Louisiana Book News by Cheré Dastugue Coen

Published Sundays in The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette and Monroe News Star of Monroe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ghost stories and rum, oh my! Haunted presentation Thursday at Vermilionville in Lafayette

            It’s that time of year, when the sun’s descent toward the horizon produces shadows long and sinewy. And if you follow the old Celtic calendar, and the origins of Halloween, the veil between living and dead grows thin.
            Or maybe we just need an excuse to be scared.
            I’ll be telling ghost stories from my book Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Vermilionville for the presentation “Ghosts Along the Bayou.” And if that’s not enticing enough, Donner-Peltier Distillery of Thibodaux will be handing out samples — to adults — of their Rougarou rum. Come out and hear about Lafayette’s haunted spots.
                         Looking for some more haunted suggestions to keep you up at night?
             Sarah Bartlett travels the world for ghost tales, vampire myths, UFO sightings, sacred spots and more in National Geographic’s “Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places.” There’s well-known sites such as Machu Picchu, Stonehenge and Area 51 but lesser-known odd places to pique your interest, such as the astronomical Ocmulgee in Macon, Georgia, the more than 30 labyrinths of Zayatsky Island or the Manchester, Vermont, church where a dead woman’s organs were burned in the hopes of releasing her husband’s current ill wife from a vampire’s grip. Closer to home are sites such as Marie Leveau’s tomb, the Myrtles Plantation and the cursed town of Frenier, outside New Orleans. Spotlighting 250 sites, the book offers a great trip around the world for lovers of the mysterious and the unexplained.
            Travel writer Kathleen Walls, a native of New Orleans, takes readers on a road trip with “Hosts With Ghosts: Haunted Historic Hotels in the Southeast.” In addition to well-researched ghost tales at numerous inns and hotels, Walls offers a travel guide to the areas mentioned, plus a handy resource list. It’s the perfect addition to a southeastern road trip ghost tour.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Festival of Words presents evening of oral history, poetry

            The Festival of Words presents an evening of oral history and poetry with Julia Key and Julia B. Levine at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in the Grand Coteau Ballroom, 162 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Grand Coteau.
            Key is a Grand Coteau native and co-author of  the article, “History of St. Peter Claver School.” She attended the School for Colored Children at Sacred Heart and St. Peter Claver Elementary, serving as valedictorian in the first graduating class of St. Peter Claver High School. Key will discuss her life as a student and teacher in these historic institutions from which many town leaders graduated. Her presentation will be videotaped and archived at the Center for Louisiana Studies in the Grand Coteau Voices collection.
            Levine has won numerous awards for her work, including the 2003 Tampa Review Prize for her collection, “Ask,” the 1998 Anhinga Poetry Prize and bronze medal from Foreword magazine for her first collection, “Practicing for Heaven,” as well as a Discovery/The Nation award. Her latest poetry collection, “Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight,” inaugurated the Barataria Poetry Series for LSU Press in  2014.  She received a PhD in clinical psychology from UC Berkeley, and lives and works in Davis, California.
            Participants may bring their own poems, songs or stories for the open mic and snacks or drinks to share. This free, community event is suitable for all ages and is sponsored by The Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective. For more information, call Patrice Melnick at (337) 254-9695 or festivalwords@gmail.com

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Louisiana Book Festival this Saturday in Baton Rouge

            I’ll also be in fabulous company when I sign my latest book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History” at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in the State Capitol of Baton Rouge for the annual Louisiana Book Festival. The event brings together a wealth of literary greats, children’s activities, special events, live music and more — and it’s all free. Don’t miss it.
            Here are a few others who will be discussing and signing their books at Saturday’s Louisiana Book Festival:
            Darrell Bourque, author of “Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie” and “if you abandon me, comment je vas faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook,” served as Louisiana poet laureate from 2007 to 2008 and 2009 to 2011. He is on the boards of the Ernest J. Gaines Center, Festival of Words and NUNU Arts and Culture Collective, and he is a founding member of Narrative 4 of Chicago. He will receive the Louisiana Writer Award at 10 a.m., followed by “A Conversation with Darrell Bourque” at noon.
            Charles M. Blow of Louisiana, the New York Times’ visual op-ed columnist, has written a memoir titled “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” which travels back to his youth and his examination of race, poverty and the abuse he suffered. Blow is also a CNN commentator, and has appeared on many news stations. He will be speaking at 3 p.m.
            Best-selling author Gary Krist looks at New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century in “Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans,” relaying stories of sin and violence stretching from 1890 to 1920, when reform efforts transformed the city’s more decadent nature. Krist, the award-winning author of “City of Scoundrels” and “The White Cascade,” will appear at 12:15 p.m. at Saturday’s festival and at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
Ernest Gaines
            The University Press of Mississippi has published two books on the tenuous relationship between oil companies and environmental activists and the media. “Hydrocarbon Hucksters: Lessons from Louisiana on Oil, Politics, and Environmental Justice” by Ernest Zebrowski and Mariah Zebrowski Leach pits the industry’s long-running prosperous presence in Louisiana with the state’s low rank in education, public services and the environmental and asks why the state suffers such ills under great profits. “Oil and Water: Media Lessons from Hurricane Katrina and The Deepwater Horizon Disaster,” by coauthors LSU Dean Andrea Miller, Tulane doctoral candidate Shearon Roberts and Western Kentucky assistant professor Victoria LaPoe, studies the double whammy of Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and crisis journalism. Miller, also author of “News Evolution or Revolution? The Future of Print Journalism in the Digital Age,” will speak at 10:30 a.m. and Zebrowski will speak at 3:30 p.m. at the Louisiana Book Festival.
            Tulane law professor Olive A. Houck recounts six decades exploring America’s rivers, creeks and swamps in “Downstream Toward Home” by LSU Press. The travelogue leads readers down more than 32 rivers where Houck provides observations that range from footprints of red wolves to an aqueous forest of cypress trees. Houck has received two National Educational Press Association awards for children’s literature and was most recently honored by the Environmental Section of the American Bar Association with its Distinguished Achievement Award. He will be speaking at 3:15 p.m.
            And award-winning, best-selling author Ernest J. Gaines will speak on his works, his life and his career at the festival as well as at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Moody Hall, Room 103.

Author Dinner
            Rheta Grimsley Johnson, columnist and author of “Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana,” will be the guest author of the Lafayette Public Library’s annual Author Dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Petroleum Club in Lafayette. Johnson has written for several regional newspapers and is a member of the Scripps Howard Newspapers Editorial Hall of Fame. She has lived and worked in the South all of her career and now lives part-time in Henderson. Her books include “Hank Hung the Moon” and “Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming.” Admission is $25 and includes a social and buffet dinner. Tickets must be purchased by noon Tuesday; call Bobbie at 984-8661. Johnson will sell and sign her books following the presentation.

NaNoWriMo
            This weird combination of letters stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is November for all your hardy souls willing to take on writing a novel within one month. The object is to get writing , to make yourself put words on paper and finish a 50,000-word novel by Nov. 30. If you want to know more, the NaNoWriMo Kickoff Event will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the South Regional Library Meeting Room in Lafayette. Refreshments and information on the worldwide writing challenge will be available at this event, plus group write-ins are scheduled throughout Lafayette Parish in November. For information on the library events, call 981-1028. For more information on National Novel Writing Month or to sign up, visit nanowrimo.org.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chris Segura, Michael Martin discuss 'History of Cajun Music' at Jeanerette Museum

     The Jeanerette Bicentennial Museum presents “A Journey through the History of Cajun Music” at 6 p.m. tonight at the Jeanerette Museum located at 500 E. Main St. in Jeanerette.
      The event will incorporate archival recordings from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Center for Louisiana Studies’ Archive of Cajun and Creole Folklore and include a live performance. Chris Segura and Michael Martin will discuss the history of Cajun music from the earliest examples to the most recent innovations. 
      Segura is an archivist at UL and is a founding member of Grammy-nominated Feufollet as well as a member of the Lafayette Rhythm Devils. He has recorded 10 albums with his two bands, plus produced five albums composed of archive material for Festivals Acadiens et Creoles. 
      Martin is director of the Center for Louisiana Studies and holds the Cheryl Courrégé Burguières/Board of Regents Professorship in History at UL. His publications include “Russell Long: A Life in Politics,” “Louisiana Legacies: Readings in the History of the Pelican State” (as co-editor), “Louisiana Beyond Black and White: Recent Interpretations of Twentieth-Century Race and Race Relations” (as editor) and “Historic Lafayette.” Martin is managing editor of the journal “Louisiana History,” published quarterly by the Louisiana Historical Association 

       The event is free at the Jeanerette Museum, 500 E. Main St. in Jeanerette. For more information, visit JeaneretteMuseum.com.


Nov. 1's Louisiana Book Festival to provide programs, author events for children and teens

            The Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, Nov. 1, will offer programs for children and teens at the Young Readers Pavilion and the Teen HQ. 
            The Young Readers Pavilion will host children’s authors such as Whitney Stewart, author of “A Catfish Tale: A Bayou Story of the Fisherman and His Wife,” which was chosen to represent Louisiana at the National Book Festival and John Grandits, winner of the 2014 Young Readers’ Choice Award for his book “Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the School Bus.”
            Temporary tattoos, storytelling and book-related crafts and activities will also be offered in the Pavilion. Storybook characters Mittens, Lyle the Crocodile, Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Snow White from Grimm’s Fairy Tales will be available for pictures and autographs.
            In a related note, Cokie Roberts, author of “Founding Mothers: Remembering theLadies,” highlighting the women patriots of the American Revolution for ages 7-12, will speak at 10 a.m. in the Senate Chamber.
            Brain Quest will bring its curriculum-based question and answer game to life with Brain Quest Challenges throughout the day. Children ages 5 to 12 are encouraged to play and compete individually or as a team. All participants receive giveaways while they last and official challenge participation certificates.
            Teen HQ will feature author presentations, crafts, trivia, raffles and a scavenger hunt for teenagers. Kendare Blake will receive the 2014 Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Honor Book award for “Anna Dressed in Blood.” Jennifer Anne Moses, author of “Tales from My Closet,” and Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, author of “13th Sign,” will be among the many young adult authors at this year’s Book Festival.
              The festival will be held inside and on the grounds of the Louisiana State Capitol, the Louisiana State Library and the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge.

            For more information or to sign up to volunteer visit LouisianaBookFestival.org. Also look for festival updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ann Dobie's new book 'Remembering Lafayette,' plus more historical new releases

            Ann B. Dobie, professor emerita of English at UL-Lafayette, has published a slice of Lafayette history in “Remembering Lafayette: 1930-1955.” The book covers the pre-war and war years, development of education and the university, local businesses such as Heymann’s department store, entertainment and making a living, to name only a few of her topics. She chose this period because of the town’s growth and “transformation,” caused by post-war prosperity and oil development.
            “‘Remembering Lafayette’ tells the stories of those changes, stories of how people lived and worked and had fun as the small Cajun town grew into one of the largest and most affluent cities in the state,” Dobie writes in the book’s introduction.
            The book contains memories of long-time residents, numerous photographs and a foreword by Mayor Joey Durel and is available at Champagne’s Grocery in the Oil Center, Vermilionville and Little Veron’s grocery store.

New releases
            The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival announced the publication of “Luxury, Inequity & Yellow Fever: Living Legacies and the Story of Old New Orleans” by photographer and New Orleans native Kerri McCaffety, released by their sponsor, the Hermann-Grima and Gallier historic houses. The book pairs 152 pages of photographs of both homes’ parlors and bedrooms with historical accounts, giving insight into antebellum New Orleans — a time of wealth, romance, slavery, hurricanes and disease. The book is available at the Exchange Shop at the Hermann-Grima House, independent area bookstores and Barnes & Noble. For more information, visit http://www.hgghh.org.
            Two books on New Orleans by Pelican Publishing include “New Orleans Hurricanes From the Start” by David F. Bastian and Nicholas J. Meis, a look at the Crescent City’s long history of storms and lessons learned, and “Hell and High Water: The Battle to Save the Daily New Orleans Times-Picayune” by Rebecca Theim, a former staff writer.
            Carol Mills-Nichols discovered in 1999 that she was Jewish and has been studying Jewish families of the Gulf South for the past 15 years. She follows up “The Forgotten Jews of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana” with “Louisiana’s Jewish Immigrants from the Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France.” The book includes biographies of 638 immigrants to Louisiana who left from places in the Bas-Rhin, Alsace region of France. The book is available online and through the publisher, Janaway Publishing, Inc.
            In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, The Historic New Orleans Collection is releasing a book chronicling the history of an independent troop of cavalrymen from New Orleans titled “A Fine Body of Men: The Orleans Light Horse, Louisiana Cavalry, 1861–1865” by Donald Peter Moriarty. The author follows the Orleans Light Horse from its organization in February 1861 through its March 1862 muster into active service with the Confederate States Army to the war’s end in 1865. As the escort company to Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk and later Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart, the Orleans Light Horse was an integral part of the Army of Mississippi and the Army of Tennessee. 
             O’Neil de Noux of New Orleans has published “The French Detective,” a novel that takes place in 1900 New Orleans in which a young Sicilian-American boy is kidnapped and the crime offers no leads. NOPD Detective Jacques Dugas is pitted against a crime boss and a terrifying henchman and hindered by lingering animosity between police and Sicilians along with violent confrontations between police and black citizens as the dreaded Jim Crow Laws go into effect. The book is available from Amazon.com.

Bridge to Publication
            The Bayou Writers Group will host its annual conference Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Safe Harbor center of the University United Methodist Church, 3501 Patrick St. in Lake Charles. Titled “A Bridge to Publication,” the conference will address topics ranging from what social media can do for writers to the author-publisher relationship. Attendees will also have the chance to pitch their works to editors and agents and attend a special Q&A panel on what writers need to know after they have been published. Poetry and fiction written by the Bayou Writers Group will be available in “Gator Bites” on site and participants will have the opportunity to compete or vote in the “Best First Page Contest.” For more information and to register, visit http://bayouwritersgroup.com.

Cajun music history
            The Jeanerette Bicentennial Museum presents “A Journey through the History of Cajun Music” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, incorporating archival recordings from UL’s Center for Louisiana Studies’ Archive of Cajun and Creole Folklore and including a live performance. Chris Segura and Michael Martin will discuss the history of Cajun music from the earliest examples to the most recent innovations. 
            Segura is an archivist at UL and founding member of the Grammy-nominated Feu Follet as well as a member of the Lafayette Rhythm Devils. He has recorded 10 albums with his two bands, plus produced five albums composed of archive material for Festivals Acadiens et Créoles.
            Martin is director of the Center for Louisiana Studies and holds the Cheryl Courrégé Burguières/Board of Regents Professorship in History at UL. His publications include “Russell Long: A Life in Politics,” “Louisiana Legacies: Readings in the History of the Pelican State” (as co-editor), “Louisiana Beyond Black and White: Recent Interpretations of Twentieth-Century Race and Race Relations” (as editor) and “Historic Lafayette.” Martin is managing editor of the journal “Louisiana History,” published quarterly by the Louisiana Historical Association.
            The event is free at the Jeanerette Museum, 500 E. Main St. in Jeanerette. For more information, visit JeaneretteMuseum.com.

Book events
            Michael Rubin will be signing copies of his novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse,” from noon to 2 p.m. at the LSU Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge. The signing time may change according to the kickoff of the LSU v. Ole Miss game.
            Poetry Slam and open mic by UL’s Powerful Poets begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Black’s Café, 518 S Pierce St. Cost is $5. For information, contact PoeticSoul337@gmail.com.
            Ben Wynne will be speaking and signing “In Tune: Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers,and the Roots of American Music” from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lorelei Books, 1103 S. Washington St. in Vicksburg and at 5 p.m. Friday at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Miss.
            There will be a book discussion of “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at South Regional Library. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the movie by the same name, Dr. Matthew Teutsch, interim director of the Ernest J. Gaines Center, will lead a discussion about Gaines’ most popular novel and its cultural significance.
            James Wade will be speaking on his new book, The Pitot House:A Landmark on Bayou St. John," at the Louisiana Landmarks Society event from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave. in Metairie.
             James Nolan signs “You Don’t Know Me: New and Selected Stories” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
            Andi Eaton signs copies of “New Orleans Style” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Costco in New Orleans.
            Addie K. Martin and Jeremy Martin sign copies of “Southeast Louisiana Food: A Seasoned Tradition” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Maple Street Books in New Orleans and at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the French Food Festival.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Recent booksigning brought together amazing authors

Celeste
and Matthew Goodwin
            Booksignings are not my favorite thing to do.
            I love meeting readers, bookstores remain the ideal place to sit and relax (don't you love being surrounded by books?) and I always indulge in those delicious caffeinated drinks.
            But for those of us who are more introverted, hawking books to strangers can be intimidating.
            Recently, I was part of an “Author Expo” at the Lafayette (Louisiana) Barnes & Noble so I enjoyed company. And what impressive company it was!
Ed Reed, left,
and Dianne Alexander, right,
            University of Louisiana at Lafayette history professor Michael Martin, who heads up the Center for Louisiana Studies, was signing “Russell Long: A Life in Politics” next to Alan Gautreaux, author of “Italian Louisiana: History, Heritage and Tradition,” a fascinating look at one of the largest ethnic groups of the Big Easy.
            Edward Reed has just released his insightful memoir, “I Remember When” and Donna McGee Onebane had her family and friends on hand for her launch of “The House the Sugarcane Built: The Louisiana Burguieres.”
Donna McGee Onebane
with family and friends.
            Rosemary Smith has penned several children books starring an adorable lizard named Lizzy, while Dr. David J. Barczyk, a Lafayette chiropractor and CEO of All !N Wellness, hoped to spread his health gospel with “Wellness Wake Up Call.”
Chere Coen
            I had the pleasure of sitting net to Diane Alexander, the only survivor of the Derrick Todd Lee mass murders. This spiritual woman chalks up her miraculous rescue (her son arrived home in time to save her) to God in “Divine Justice: The Dianne Alexander Story.” Likewise, Celeste Goodwin recounts her son’s miraculous recovery from a tragic episode due to high blood pressure in “A Boy Back from Heaven.” Her son Matthew returned from a near-death experience with a new perspective on life and told his parents, at a very young age, what they believed to be heaven. And Angela Cortello published her inspirational book in an effort to help others, titled “Angel: The True Story of an Underserved Chance.”
             What impressive company! I take it back, I love booksignings.
             If you're in Lafayette this weekend, I'll be at the Lafayette Barnes and Noble from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, dressed in Halloween gear (I'm being brave) in honor of my "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" book and my latest titled, "Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History." Please come out and say hi.
            Note: Celeste Goodwin is the founder of the Baton Rouge based nonprofit, National Pediatric Blood Pressure Awareness Foundation, which advocates educating the need for blood pressure screening in children.