifted Program will be speaking at the 2017 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention in St. Louis. Simon will present as a member of the panel, “Don't Give Up on Boys! How to Nurture Boy Readers and Writers.” The NCTE is dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education.

Banned Books Week begins today and runs through Sept. 30, an annual celebration of the freedom to read. For this year’s celebration, the coalition of organizations that sponsor Banned Books Week — everyone from the American Library Association to the Center of the Book at the Library of Congress — will emphasize the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees our inherent right to read.

Book events the week of Sept. 24-30
Dr. Jeff Foret, professor of history and distinguished faculty research fellow at Lamar University, will discuss his research for his nonfiction book project from 12 to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Nichol’s State University. His book follows the story of Washington, D.C. slave trader, William H. Williams, as he moved two dozen slaves from Virginia to Louisiana. The talk is part of the school’s Ellender Memorial Library’s traveling exhibit from the Historic New Orleans Collection, “Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865.”

William Barnwell signs “Angels in the Wilderness: Young and Black in New Orleans and Beyond,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.

Former U.S. representative and Louisiana Gov. Charles “Buddy” Roemer signs copies of his new book, “Scopena: A Memoir of Home,” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Barnes and Noble Baton Rouge-Citi Place and at 1 p.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble Baton Rouge-Perkins Rowe.

Errol Laborde, Peggy Laborde and contributors to “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” will be on hand to discuss and sign the book at 6 p.m. Thursday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances and a paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NOLA ParaCon this Saturday

NOLA ParaCon, a half-day literary festival featuring one dozen local paranormal romance writers and editors, will be from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie. The festival is free and is open to the public. Registration is not required.

Paranormal romance is a subgenre of romantic fiction and speculative fiction. It includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation – frequently ghosts, vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, and time travel - blending together themes from the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror. Paranormal romances are one of the fastest growing trends in the romance genre.

NOLA ParaCon Agenda
10 a.m. - Welcome 

10:15 - 11:00 a.m. - Indie Awesome: Indie Publishing 101
Authors: Amanda Lanclos and Roux Cantrell; Moderator: Gillian Zane

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 noon - Cliches in Paranormal: Too Much, or Not Enough?
Authors: Eden Butler, Julie Wetzel and Alexandra Weis; Moderator: Lila Felix

Lunch Break 12:00 noon - 12:45 p.m.

12:45 - 1:30 p.m. - Crossing Those Wicked Genre Lines
Authors: Pamela Kopfler and Juliette Cross; Moderator: Dawn Chartier

1:45 - 2:30 p.m. - Realism in Fiction, Blending the Real with the Paranormal. Authors: Sarach Tolcser and Marita Crandle; Moderator: Alys Arden

Alys Arden lives in New Orleans. “The Casquette Girls” is her first novel. Alys Arden was raised by the street performers, tea leaf-readers and glittering drag queens of the New Orleans French Quarter. She cut her teeth on the streets of New York and has worked around the world. One dreary day in London, she missed home and started writing “The Casquette Girls.” Her debut novel garnered more than one million reads online before it was acquired by Skyscape in a two-book deal.

Eden Butler is an editor and writer of fantasy, mystery and contemporary romance novels. She is the nine-times great-granddaughter of an English pirate which she says might explain her affinity for rule-breaking and rum. When she's not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque ancestor, Eden patiently waits for her Hogwarts letter, edits, reads and spends time watching rugby, “Doctor Who” and New Orleans Saints football.

Roux Cantrell is the author of three novels in the Enforcers Series: “Guarded,” “Vowed” and “No Bounds.” “Second Chances” is expected to be published this month. She lives on the North Shore.
Dawn Chartier grew up in New Orleans where her parents owned a bookshop. She came to writing later in life. She sold her second book, a contemporary erotic romance titled “Diamonds.” She also authored “Not An Angel,” a Poryria Vampire Novel Book One, in 2012. She lives near New Orleans.

Marita Woywod Crandle has been writing and storytelling since she was a little girl. She has always had a fancy for the magical side of life, making New Orleans, with its very creative atmosphere, a perfect match for this German transplant. Marita is currently working on a novel dedicated to French Quarter legends, the Carter Brothers, and the book “Drinking Mistakes,” her memoir as a Bourbon Street bartender. Marita has also written the holiday children’s book “Rufus, the Yuletide Bat,” available at her gift store.

Juliette Cross says the moment she read Jane Eyre as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance and even then, she wanted to create her own. She has written at least a dozen novels, including “The Vessel Trilogy,” “Dominion,” “The Nightwing Series,” “Vale of Stars” series, and the “Vampire Blood” series.

Lila Felix refused to go to kindergarten after the teacher made her take a nap on the first day of school. She staged her first protest in middle school. She almost flunked out of her first semester at Pepperdine University because she was enthralled with their library and frequently was locked in it. Now her husband and three children have to put up with her rebel nature in Louisiana where her days are filled with cypress trees, crawfish, and her books and writing. She writes about the ordinary people who fall extraordinarily in wild, true love.

Pamela Kopfler was unemployed and living in the rural south. She said she took stock of her skills and thought the only one of any use was writing. She compiled the stories she’d told on the NPR member station and published “In-laws, Outlaws, Friends and Foes” with Pelican Publishing Company. Kopfler said she had so much fun writing the stories, she offered workshops on writing anecdotal stories at area conferences, club meetings and local libraries. She’s now writing novels.

Amanda Lanclos is from a small town near Baton Rouge. She is the author of at least 10 works including the “Wounded Souls” series and the “Unwavering Faith” series. She says she has always been a huge fan of books and reading, and is now doing what she always loved about other authors: she is writing to help others escape real life, just as these authors have done for her.

Sarah Tolcser lives in New Orleans, where she “wrangles iPads and rogue computers at her day job.” A graduate of St. Lawrence University, she double majored in writing and philosophy. She enjoys video games, NBA basketball, and books about girls who blow up stuff. Sarah writes young adult fantasy and science fiction. Her first book “Song of the Current” was released this past summer; Booklist said: “First-time author Tolcser has created a hearty sea adventure, laced with romance and fantasy.”

Alexandrea Weis was raised in the motion picture industry and began writing stories at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she wrote her first novel, “To My Senses.” Since that time she has published many novels.

Julie Wetzel is originally from Ohio and dreamed of a job in science, perhaps astronomy or the study of volcanoes. In 2007, she moved to Mississippi and began to write. She has written at least half a dozen paranormal romances, including the “Ancient Fire Series.” She has also embarked on a series of books titled “The Dragons of Eternity.” 

Gillian Zane is an Amazon bestselling author specializing in dark genre fiction for adults. She defines herself by the city she was raised in, New Orleans. She’s tried moving away a few times but always comes back. At the age of ten, she decided she would be a writer and has been determined ever since. She has served in the military, worked as a bartender, became a cog in the corporate marketing wheel as a person “that makes things pretty” and has been laid off too many times to count. She currently writes full-time, but still continues to “make things pretty” by designing book covers and websites for her fellow authors and bloggers.

For more information regarding this event, contact Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the library, at 504-889-8143 or wcsmith@jefferson.lib.la.us.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Ebook Spotlight: Cogburn's 'Ava's Place' and Byron's 'Body on the Bayou'

Baton Rouge author Emily Beck Cogburn has followed up her charming debut novel, “Louisiana Saves the Library,” with “Ava’s Place,” a story also set in Saint Jude, a small South Louisiana town filled with colorful people. One is newcomer Ava Olson who juggles a part-time newspaper job while raising three young children on her own, she meets Ford, a café owner and a single dad who must bring his daughter to New Orleans on weekends to share custody with his ex-wife. The two hit it off until Ava gets a call to move to the big city for a new job, not to mention an important news story.

Ava's Place is discounted to $2.99 from now until October 1!

Cogburn is a freelance journalist and fitness instructor currently living in Louisiana. She has a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree in philosophy from Ohio State University, and a master's degree in library and information science from Louisiana State University. Her interests include cooking stinky food her children hate, yelling at her class participants to do “just one more rep!” and trying to read while handling requests for more chocolate milk. She has two children, two dogs, one cat, and a very patient husband.  Read more in the Advocate and 225.

The Kindle edition of Ellen Byron’s “Body on the Bayou,” the second book in her award-winning, bestselling series, is on sale for $1.99. The book was nominated for a 2016 Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award.

Here’s the book description:
“The Crozats feared that past murders at Crozat Plantation BnB might spell the death of their beloved estate, but they've managed to survive the scandal. Now there's a très bigger story in Pelican, Louisiana: the upcoming nuptials between Maggie Crozat's nemesis, Police Chief Rufus Durand, and her co-worker, Vanessa Fleer.

When everyone else refuses the job of being Vanessa's Maid of Honor, Maggie reluctantly takes up the title and finds herself tasked with a long list of duties--the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa's cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke. But just days before the wedding, Ginger's lifeless body is found on the bayou and the Pelican PD, as well as the Crozats, have another murder mystery on their hands.

There's a gumbo-potful of suspects, including an ex-Marine with PTSD, an annoying local newspaper reporter, and Vanessa's own sparkplug of a mother. But when it looks like the investigation is zeroing in on Vanessa as the prime suspect, Maggie reluctantly adds keeping the bride-to-be out of jail to her list of Maid of Honor responsibilities in Body on the Bayou, Ellen Byron's funny and engaging follow-up to her critically acclaimed novel Plantation Shudders.”

Read Louisiana Book News’ review of the book here.

“A Cajun Christmas Killing,” the third book in Byron’s series, will be released on Oct. 10.

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