The Louisiana Book Festival.
I've been writing since I could pick up a pen. No lie. My first novel, which I wrote in middle school, involved a dorky teenage girl who teams up with a good-looking jock to solve a murder at the local high school. Never finished that book but the bug had bitten me and I was hooked.
Yes, that's me with my portable typewriter, which I took everywhere!
At first, I wanted to be a screenwriter and headed to Hollywood. After studying film and TV studies at UCLA Extension, I knew I wasn't brave enough to pitch ideas to studio executives. I got married and had a beautiful son and didn't have time to write, which rather bummed me out. And that's when I discovered romance.
I was in the line at the grocery store and there, next to Oprah and Twix, was a line of Harlequins and one of them sported a feisty journalist on assignment. Since that's my day job, I made sure no one was looking and bought the book. (Yes, I was a literary snob back then and had previously shunned "those little books.") And guess what? I couldn't put it down.
For the second time I was bitten by a literary bug so I
started writing romance and the rest, as they say,
is romantic history.
My first novel was "A Cajun Dream," which I published with
Kensington Publishing Company. The book was a finalist
for the prestigious Holt Award and the Romantic Times
Reviewers Choice Awards. It won Best Novel in the
Louisiana Federation of Press Women and came in third
"The Letter" in the Kensington anthology "Snow Angels"
followed, which received a Romantic Times four-star review.
My Acadians series launched a new line with Kensington.
The books were:
"Emilie" (RT four-star review),
"Rose" (Kensington author of the month),
"Gabrielle" (Romantic Times four-star review)
In 2017, I launched the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series featuring New Orleans ghost sleuth Viola Valentine who, because of Hurricane Katrina, now sees ghosts who have died by water. The series begins with "A Ghost of a Chance" and is followed by "Ghost Town," "Trace of a Ghost," "Ghost Trippin," "Give Up the Ghost" and the novella "The Ghost is Clear."
Since I have another life — I'm a journalist under the pen name of Cheré Dastugue Coen — I've also published several non-fiction titles: “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana” by The History Press; the cookbook travelogue “Cooking in Cajun Country” with “Cajun” Karl Breaux (2009, Gibbs Smith Publishing) and “Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets,” with Jude Bradley (2010, Llewellyn). "Magic's in the Bag" has been updated and expanded and is now an ebook at all online bookstores. To check out my non-fiction titles, click here.
Whether writing under Cherie or Cheré, I'm a native of New Orleans, where I began my career in communications at the 1984 World’s Fair. I have worked or written for Variety magazine in Hollywood, Forbes, TravelAge West, AAA, the Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, Gambit Weekly in New Orleans, DeSoto magazine of Memphis-Mississippi, City Social of Baton Rouge, numerous blogs and websites — and the list goes on. I currently work as a freelance travel and food writer, plus pen the quirky travel blog, Weird, Wacky and Wild South, and am a professional photographer. You can read more about my alter ego Cheré Dastugue Coen who works in non-fiction here.
Out to Lunch Podcast
On Jan. 29, 2020. I was a guest with fellow writer Charles Garrett on the Out to Lunch Acadiana show on KRVS of Lafayette, Louisiana. If you want to hear the podcast and hear Charles and I talk about the ins and outs of a writing life, click here.
Discover Lafayette Podcast
Jan Swift creates fascinating podcasts for Discover Lafayette, interviewing movers and shakers from South Louisiana. I was honored to be one of them recently and we had the best conversation about books, ghosts, spirituality and much more. You can listen to the podcast here.
Some of my fun book events.
Top: Me and Thor at the Baton Rouge Library's Author's Alley.
Bottom Left: The incomparable Christee Gabour Atwood — if you haven't read her books, do it now!
Right: Booksigning at 1921 Jackson Street, a Coffee House in Alexandria, Louisiana. I'm anywhere there's caffeine.
Bottom Right: At the Louisiana Book Festival.
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