Tag Archives: mysteries

The Garden District of New Orleans

I would venture that when most people think of New Orleans, they conjure images of the French Quarter or a Mardi Gras parade or a bowl of gumbo.  However, there are a few whose minds are immediately drawn to the Garden District.  My love for the District led me to include the area in my novel, “Crescent City Lies.”

Having grown up in the Southern US, I am very familiar with antebellum mansions and lush gardens. My hometown of Aiken, South Carolina is a charming town with beautiful historic houses and another favorite city, Charleston has a plethora of quaint streets lined with spectacular homes and a stroll along the Battery is a step back in time. Yet, despite the familiarity I have with these old homes, I’ll admit to being smitten the first time I visited New Orleans’s Garden District.

Bound by Magazine Street, near the Mississippi River to the south and the famous St. Charles Street and the trolley line to the north, the Garden District is one of the most attractive neighborhoods in the country, boasting well-preserved antebellum homes and immaculate gardens. The area was designed by Barthelemy Lafron in 1382 after the Louisiana Purchase as settlement for American arrivals not anxious to mix with the European residents in the French Quarter. Wealthy from growing cotton and sugar and from the expanding shipping industry, the residents of the Garden District constructed homes in the classic Italianate, Greek Revival, and Victorian styles, contributing to the eclectic atmosphere of the area.

On my first visit to New Orleans, like most tourists, I was anxious to visit the French Quarter. I love quirky and eccentric places and things, and I wasn’t disappointed, the Quarter was all that and more. However, a city guide led to dinner at The Commander’s Palace and intrigued by the neighborhood, we returned the next day.

Despite the early morning hour, the humidity was rising, resting on exposed skin, the air thick with the fragrance of flowers drifting on the soft breeze.  After driving around for a bit, we parked and walked along Prytania Street. Enormous ancient oaks loomed above the sidewalk keeping the secrets of hundreds of years standing as guardians in the District. Quaint clapboard houses of all sizes line the streets, some stately, others whimsical, painted in non-traditional colors. Ornate wrought iron is present everywhere in some fashion, a fence, a railing, a gate often enclosing pristine gardens.

Across the street from The Commander’s Palace restaurant sits the historic Lafayette Cemetery #1. Exceptionally maintained, the cemetery along with the entire Garden District has been commemorated in numerous books, films, and photography.

In my first novel, “Crescent City Lies,” my protagonist inherits her great-aunt’s Garden District home and two pivotal scenes in the novel take place in the cemetery.  The lushness, beauty, and charm of the Garden District inspired me, I hope it will inspire you.

If you have not visited New Orleans do so soon. Take a stroll through the Garden District. Word is you might see Anne Rice working in her garden.

Check out these sites:

The Commander’s Palace

http://www.commanderspalace.com/

Lafayette Cemetery #1

http://www.saveourcemeteries.org/lafayette-cemetery-no-1/

Source: http://www.neworleanscvb.com/visit/neighborhoods/garden-district/

(Photo: One of my favorite houses in the Garden District.  Source: Google Earth)

 

olivias-house

Advertisements

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!!!!

muffuletta-sammies-square-3

Book Covers

The most effective way to entice a reader to read your book is a killer blurb. The question is how do you grab the reader’s attention so they take the time to read it? The best way is by creating a great cover to catch their eye.

I’ve been playing around with Photoshop for several years, so I have this (insane) belief that I can create my own cover.

Delusional, perhaps. Cheaper, definitely.

So I followed the advice of several helpful book cover design sites located through Google and did the following:

• Chose an image that reflects a scene from the story.
• Used only quality images using free-use photos so there are no copyright infringements.
• Title large and easy to read.
• Fonts: No more than two. No comic sans or Papyrus. Did not use all-capital letters, italics, stylized letters. The font is legible.
• Garish colors often turn a reader away according to the tips. I used subtle colors to soothe the eye and allow the title to stand out.
• Followed the guidelines for cover dimensions posted by the publishing platform.

(There was another tip – always use a professional to create a book cover. I ignored that one.)

Crescent City Lies is set in New Orleans and two pivotal scenes take place in a cemetery in the Garden District of the city. I chose to use the iconic tombs from the cemetery to not only represent part of the story but also as symbols of New Orleans.

A side note:

I think book covers are incredibly subjective. It would be a rare cover that garnered universal praise. Personally, I detest the ripped shirt, bare chests images of the male hero of a romance novel. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against bare-chested males. I like them. I do have issues with the notion that there is a standard which must be followed for certain genres, primarily romance. While the argument that the formalistic image makes a romance novel easily recognized is valid, just once I’d like to see a less dramatic, predictable cover.

Well – off the soapbox and on to my attempt at a cover. My cover still needs a bit of tweaking, spacing and the like and as you notice, the area where the blurb should go is still empty. I hate writing blurbs.

I would love your opinion of the cover.

ccl-template-4-small-1-copy

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~

*** 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!

 

CCL FB Banner

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

Short Story: Empty

2015-08-31-bw-beacham

Empty

“The cemetery spread along the area known as Devils Abode. Once sitting on the outskirts of town, the graves now surrounded by the encroaching neighborhoods.

Detective Winston March watched as grave diggers’ slung dirt away from the increasingly larger hole housing the community’s most notorious serial killer, Sid Wade. Three days before, Wade’s sister burst into his office claiming she saw her brother standing outside her house.

He wouldn’t have believed her except for the fact four killings bearing Wade’s signature just occurred in the community. March believed the killings were copycat murders, but Wade’s sister’s obvious fear prompted him to think otherwise. She begged him to disinter her brother, convinced he was alive.

March sensed her shivers as they stood beside the coffin, loath to admit his own apprehension. Her screams filled his ears when the ME opened the plain wooden box, and March’s heart seemingly dropped to his feet. The coffin was empty. 

Word Count: 145

divider_03

mondays-finish-the-story Written for the wonderful writing challenge, Mondays Finish the Story. Each Monday, Barbara Beacham posts a picture prompt, along with the first line of the story. The stories must be between 100-150 words and must include the given first line, shown in italics in the story.

Special thanks to Barbara Beacham for sharing her excellent photography skills to provide such challenging prompts. Check out the MFTS blog… some great short stories posted.  https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/ 

Direct link to this week’s stories… http://new.inlinkz.com/view.php?id=558821