New Orleans Architecture – Novel Inspiration

Walking around the French Quarter in New Orleans it’s easy to feel like you’ve stepped into another world, which is one of the many reasons it inspires my novels.  It’s a city unlike any other.  There are so many things that make the place unique, like the food and the people.  But one of the most striking things in the city is the architecture.

Here is where the history of the city really unfolds.  French and Spanish influences collide here.  Buildings surrounding you as you walk can be hundreds of years old, depending on whether or not they survived the couple of fires that swept the city early on.  Construction techniques have a lot to do with the longevity of the buildings: cypress wood, brick, and stucco sealing the brick.  Some buildings are more “cabin” looking, while others are multi-story ironwork laced mansions.  Entresols, a shorter hidden story between the bottom floor and the second floor, were often used as an attic.  But wait, aren’t attics on top?  Not in old New Orleans.  The temps would climb too high in a traditional attic and things would get ruined.  So, the entresol was a bit more insulated by the rest of the structure making it great for storage (or nefarious activities of a particular pharmacist way back).  Another feature you may notice are the porte cocheres, the larger or double doors that lead from the inner courtyard to the street.  Here’s where the carriages would go in and out, like a driveway.  Hey, they had to park them somewhere, right?  On the backside of the courtyards were often a garcionnere, a building that males over the age of 15 lived in because who really wants to be around a stinky teenage boy all the time?  (Ok, not really the reason.)  And of course, there are the galleries, the ironwork balconies that give shade to the banquettes (sidewalks) below.  We even have one funky cornstalk fence that has a sibling in the Garden District.

Below is a gallery of some of the places I loved for different reasons as I wandered.  Some were beauties, some had personality, and some needed someone to love them.  Come take a walk with me…. (I should probably state that all photos on my site are my own.)

Jackson Square
Jackson Square: Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, and the Presbytere
St. Louis Cathedral angle
St. Louis Cathedral
Jackson Square at night
At night from the window of Cafe Pontalba
Pontalba building Jackson Square French Quarter
One of the twin Pontalba Buildings that flank Jackson Square. built by the indomitable Baroness de Pontalba, Micaela Almonester, who had a lot to do with the Cabildo, cathedral, and Presbytere, too.
House that replaced Marie Leveau's on St. Ann
This house on St. Ann sits in the spot that was once occupied by Marie Laveau’s house before it burned down following her death. I guess even the house couldn’t stand to be without her.
French quarter 1
Starling Magical
Deep in the French Quarter by Voodoo Museum
Near the Voodoo Museum deep in the French Quarter
LaLaurie Mansion
The LaLaurie mansion
Next to LaLaurie House
The Mad Madame LaLaurie’s neighbors
Le Carpentier Beauregard House
Le -Carpentier Beauregard House
house on Chartres in French Quarter
Spent a lot of time up and down Chartres
courtyard through porte cocher
Courtyard as seen through the porte cochere
main house and garcionnere
Garcionnere on the left that belongs to the main house on the right
Labranche mansion French Quarter
Once known as the Labranche mansion
Cornstalk Hotel fence French Quarter
Cornstalk Hotel fence
Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street isn’t all bars. There’s some gorgeousness if you walk far enough. Fun Fact! Bourbon Street wasn’t named for the alcohol. It was named for the House of Bourbon, a French royal dynasty.
French Quarter3
French Quarter or European castle? French Quarter!
Royal Street French Quarter
Royal Street may be my favorite street. And since it was the path I took to catch the streetcar back to the Garden District, I got to spend a lot of time on Royal.

There are so many more photos I could post here, but these are some of my favorites.  I can’t wait to be back down to spend some more time with this eclectic and beautiful city!

Much love!


Crescent City Moon Launch News!

LaLaurie Mansion at nightI’m so excited to be able to share a little bit of news with y’all about the launch of Crescent City Moon!  Be on the look out for it in Spring 2019.  What else happens in the spring?  Allergies.  Right.  But more importantly, that’s Mardi Gras season!  I mean, if we’re going to celebrate something, let’s do it all at once like only NOLA can!

In the meantime, look for updates and other fun things along the way!

Blog Feature! Know What You Write

water meterIt’s been a fun week being mentioned in an interview with a best-selling author Christine Gabriel, which you can read here, and being interviewed by another best-selling author Cheri Champagne!  (See the link in the blog post here.)

Today, I had the pleasure of writing the featured blog post for Pandamoon Publishing, Know What You Write.  It’s something near and dear to my heart in several ways: writing, and New Orleans.  And, a great way to get to know me as an author!  Check it out!

New Orleans Ladies…and Gentlemen…and Everybody In-Between!

Something unexpected happened during the second half of my week in New Orleans.  Well, to be honest, a lot of unexpected things happened, but mostly because of this one thing.  Once my mom and my girls went home, I had several days on my own in the city.  I expected that it would be me quietly wandering the French Quarter or museums and having awkward solo dinners.

Not so.  Not so at all.

I discovered something remarkable about the city I adore.  Being alone in New Orleans is not alone at all.  People talked to me.  Lots of people.  Tourists who thought I was a local (well, I was once) and asked for directions or how there could be so many names on one above ground tomb, servers who didn’t want me to feel lonely at meals that are typically social times, a medium, tour guide, and a voodoo priestess…..

Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t like I was being constantly bothered and never had a moment with my own thoughts.  Not in the least.  There was plenty of that.  But I never felt isolated.  And I made some very special and very unexpected friends that I treasure.  The best souvenirs ever!

Read on to meet some of the folks, new friends and strangers alike, who made me feel at home.

Street music is at a whole other level in the French Quarter. This jazz band was killin’ it, y’all.

IMG_1347        IMG_1345

I don’t know who he is, but this man is the embodiment of New Orleans street jazz. Playing as much for himself as the passers-by. Once in a while, he’d bust out with a little singin’, too!
Second Line parades are always led by the band. This one made the rounds 5 times that day – 5 different wedding parades!
Second Line parades are tradition – for both happy occasions like weddings, or for sad occasions like jazz funerals.
Art on display and artists at work alongside buskers bring such a variety of vibrancy to the Square.
In New Orleans, we parade for all kinds of things. Sometimes we party, sometimes we rally. Either way, we’re coming together.
When you’re eating dinner at the personal table of the ghost of the owner of the house, which is now restaurant, you wave and smile at the living who are checking out the dead.
I love this picture. It’s just a couple of folks being themselves in the way that this city lets them be. Fishnet guy was owning the streets he was walking down all week. Completely comfortable in his own skin. I swear New Orleans must be where “you do you” was coined.
One new friend came in the form of a great tour guide who knows the French Quarter folks like no one else – both the living and the dead!
When you want to know about voodoo and make sure you’re doing it justice, you go to the source. And you make a great friend doing it. This lady right here encouraged and empowered me. And for that, I’m proud to call her my friend.
She brought the best breakfast I ever had (so good I had it twice) and kept that great coffee coming. Another precious new friend!
And then sometimes, you run into a friend from back home getting off the streetcar you’re getting on! Don’t tell me this isn’t a big small town.

There was one more friend who is a fabulous medium and a great encourager as well, but I was enjoying my time with her so much, I never even thought about getting a picture.  Too bad, too.  We had just done a seance and who knows who might have photo bombed that one.  It was after thinking about that missed chance that I made sure I got pictures of the other folks!

I adore the people of New Orleans and am grateful for so many who made me feel welcome and at home.  New Orleans, and especially the French Quarter, has always had my heart.  Now, I’m sure I left part of my soul there, too.  Technology has made it possible for me to continue to grow these friendships, but I can’t wait to get back down there and see them again!

New Orleans.  A city whose heart is as big as its character.

Much love!


New Orleans Spring Break Part 1 – Food

It’s hard to talk about the Crescent City and everything that makes it my favorite place on the planet in one post.  So, rather than giving you a play-by-play of my Spring Break week in New Orleans, I decided to break it down into categories.  Part one- The FOOD!

New Orleans is basically a gastric orgasm.  Food that sends you into throes of passion.  You fall in love with your plate and everything on it.  You wash the food down with drinks that will make your head spin.  Love at first bite.

Breakfast can come in any form you want, provided you want tons of flavor and calories don’t count.  My personal favorite breakfast food?  Crawfish.  Yep.  Crawfish for breakfast.  I ate it four out of the seven days I was there.  From the Bayou Bowl at The Creole House washed down with a mimosa or bacon bloody mary,

Creole House NOLA signCreole House NOLACreole House NOLA menuCreole House NOLA Bayou BowlCreole House bacon bloody MaryNola Nash Creole House mimosa

to the Bayou Benedict at Cafe Maspero (get the grits)

Cafe Maspero NOLA Bayou Benedict

with the best coffee this side of Cafe du Monde.  It doesn’t hurt that the waitstaff at both places are absolutely precious!  (You’ll meet one of them in another post.)  And that Cafe du Monde staff can handle a crowd!  Woo-wee.  And, yes, you want to wait in the infernal line for your friend dough deliciousness.

Cafe Du Monde NOLA begnietsCafe Du Monde NOLA exteriorCafe Du Monde NOLA waiting

Head down to the French Market and get some crawfish balls and jambalaya (no idea why they gave me so many forks – apparently they were thinking I should share.  Um, no),

French Market NOLA Crawfish Balls and Jambalaya

or gator on a stick.   (That’s my spunky little girl, who admittedly has a style all her own, munching that gator.)

French Market NOLA gator on a stick

Too spicy for ya?  Okay, make sure you cool those taste buds with a snowball.  Not to be confused with a snow cone.  Very different beasts.  (And my beautiful older girl with her wedding cake snowball)

French Market Nola Snowball

Feel like having some spine-tingling high-end cuisine?  Go eat at Muriel’s haunted restaurant.  If you can get a seat at Jourdan’s table, he might even join you.

Murriel's NOLA table

As a local returning home, I did have to grab a daiquiri and stroll the Quarter, but I steered clear of Pat O’s (even though it’s a fun place to go) and Bourbon Street.  Trust me, I’ve spent enough time in those places.  However, I did poke my head into Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar for a minute on my way to the Old Ursuline Convent.  Think about that sentence for a second.

Lafitte's Bar NOLA

Not in the mood for creole food (crazy person)?  Then, take the St. Charles streetcar into the Garden District for some great south of the border fare at Superior Grille, a place I spent a lot of high school and college evenings at devouring chips and salsa with my strawberry margarita.  (Drinking age in Louisiana at that time was 18.  Relax.)

Superior Grille NOLA

There are a bazillion other places to eat in New Orleans and I plan to be back soon to sample those as well, but I will definitely end up back at these favorites, too!

Stay tuned for my next post – the folks of New Orleans.  A few of the fabulous people that make the French Quarter a place I can’t wait to go back to.

~ Much love!


Little League Baseball and Spring Break Travel Plans

What a gorgeous day yesterday was! The wind was super blustery, but who cared when the sun was shining! I took my new hair-do out for a great day of little league baseball with my favorite wee boys! Nephews are the most fun! The tiny sluggers played hard and won the weekend! Way to go, boys!

Today was a lot of errand running, but I didn’t mind one bit. Why? Because I am getting ready to head back down to my beloved New Orleans!!!! So excited! Part of the visit is a big birthday spring break trip for my daughter, and then I get to stay a few extra days by myself to do a little research for the sequel to one of my novels. What’s on tap for my trip? A little late night French Quarter jazz, some haunted history, and of course some of that fabulous New Orleans food, y’all! (If you see me at Cafe du Monde for the third or fourth time in one day, just look away. Don’t judge. Wipe the powdered sugar off your shirt, and look away. ) I’ll be taking lots of pictures and hopefully will have some great stories for you. Stay tuned!

And when I get back, I get to go see my little guys and have us a serious crawfish boil! Which is a good thing to have to look forward to because it is soooo hard for me to leave New Orleans!

Y’all. This next week is going to be amaze-balls!!!! What’s your favorite thing to do in the Big Easy? What is a must-do for my trip??

Much love!