From Both Sides Now...

I have had the most interesting opportunity to see the other side of bookselling  these past few weeks.  As I previously told you,  we recently started our own publishing company, Feliciana Publishing Partners, and published our first book.  Suddenly,  I found  myself calling and visiting other bookstores to ask them to carry the book and to host book signing events with our author, Ronnie Virgets.  

This has been so eye opening.  In my previous experience when authors and publishers reps have approached me I thought about it from the bookseller prospective.  Did I think I could draw a sizeable crowd?  How would we build interest in the book and the author with our patrons? Quite frankly, what was in it for me?   And then I would spend time advertising the event through our newsletter, facebook page, the newspaper , our website and anywhere else we can think of to spread the word. Then when the author arrived, I was a nervous wreck thinking I might embarrass myself by not getting a respectable crowd. 

Now flip the script and I am on the other side of the glass arriving with the author after having spread the word via our newsletter, website, facebook page,  etc and I still find myself  getting terribly nervous  worrying about drawing a respectable crowd so as not to embarrass myself and my author in front of the bookseller.

All of which begs the question: whose responsibility is the success of a good book event anyway?  And I submit to you I believe the answer is BOTH.  The bookstore knows the local area and has local contact lists who will want to know about upcoming events. The writer may have a national following and there may be people on his ( her )  friends lists who live in the area but until now (and particularly with a newer bookstore)  do not even know your bookstore is  there! When bookstores, authors and publishers partner together everyone benefits.

Its fabulous that I have had this opportunity to see both sides of this equation so early in my bookselling career.  …. Or maybe all of this can be boiled down to the simple fact that I am going to feel guilty and responsible regardless of what I do in life or what side of the fence I am standing on.  Call it catholic guilt, call it a stress disorder, call it just being a worrywart, call it whatever you like. I choose  to see this as an opportunity to learn and assume that all booksellers and publishers feel the same way. I have just been lucky enough to , in the words of Joni Mitchell get the chance to look at clouds from both sides now!

So many books, so little time!

So many books, so little time.  Do you ever feel like that?  This past weekend I attended the Southern Independent Book Sellers Association’s annual conference and trade show.  There were over 50 authors in attendance to tell us about their new and upcoming books, and representatives from just about every publishing house also attended to pitch the books of authors that couldn’t be there (again with the “So Little Time” part) .  And then they all want to give you advanced copies of the books so that you can read them, fall in love with them and order them before they are released – you know so that we will inevitably fall in love with the book and tell everyone who walks into the shop about it.  Only now there are 57 new adult fiction and non-fiction books spread out over my dining room table awaiting their placement in my TBR (To Be Read) list.  Ok, so far I have read One, only 56 more to go! 


Now don’t get me wrong, someone handing me 57 not even yet released books to read is by no means a hardship – actually it is a bit of a dream come true, but also rather over whelming and intimidating.   How will I ever read them all?  What if I miss one and it is the big hit of the season?  What if I love one and no one else does?  Where do I even begin, alphabetically, by release date, by genre ? Decisions, decision! 


The first one I read was a mystery about an agoraphobic woman who loves old noir films.  I chose it because he was on a panel with our friend Michael Rubin’s whose new mystery Cashed Out has just been released.  (Oh, I already read Cashed out so that’s 2 read!)   As you would expect from Mr. Rubin “Cashed Out” was a fast paced thriller with lots of twists and turns.  It stars a failed lawyer, his ex-wife, a toxic waste entrepreneur and almost $ 4.5 million dollars in cold hard cash.   If you enjoyed his first novel “The Cotton Crest Curse” you will definitely enjoy this one, and if you did not enjoy Michael’s award winning first novel it is probably because you haven’t read it (we can help you fix that). 

Next up?  I think we will stick with mysteries and go with Laura Lippman’s upcoming Sunburn.  I’ll let you know what I think. 

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me, or are there certain words and phrases that just make you smile when you hear them used in conversation or on the news even (imagine the news making you smile these days!) , or read those words or phrases in a book?

For me it all started with any mention of July 3.  July 3rd is arguably the best day of the year.  It is the exact mid-point of the year, in most years it actually has it’s own name (aphelion: the point of orbit where the earth is farthest from the sun ), and it is my birthday.  But I digress.  So hearing July 3rd in a song or reading it in a book has always made me happy .

Other words and phrases that make me happy are when people honestly use the word Serendipity  in their everyday lexicon (Serendipity has been my favorite word since the third grade when it was the title of my English class textbook reader). 

Of course, another favorite word is Conundrum.  I swear I hear and see it used more and more.  I think it is on used on the news at least twice a week (puzzling times we live in ) , and I seem to see it used in nearly every book I pick up.  It is even the name of a great book of literary puzzles and a heck of a wine!

And finally it is words and names of home that make me happy when I run across them in my reading.  Well this week, I hit a home run on this front.  I was reading C.H. Lawler’s new book “Living Among the Dead” and on PAGE ONE  I see that the main character lives on Prytania Street in New Orleans – I LIVE ON PRYTANIA STREET IN NEW ORLEANS!   Then I get to page 41 and I read “At the river across from Bayou Sara, I stopped and pondered the town”.  I KNOW THAT TOWN!   The main character leaves the area for some time and many pages later  on  page 212 I read “My path headed north , up into a place called the Felicianas.” And then a few pages later on page 222 “We had just followed another dead-end trail, one that lead us to the river at Bayou Sara”.  And all the while the book is flashing back and forth to the narrator who is writing  the tale from his bed as an old man, you guessed it on Prytania Street.    Since my real life is spent continually travelling between Prytania Street in New Orleans and the Felicianas you can bet I enjoyed seeing it through someone else’s eyes as I read the book.

And guess what? Dr. Lawler will be joining us to sign his books this Saturday starting at 5pm during Polos and Pearls, so we will get to ask him the inspiration for this and his other books “The Saints of Lost Things” and “The Memory of Time”. 

So , is it just me ?  Or are there words and phrases that make you happy too?

Introducing Feliciana Publishing Partners !

First it was “Let’s open a bookstore”  , and that has gone pretty well so then I said “I know, we should start our own Children’s Book Festival, and that was more of a success than we dreamed it would be in our first year.  So what’s next you may ask ?  Well our own publishing imprint of course! 

Introducing Feliciana Publishing Partners, LLC !   And in early September we will launch the first book published by our new entity. 

So why start this new publishing company?  According to Forbes the first rule of developing a successful new business is to identify a need in your community and in our first year and a half in the bookselling business we saw a need for a Publisher who would truly partner with their authors to make the books they publish a success. 

With that in mind this new publishing partnership was established based on a belief that to have commercially and critically successful books requires the publisher to partner with the author.  It must select only those books with which the publisher can realistically assist the author. This involves carefully curating the books it selects for publishing; partnering the author with the right editor to make sure the book has both the author's voice and rigorous , helpful editing;  selection of the right printer so that the if one chooses the book by its cover, the author's book is selected; the right strategy and implementation of that strategy is used to publicize the book;  and every reasonable step that can be taken, is taken to actually sell the book producing a reasonable return for both the author and publisher.

Our first book will bring together the two towns we call home by publishing a collection of essays and articles written by New Orleanian Ronnie Virgets.  Not only is this book stories of New Orleans published by Feliciana Publishing but like us Ronnie also now divides his time between New Orleans and our little slice of heaven north of Baton Rouge.  In Ronnie’s case it is New Roads, in ours it is St Francisville,  but in both we have found a perfect balance to the crazy go-go life style of New Orleans in our laid back “country” life. 

Feliciana Publishing Partners will release this first book in early September and we hope you will join us to celebrate the launch of this new venture and a fabulous new book.  Details on the launch will be coming soon so stay tuned and watch for your next newsletter for more information. 


Hello Summer

Welcome to summer in south Louisiana.  It’s hot, it rains, it’s steamy , it’s humid but it is also fabulously relaxed , the seafood is abundant and (knock on wood) the air conditioner works just fine! 

So what do you do when it is just too hot to move and there is no way you will even consider (either due to rain or heat or humidity or a combination there of) going outside?  Well you read a book of course , and there are a ton of new releases out there just waiting for you to pick them up. 

Here is a list of some of our recent favorites are :

1.       Camino Island by John Grisham.  Not your usual John Grisham novel.  This one is set in an Independent Bookstore in South Florida and the only lawyer to show up in it has a very small part and does not arrive until very late in the book. 

2.       Blackout by Marc Elsberg.  Fast, tense thriller about what would happen if someone were to hack into the power grids worldwide. 

3.       Bayou Sara Used to Be by Anne Butler and Helen Williams.  The history of this region is so rich and it is always good to learn more about where we live.  This fascinating book replete with photos will bring this region of our community and history into focus.

4.       Ollie’s Odessey by William Joyce.  This is a beautiful story about a boy and his favorite toy.  About “Favorites” in general and about Big Adventures.  Absolutely destined to be a classic.  Target age 7-11 (but I really liked it and I’m 49!)

Wow, What A Whirlwind !

Wow, what a whirlwind!  My last email was sent out on May 1 and you will not believe everything that has happened since then. 

In the first week of May we hosted The Inaugural West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival.  The weather was beautiful, we had a fabulous group of authors, illustrators and story tellers as well as wonderful community volunteers that all pulled together to make the event a success.  I can hardly wait until Saturday May 5, 2018 when we will host our SECOND ANNUAL WEST FELICIANA CHILDREN’S BOOK FESTIVAL .   To see pictures and news articles from the event and to stay up to date on plans for next year’s event be sure to follow our Facebook page at .

Soon after wrapping up the children’s book festival I was able to check a whole bunch of things off of my bucket list.  It all started several years ago when my husband, who of course knows what a fan I have become of gardening and all things British, started talking about going to see the Chelsea Flower show.  We have talked about it for several years but when he floated the idea of going last year I refused because the dates of the show fall the week before The Walker Percy Weekend .  Over the course of the year I have finally come to realize that life is short and we have to grab hold of experiences like this when they are available because they may not ever come around again.  So just before Christmas time last year we made a plan and started to get things in line and I tried to come up with something I could add on as a Christmas surprise for Rob.  As luck and coincidence would have it when I looked up information on touring Highclere Castle (we are both huge Downton Abbey fans) there was a notice on the website about a special event which happened to be taking place while we would be in England.  Did you know both Jane Austen and Henry James had once lived within 10 miles of Highclere?  Well they did and in celebration of this fact Highclere was staging a “Landscapes and Literature” tour where you would tour the gardens, the house, have tea and hear a lecture on the great age of British Literature.  The lecture we attended was titled Women Behaving Badly .  It was delivered in the main hall of Highclere Castle (yes the room with the staircase and the stone pillars and arches encasing the upstairs gallery – yes, where the annual Christmas party is held in Downton Abbey!) .  The talk focused on the impropriety of the heroines in Jane Austen’s  : it was shocking that women would walk alone, speak up for themselves, basically have a backbone.  It was a fabulous day.  The flower show was Absolutely Amazing – I can’t even begin to try to describe it but if you are ever given a chance to attend TAKE IT !   And in between the two my sweet husband arranged a spontaneous Saturday for me where we went down to Nottinghill, wandered through the  Portabello Road Market and best of all paid a visit to The Nottinghill Bookshop.    But eventually we had to return to reality and home sweet home.

No sooner were we home than it was one week out from The Walker Percy Weekend.  This event is my favorite annual event in St. Francisville, it has been since the first year when I was an attendee not at all involved in the planning or staging of theweekend.  This year’s event did not disappoint – even though it rained cats and dogs!  And the best part of this year’s event was hearing people making plans to come back next year and what friends and family they were inviting to join them here in St. Francisville.  We are already underway making plans for the 2018 event which will be held June 1 – 3, 2018.  Mark your calendars and make plans to be here – you won’t want to miss our Fifth Annual Walker Percy Weekend.   Get more information on The Walker Percy Weekend at or on Facebook at :

So now it’s time to breathe, restock the shelves, play in my garden, chat with people about books and basically live the dream.  Why don’t  you come visit Buster and I at The Conundrum some day ? Tell us about what you are reading, or what you think we should be reading, or just grab a seat and visit a bit?  See you soon!



The Birth of a Book Festival

Just three short months ago I travelled to snowy Minneapolis to attend the American Bookseller’s Association’s Winter Institute.  It was my first association meeting as a newly minted Bookseller, and it was a truly transformative week.  I’ve told you all about the meeting before – met bookstore owners from round the world who shared their advice, found new vendors for the shop and met Lots of authors including Andrew McCarthy – remember?  Well, among the sessions I chose to attend was one on hosting a Children’s Book Festival.   Before the session was even over I had written emails to a couple of my favorite Children’s Book authors that said something like “I am sitting in this session about starting a Children’s Book Festival and I want to do this, I thought you might have advice on what works and what doesn’t since you have taken part in book festivals in the past.  I wonder if we can meet so I can pick your brain”.   Then in early February I arrived back in the south and early in the next week I sent off another email, this one to Glenna Fallin of the West Feliciana Parish Library.  “Glenna, can we meet I have an idea I want to talk to you about.“  the email said.  And off I went to the Library.  I told Glenna of my idea and asked if the library wanted to be involved and guess what?  They did! 

Then we put a notice out on Facebook asking if there was interest from the community, and guess what?  There was!  Before too much time passed we had our first volunteers meeting and we were off to the races.  Our fabulous volunteers designed and developed a logo , gathered loaner tents from generous community members, signed up to man tents and organize face painters and the sidewalk chalk art contest and so much more.  We simply could not have done this and particularly not so quickly without these fabulous folks.

I got busy contacting authors and publishers, Glenna got busy contacting and organizing storytellers and more presenters and everyone started spreading the word.  And the First Annual West Feliciana Children’s Book festival was born.

All told we will have more than 15 authors, illustrators and storytellers taking part in the day’s events and another 16 authors and illustrators joining us in our Author’s Corner to talk about, sign and sell their books.

In addition to this we are lucky enough to have our local cheerleaders who will be doing face painting at the park grounds, a movie presentation, a birthday celebration for the 75th birthday of The Little Golden Books (happy Birthday poky little puppy), lots of book sales including a bargain book table, and of course the much anticipated town-wide sidewalk chalk art competition. 

One week to go before our first event is in the books and we already have authors, illustrators and storytellers inquiring about participating next year!

They say it takes a Village to raise a child, I say “It takes a ‘Ville to raise a Children’s Book Festival”.  This would not happen without all the help we have had so far and the help of those signed up to volunteer next weekend both setting up tents and running the actual festival.  To all of you I want to send out a HUGE THANK YOU in advance. 

And we are not done yet.  We can still use help spreading the word.  The newspaper and blog , website and Facebook coverage has been unbelievable ( Thank you, thank you, thank you) , and this week   Glenna and I will be on the WAFB morning news.   Keep on sharing the good news and spreading the word.  We have got everything in place, now we just need a park full of children to enjoy it!  I hope to see you on Saturday May 6, 2017 !

What a Pleasant Surprise!

Early this week I was greeted by a very happy surprise.  You see I am one of those people who love to read lists and plan my travels accordingly.  Where are the best vacation spots?  Surely I should go there.  What are the best hotels in the world?  A girl like me absolutely needs to stay there.  Well what a surprise to see a list of the Top 10 Book Stores in Louisiana and to find that my little bookstore- only in business now for a bit over a year- actually made the list!  I did not even know we had been nominated.  And then to read the article accompanying our listing  and see what a nice write up they had done we are just so excited and flattered.   Now I think all of the other list lovers out there should take a grand tour of the 10 Best Bookstores in Louisiana and come by and see us!

So while our reputation grows in a state wide kind of way,  the reputation of one of our friends and favorite authors grew in major nationwide ways this week. 

Rod Dreher has written a new book called The Benedict Option.  Since it’s release less than two weeks ago Rod has appeared on national interview shows like Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News .  There have been articles all over the place including The National Review.  David Brooks has written an op-ed piece about it for The New York Times calling The Benedict Option “already the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade”, and now we have news that the book has made it’s debut this week on The New York Times Best Seller list at # 7.   And yet with all this fame Rod was kind enough to meet me and personally signbooks while he was home between stops on his book tour,  signing amidst the pollen of a south Louisiana March afternoon. Because we are the only provider of signed copies currently on the internet  we have orders coming in through our web site  from such diverse places as Texas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri and of course, Louisiana.

Congratulations and thanks to Rod, we can’t wait to see where you end up next in this whirlwind!

And finally;  in my last blog I mentioned that we are expanding our borders as we do more and more pop-up book sales at events.  Since then we had such fun selling bird and plantation books at the John James Audubon exhibit of the Audubon Pilgrimage, then we traveled a few miles east to bring The Asphodel Cookbook  and my brother-in-law’s novel The Face of his Brother  to the Jackson Assembly.  For those of you who did not  know my mother-in-law she  was very active in promoting tourism to the Feliciana’s and this year’s event  was particularly appropriate for us to make the cookbook  available as The Levy House (the building that housed her restaurant at Asphodel Village ) was on tour.  Pair that with Mark’s book being set partially in Clinton,  and as you can imagine,  we were very warmly received.  We spent the days hearing stories of Nootsie and her brood from days gone by. 

 So where will we “pop – up” next you may ask?  Well the Dave Fest of course, the annual celebration of writer  James Lee Burke’s  favorite character Dave Robicheaux which is being held this year on Saturday April 1, 2017 in New Iberia – No Fooling, ma chere, we will see you there !