Category Archives: Southern US

Crescent City Lies Location: Jackson Square, New Orleans

The setting for my novel, Crescent City Lies is the enticing city of New Orleans. Let’s look at another location that plays a prominent role in the story.

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Jackson Square 

Jazz, bars, street performers, and tourists may be the soul of the French Quarter, but its heart is the beautiful Jackson Square. On any given day, revelers, tourists, locals, a wedding or two, and art, glorious art fill the Square. I chose the location to be a backdrop for a pivotal scene in my novel, Crescent City Lies. A scene which increases the danger for Emeline Drake as she seeks to unravel the mystery of her great-aunt’s death.

Dominated by the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, the Square faced the Mississippi River and was once known as the Place d’Armes was a public square, an open-air market, and a military parade ground at its inception.  The governor’s mansion, the Cabildo sat on the northwest corner beside the cathedral and the presence of the seat of government and the center of religion made the Square the epicenter of New Orleans life, business, and commerce.

In 1814 the Square underwent a redesign, an iron fence enclosed the perimeter and benches added for sitting. A bronze statue of General Andrew Jackson, hero of New Orleans became the square’s centerpiece. In 1815, the name “Jackson Square” officially replaced the former “Place d’Armes.”

In addition to the historical landmarks, an open-air artist colony has thrived outside the iron gates for over a half-century. Go have your portrait made, sit a spell on a bench with a drink or an ice cream and bask in the beauty that is the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Remember the motto of this city that revels in the joy of living. Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll!

Oh –  and be on the lookout, you might spot Emeline Drake and some of her fellow characters from “Crescent City Lies” strolling through the Square.

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Source Material: http://www.experienceneworleans.com/jackson-square.html

Thanksgiving in New Orleans…

My upcoming novel Crescent City Lies may not be set during the New Orleans holiday season, but it’s a sure bet Emeline Drake and her fellow characters would be celebrating Thanksgiving, Cajun style.

In a city that celebrates food every day of the year, Thanksgiving is revered in New Orleans. In fact, the infamous turducken was popularized by the late and legendary chef, Paul Prudhomme. While I admit, the turkey stuffed with duck and chicken is not my favorite, it certainly embodies the creativity and eccentricity of the Crescent City.

Many of the holiday foods we consider traditional are served on a Cajun dinner table with a unique spin. When I lived in Miami, I had the pleasure of having dinner at the home of a transplanted Cajun. I was served deep-fried turkey, all the trimmings, along with the best dressing I have ever eaten.

My friend didn’t share the family Cajun Dirty Rice dressing recipe, despite my pleas. However, Camellia Bean company offers this recipe, using their Dirty Rice mix. You can certainly make your own dirty rice as the base.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the day!

For the rest of you, share a bit of Cajun Dirty Rice dressing with us!

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Rice Dressing

This is an easy way to customize the Cajun Dirty Rice Mix with just a few simple additions. Not only is it delicious dressing for your Thanksgiving turkey, the fact that it only takes 25 minutes means it works for busy weeknight dinners – with plenty of left-overs for the rest of the week!

Ingredients:

1 package Camellia Brand Cajun Dirty Rice Mix
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 cup prepared “trinity” seasoning mix (onions, celery, and green peppers)
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
2 bay leaves
4 1/2 cups low-salt beef broth
Sliced green onions to garnish

Preparation:

  1. In a large heavy pot, brown ground beef and pork, breaking into very small
  2. Remove meat, and add flour to drippings, stirring constantly, until mixture is a deep brown roux. Return meat to pot.
  3. Add broth, Cajun Dirty Rice Mix, trinity, thyme, and bay leaves, stirring well to combine.
  4. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Let stand for 5 minutes, stir, and top with chopped green onion garnish.

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Crescent City Lies is scheduled for publication in Fall 2016.

Camellia Beans: http://www.camelliabrand.com/dirty-rice-or-rice-dressing/

Location, Location, Location

I’m often asked what is so appealing to me about New Orleans and why do I set so many of my stories in New Orleans or Louisiana, Cresent City Lies being one. After all, I’m from South Carolina, a beautiful state with its own vibrant culture and uniqueness. It also has faults as do all places, but we’ll dwell on the positive for now.

When deciding on a setting for a story, I seem to be drawn to the flavor of Louisiana. Nothing like the sultry summer heat in the south, where life slows down, and the humidity rises. The spicy aromas and comforting palate of Cajun food and the smooth sounds of New Orleans jazz are alluring and set a mood that seems to touch my writer’s passion. Wicked antagonists, flawed heroes, and enticing strong women seem to belong in the bayou or the French Quarter.

In reality, I love the beach. Ribbons of sand lapped by waves, air tangy with salt, majestic pelicans soaring against a cornflower blue sky. My heart lies on the shore, rejuvenated by the sun’s heat. My soul rests in the bayou.

At the moment, however, I live in a beautiful place called Spann Hill in southern Kentucky. As you can see from the image below, one taken from the front porch, not a bad place to be. At least, there is water nearby, even has a dock on the huge pond.

I suppose we choose where we want our stories to unfold for lots of reasons. My thoughts always seem to be on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the Battery in Charleston, or an Atlantic beach in Florida. All locations to stir the imagination. Let those places you love spur your stories.

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Look for my first novel, Crescent City Lies, to be published in Fall, 2016.

The Muffuletta!

** The Muffuletta **

Have you ever eaten a Muffuletta sandwich? If not, then you’ve likely never visited New Orleans. There is nothing more unique or tasty in the Crescent City.

Emeline Drake, the main character in my novel, “Crescent City Lies,” gets a hankering for one of these delicious sandwiches. A hankering that reopens her past and changes her life.

Yes, the sandwich is that good.

A friend who lives in New Orleans regaled the story of the Muffuletta during a visit. The sandwich was created by the owner of Central Grocery, an Italian market located in the French Quarter. The origin of the name is unclear. It may have been named for a customer or for the baker who created the round Italian bread (the unbelievably delicious bread) used.

There are many places in New Orleans to find this iconic sandwich, but none beat the Central Grocery.

(http://www.centralgrocerynola.com/)

While Central Grocery does mail order, it can be pricey. From the blog “GumboPages,” here is a recipe shared with the blogger by New Orlean’s cook and cookbook author Chiqui Collier. The olive salad recipe is a closely guarded secret by Central Grocery, but this recipe according to Collier comes from the creation of the original muffuletta.

From Collier: “The recipe for the olive salad is the exact way it was given to me. It makes over a gallon, but since your comments indicate that you love it, I’m sure you won’t want to cut it down. It stores very well in the refrigerator for many months and makes great gifts along with the recipe for the sandwich. It does appear in my cookbook, “Cookery N’Orleans Style.”

The Muffuletta

For the olive salad:

• 1-gallon large pimento stuffed green olives, slightly crushed and well drained
• 1-quart jar pickled cauliflower, drained and sliced
• 2 small jars capers, drained
• 1 whole stalk celery, sliced diagonally
• 4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
• 1 small jar celery seeds
• 1 small jar oregano
• 1 large head fresh garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 jar pepperoncini, drained (small salad peppers) left whole
• 1 pound large Greek black olives
• 1 jar cocktail onions, drained

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pot and mix well. Place in a large jar and cover with 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Crisco oil. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Allow to marinate for at least 24 hours before using.

For the sandwich:

• 1 round loaf Italian bread
• 1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced
• 1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced
• 1 cup olive salad with oil

Split a muffuletta loaf or a loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on the bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Cut in quarters. Enjoy!

Serves four timid dieters, two hearty New Orleanians or one incredible maiale.

http://www.gumbopages.com/food/samwiches/muff.html

Enjoy!!!!

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Some Sunday Jazz…

A lazy late summer Sunday afternoon is just asking for some real New Orleans jazz. The city is synonymous with the tones of a sultry saxophone, the tinkling of piano keys and the driving tempo from a bass or drums. No matter the variety of the sound from Dixieland, or smooth, to Zydeco jazz music flavors New Orleans as much as a bowl of spicy gumbo.

A fictitious French Quarter bar, the St. Honoré’s Bar and Grill, located on the famed Bourbon Street plays a pivotal role in my novel “Crescent City Lies.” The protagonist, Emeline Drake, stops in for the bar’s infamous muffuletta sandwiches (apologies to the Central Grocery which does have the best!) and stumbles into a past she had put behind her. The bar is also known as a favorite of locals who love jazz.

Take a step into the world of jazz with this video consisting of music from te 2015 New Orleans jazz festival.

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Published on Aug 14, 2015

New Orleans and New Orleans Jazz – best of New Orleans jazz music for New Orleans jazz festival 2015 and New Orleans jazz fest 2015. This New Orleans jazz band and New Orleans jazz & heritage festival 2015 playlist is composed and recorded by jazz musician David Lewis Luong.

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*** Coming Soon*** Crescent City Lies

I’m excited, my first novel Crescent City Lies is currently being edited. A romantic suspense, it’s the story of a woman who inherits a home and art gallery in New Orleans from her great-aunt, only to discover her aunt may have been murdered.  Stay tuned for more on the book and a prequel to introduce the main character.

With publishing is just around the corner and I thought it would be fun to document the journey.  I know the publishing process can be frustrating and daunting for a lot of people. Hopefully, by posting the trials and tribulations of publishing through Amazon Kindle, I can help take some of the mystery out of the process.

Hope you will join me in my journey to publication!

 

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Hello!!!

2016. I had expected this year to start off in a different way. However, John Lennon once wrote something about life is what happens when you make plans.  Sadness and illness now behind me, I think it’s time I returned to what I love – writing.

I am making plans to published my first book this summer, Crescent City Lies, and relocate to the sunny coast in Charleston, SC or to the Crescent City, New Orleans.  My head tells me one thing, but my heart – my heart tells me the French Quarter is calling. Regardless of where I go there will be water involved.

Attached is a mockup of the cover of my novel. I’ll be posting more about it, along with a prequel to the story over the next weeks.

I am also an administrator for a writing group, Writer’s Unite! and also conduct a writing workshop called Writers Unite! Workshop, both located on Facebook.  If you are interested in writing, come join us!

Writing has proven to be one of the most rewarding pursuits I’ve done in my life. I hope to share the joys of writing with you in the ensuing months and I promise to be attentive to The Coastal Quill!

Here’s is to the remaining six months of 2016! It’s not over yet!!!

Deborah…

Crescent City Lies Test 2