Sunday, January 7, 2018

Reading the universe, Cajun crime novels and more new Louisiana releases this week plus book events

Monroe teacher of mathematics James Robert Rogers tackles the universe in a new book, one he expanded from an article in the “Mensa Bulletin,” titled “How to Read the Universe: A Little Book About Everything.” Rogers hopes through his book and theories that readers will find the meaning of the universe that leads to enlightenment and absolute love. Much of the message is based in mathematics and, I must admit since I stopped my math education in high school, a bit over my head.

“As a young man, I once asked God to make me know — not just believe — whether He exists; even as rationally as mathematics exist,” he said. “For many years, I have been receiving the message of this little book by observing the details of the universe. Now, as an old man, I am at peace.”

Rogers is a frequent contributor of mathematics-based articles and the author of “A Uniform Approach to Rate and Ratio Problems: The Introduction of the Universal Rate Formula.”

Michael Verrett is a multi-talented prolific writer, producing a dozen books and contributing art for two dozen more! Some of the children’s books he’s completed in 2017 include “Beyond the Wall,” “No Hug For A Kaylea Bug” and “The Dinosaur Tree.” He also writes chapter books with black and white illustrations. You can find his books online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other distributors. 

Verrett is a board member with Creative Minds and a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Another writer hard at work is Karen Yochim of Arnaudville, who has written several Cajun crime novels, all available on Amazon. “Swamp” is a historical novel and the rest take place in fictional St. Beatrice Parish. Her latest is book seven in the St. Beatrice Parish crime series, “The Devil Takes Care of Its Own.”

“I have dedicated the last 20 years to living immersed in Cajun culture so I can write authentically about their great independent spirit and their resourcefulness,” Yochim wrote me.

At the Lafayette Library
Lafayette Reads Together (LRT), a community-wide reading experience from the Lafayette Public Library, the Lafayette Parish School System and many local organizations, has chosen “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander. There will be free copies of the book at city libraries starting Wednesday and several corresponding programs. “An Evening With Kwame Alexander,” in which Alexander will share a bit of conversation, a dash of storytelling and a splash of performance from his recent children’s books, will begin at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Main Lafayette Library. A book signing will follow.

Here are a few related events:
Spoken word artist, author and poetry educator Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson will offer a workshop on the art of self-expression for ages 9 and up at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Main Lafayette Library and at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the East Regional Library.

Homeschool Hangout, an afternoon of learning stations for homeschooling families revolving around different themes, will be held in January and February for ages 5–12. January’s poetry theme will begin at 2 p.m. Thursday at North Regional Library and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at the Main Library.

Faulkner Society
The Faulkner Society of New Orleans is divesting itself of Words & Music, Inc., a non-profit festival created 20 years on what would have been William Faulkner’s 100th birthday. The festival will be transferred this month to One Book One New Orleans.

In other society news, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition will begin accepting submissions on Jan. 15, with the deadline for all submissions May 1. The competition is open to anyone, anywhere writing in English, offering significant cash prizes in eight categories. For more information, visit

The Society also plans to host multi-author free literary events featuring the new work of both established and debut authors. The first such event will be March 25 in New Orleans and will feature Dr. Martha Boone, author of the debut novel, “The Big Free,” based on her experiences as a resident at the old Charity Hospital. 

ULL Humanities
UL-Lafayette professor Mary Ann Wilson will be teaching her annual Friends of the Humanities class and this year the theme is “A Cannoli is Worth a Thousand Words: Fiction, Food and Film.” Films to be shown include “Babette’s Feast” and “Heartburn,” along with food scenes from famous movies. Books will include Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” and Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”The classes will be Jan. 17, 24, 31, Feb. 7 and 21 on the ULL campus with a dinner out possibly on Feb. 22. The cost is $75 for Friends members and $100 for non-members. For more information, call Wilson at 298-0406 or email

Book events the week of Jan. 7-14
Nathaniel Rich, author of “King Zeno,” will discuss his novel with Katy Simpson Smith, author of “The Story of Land and Sea,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans. Also at the store this week is Martha B. Boone discussing and signing her book, The Big Free,” at 6 p.m. Friday.

Peter J. Marina presents and signs his new book, “Down and Out in New Orleans,” with photographer Todd Norman at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Marina is associate professor of sociology at University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and the author of “Chasing Religion in the Caribbean: Ethnographic Journeys from Antigua to Trinidad.”

Just in time for the Oscars is Linda Thurman speaking of her new book “Hollywood South: Glamour, Gumbo and Greed” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. Thurman will discuss the film industry, movies made in Louisiana, and the corruption scandal that occurred in 2009.

The North Louisiana Storytellers and Authors of Romance meets Saturday at the Bossier Library History Center, 2206 Beckett St., in Bossier City. Kimberly Lang will speak on the writing process. For information, visit

Mary Webber signs “Miracles Still Happen…Trust Me,” a story about a young African American woman overcoming life tragedies, at noon Sunday, Jan. 14, at Barnes & Noble Citiplace in Baton Rouge.

Chere Coen is the author of several Louisiana non-fiction books and the Viola Valentine Louisiana paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at