Wednesday, October 21, 2015


By Debby Giusti

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Let the good times roll, as they say in New Orleans, Louisiana, known as NOLA. Some months ago, my husband and I signed up to take an October trip to The Big Easy with a group from church. We lived in Louisiana when our children were young and visited N’awlins often, but we hadn’t been back in years. Fond memories of the history, culture, cuisine and charm of the city that I had loved then enticed me to return.
New Orleans seen from the Mississippi River.
This time I visited as a writer and saw New Orleans through different eyes. As I toured the French Quarter, dined at sidewalk cafes and enjoyed a steamboat cruise on the Mississippi, I discovered a city packed, like a treasure chest, with story fodder. New Orleans teems with life, and inspired by the sights and sounds, I came home eager to share with you what I had experienced.

ST Louis Cathedral 
Often we dream of traveling to distant lands in search of a unique setting, but stories can be found anywhere—around the corner or in neighboring state, and yes, even on church tours to places we’ve already visited. For a writer, there are #NOLIMITS on where to find inspiration. Any life experience can trigger an idea for those of us who work at creating tales that capture hearts…and New Orleans is a city that can easily capture your heart!

The people of New Orleans come from hardy stock. A mix of French, Spanish, Creole, African, Canadians, Haitians, Irish and Italians call New Orleans home. You’ll find voodoo queens, like the infamous Marie Laveau of yesteryear, to current day artists that sell their paintings along Jackson Square, to a host of Mardi Gras krewes and party revelers who fill the streets during the parades. The city welcomes all of them.

Cast iron fences are seen throughout the city.
Do a Google search to learn the amazing history of French rule, followed by the Spanish, and again the French before Napoleon sold New Orleans to the US in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. While I like doing online research, I especially enjoy getting first-hand information from docents and tour guides. For me, the bites of information I glean from them provide the seasonings, like any good cook adds to her gumbo, to flavor my the writing.

Here is some of what I learned:

Jackson Square is the center of the French Quarter and is named for Andrew Jackson. In the War of 1812, British troops, 10,000 strong, advanced on the city. Jackson and his men came to the rescue. Although outnumbered two to one, Jackson and his soldiers defeated the British and saved New Orleans.

Andrew Jackson's statue in the center of
Jackson Square.
Saint Louis Cathedral, named for the King of France, overlooks Jackson Square, dates from 1718 and is one of the two oldest cathedrals in the United States. Destroyed by fire, the cathedral has been rebuilt twice and is a favorite landmark to the predominately Catholic population of New Orleans.

In the 1840s, two block-long rows of brick structures were constructed on each side of Jackson Square in hopes of upgrading the French Quarter. Shops opened on the first floors, with sixteen apartments over the storefronts available for rent. The Pontalba Buildings are the oldest continually rented apartments in the US.
One of the two Pontalba Buildings
New Orleans was home to the largest US Mint in the South. In operation from 1838 to 1861 and again from 1879 to 1909, the mint produced both gold and silver coins.

The Higgins boats used in the Normandy Invasion on D-Day were manufactured in New Orleans. Today, a National World War II Museum honors our greatest generation and is a must-see for any WWII enthusiast.

City Park
The New Orleans City Park was established in the mid-1800s. The land was once the Allard Plantation, but was bequeathed to the city as a park for children. The park encompasses 1,300 acres and is two times larger than Central Park, in New York City.

The Natchez steam paddle
The port of New Orleans is busy, even at night. We
passed a number of ships lined up to unload their cargo.
In New Orleans, medians— the grassy strip in the middle of a road—are called neutral ground. Po-boys are similar to hoagies and come dressed, with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise. Make dodo is to go to sleep, and lagniappe is a bit of something extra, like a second scoop of ice cream or another spoonful of jambalaya, a rice dish containing meat and seafood.

When giving directions, locals don’t refer to north, south, east or west. Instead, they use the terms riverside, uptown, lakeside and downtown as points of reference.

ST Louis Cemetery

Because of the high water table, the dead are buried above ground, and family members are often interred in the same vault. A weeping willow on the tomb means a baby is buried within. Locals visit the cemeteries on All Saints Day. In the past, families would cart in cemetery furniture on which to sit as they enjoyed picnic lunches, played cards and white washed the tombs.
This vault holds the remains of many
Sisters of Mount Carmel
The old pharmacy on Chartres Street, now a museum, had large apothecary jars in the front window that signaled sailors when they docked in port. Red water in the jars warned of an outbreak, or plague, while green water signified the city was safe and sailors could come ashore.
Can you see the Romeo Hookers?
Sharp, serrated strips of metal can still be seen at the top of the iron poles used to support balconies in the French Quarter. Called Romeo hookers, the sharp attachments were strategically placed to keep young men from climbing to the second-story bedrooms where the daughters of the families lived.

This woman reads palms and Tarot cards
into the night.
In 1856, a yellow fever outbreak, spread by mosquitoes that bred in the cisterns, claimed more than 8,000 lives.

Nicknamed the “Trinity,” celery, parsley and onions are favorite seasonings used by Louisiana cooks.

Court of Two Sisters, a well-known French Quarter restaurant, was once a ribbon and rabais or notions shop.

From 1850 to the Civil War, New Orleans was the richest city in the United States due to newfound methods of producing white sugar.

Bourbon Street

Red beans and rice were commonly served on Monday’s in most homes as a way to use the leftover pork, or ham, and vegetables from Sunday’s dinner.

In 1788, a fire destroyed 856 wooden buildings in New Orleans. Six years later, 212 buildings were lost in another city-wide fire. When New Orleans rebuilt the second time, they used bricks.
New Orleans loves its jazz!

In 1884, the World’s Fair, known as the World’s Cotton Centennial, was held in New Orleans and started the tourism industry that remains an important source of revenue for the city.
Decatur Street in the heart of the
French Quarter.
Mardi Gras is celebrated from the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The standard colors used in floats and costumes are purple, green and gold and symbolize justice, faith and power in that order.

New Orleans is located 60 miles from the Gulf of Mexico as the crow flies and is a 120-mile drive by car.
Interesting shadows from a statue in the
ST Louis Cathedral Cemetery
I came home from my travels excited about what I’d learned and equally as enthused about the spirit of the people of New Orleans who have endured and thrived in a city that has faced much in its history. No one can forget Katrina and the devastation it caused. We all remember the horrific pictures of the water, rushing in from Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River that overran so much of the city. Thankfully, the French Quarter sits at a higher elevation and was not flooded, but in other areas, the water wreaked havoc. The restoration and revitalization of New Orleans defies the odds, and although the people are quick to recall the ravages of the storm, they are also proud of what they’ve accomplished to rebuild their city.

As writers, we can learn from NOLA, from the city’s tenacity and determination. They didn’t let adversity stop them, even from something as dangerous as a Category 5 Hurricane named Katrina. The city and its people found the wherewithal from deep within to not only survive but to emerge triumphant. It’s the #NOLIMITS theme that we embrace in Seekerville…stay the course, don’t give up and persevere in the face of huge odds, just like the people of New Orleans.

Mules pull the carriages in the French Quarter.
I hope the overview of my trip has whet your appetite to find new settings in which to place your characters. What folklore or history have you picked up from your travels that will make a rich backdrop for your own writing? What do you look for in a setting? What areas are you eager to explore as you research your next story?

In honor of New Orleans, I’m serving a delicious meal that I enjoyed at Muriel’s on Jackson Square: Shrimp Gumbo, Shrimp and Grits served in a Cajun red sauce and Crème Brulee.
Supposedly Muriel's Restaurant has a ghost. Each night
this table is set and a glass of wine poured for their visitor.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to Café du Monde for a cup of café au lait, made with chicory, and beignets, piping hot and covered with confectioners’ sugar. Café du Monde, located between the Mississippi River and Jackson Square, has been serving beignets continuously since the Civil War. Enjoy!

Wonder how many beignets I can eat in a day?
Watching the cook make beignets.
Wonder how many they make in a day?

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for PERSON OF INTEREST, the latest book in my Military Investigations series, AND a kitchen timer. To get words on the page—in true #NOLIMITS fashion, I set my timer for thirty minutes and write non-stop. When the timer dings, I break for water and a quick stretch, before I set the timer again. I’ll also give away a pretty journal and a string of Mardi Gras beads.

Happy Writing and Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti

While babysitting a young servicewoman’s infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can’t be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting  Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed…

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.

Also available: A HEART FULL OF CHRISTMAS, a Seeker Christmas collection found wherever you buy digital books.


  1. I loved your MIRACLE FOR CHRISTMAS, Debbie. My review has been posted. I can hardly wait for your book set in NOLA. Your post was interesting and informative! I've never been to New Orleans so it was all new to me. I'd love to win Person of Interest. Thank you

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  3. Oooh, this brings me right back! I loved N'Awlins the four times I've been there (once for a whole month). My time in Louisiana has really helped with researching my Cane River Romance series, based in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It's centered around a vintage bookstore, the Creole community, their faith, culture, food, and language. The first book's title "The Pepper in the Gumbo", was a saying I heard the first time I toured NOLA when I was seventeen. An old man said his wife "sure put the pepper in the gumbo", which meant to liven up the place. I thought it was the funniest saying and it stuck with me all these years.
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures! Already ordered the boxed set and can't wait to read it!

  4. P.S. The latest in my series, A Star To Steer By, is set in a bakery. Of course they make beignets and serve Beau Monde coffee! And as for how much, I'm sure NOLA is bigger but I asked a friend of mine who has family in Cane River. The next time she visited, she asked the owner of a small bakery for me. The woman told her that they served about a hundred a day, but when the crawfish festival is on, or the zydeco music festival is happening, they run the fryers all day and serve almost a thousand from 5AM to 10PM. That's a LOT of beignets!

  5. Oh, now I'm craving beignets ... =)

    Debbie, I'm on an overload of New Orleans information! =P But thanks for sharing your experience (and all the photos)!

  6. Thank you for your 'tour' of New Orleans Debbie. That is one city I have always wanted to visit as I know it is rich in history. I appreciate all the pictures you added too!

    Happy Birthday Seekerville! May everyone have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  7. I loved all of the pictures thank you.

  8. I've never been to NOLA, but thanks to you, I feel like I made a quick trip. I appreciate you sharing your photos and some history of NOLA, Debbie.
    I like how they refer to point of reference as riverside, uptown, lakeside and downtown.
    Thanks for sharing your writing technique...I plan to give it a try.

  9. Okay, I thought maybe you were doing a post on the NOLA chapter of RWA, of course I had NO idea what NOLA meant. Terrific post.

    Now I am STARVING!!

  10. I love your post! I visited New Orleans when I was in Junior high.

    It was an amazing experience, and your post brought it all bacl.thank you!

  11. Marianne, so glad you enjoyed A Miracle for Chrisrmas! Thank you for posting a review!!! I know they take time and effort, and I greatly appreciate the support.

    I enjoyed visiting New Orleans again and am eager to include what I learned in a future story. Glad you liked the picks and info!

  12. Virginia, how fun to set a series in Nachitoches. I was recently thinking of my visit there, but you've brought it to mind even more. Must have been November or December when I was where. Christmas figures in lights decorated the river banks. I ate meat pies...something else too. Were Moon Pies first made there? Can't remember, but a fun place to visit.

    I can hear your character talking about "the pepper in the gumbo!" Love that Cajun accent!

  13. Artist...hope it's a good overload! :)

  14. Cindy, thanks for the birthday wishes! Hope you visit New Orleans someday! I plan to go back. :)

  15. Mary, glad you liked the pictures.

  16. WOW, Debby! What an awesome time in New Orleans! I've only been to New Orleans once--when I was in grade school and my Texas grandparents were living in Louisiana for a while due to my grandpa's job. So I have photos and "memories" but the memories are, of course, from a kid's viewpoint. I'd LOVE to visit there as an adult! Thank you for sharing! (And I look forward to reading any of your stories that will be set there!)

  17. Hi Jill,

    I should have mentioned my Alpha Smart too! It moves me along as the timer ticks. Spent yesterday on the blog. Need to get back to pages today.

    Tick, tick, tick...

  18. Have a beignet, Tina. Bet you can't eat just one! :)

  19. Marsha,
    Glad you enjoyed the city. Hope you can return again someday!

  20. Hi Glynna, wouldn't it be fun if one of the writing conferences would be held there! We could tour, do research for future stories and learn good stuff at the conference! Sounds like a win-win to me!

  21. Debby, thank you for this fabulous tour of NOLA! The pictures bring it alive. I attended a RWA conference there but didn't see much of the city. Your post makes me want to go back.

    Are you planning to use this setting in a book? I'm sure the creative juices are flowing.

    I loved Person of Interest!


  22. Debby,

    Thank you for sharing your pictures!

    Yes, a germ of story idea can be picked up anywhere and combined with another idea from a visit to a different city, museum, seminar, meeting, history book. Well, you get the idea!

  23. Debby, I love seeing pictures of places I have never been. I enjoyed the history that you included with each picture. Brought them more to life. Have a good week :).

  24. I love to visit cemeteries and would love to spend time in this one. But I've never partied there. The people of New Orleans know how to party.


  25. Janet, I do have an idea for a NOLA story. I had a dry time for a bit with new ideas, so I'm enjoying the current flow of inspiration that I hope continues.

    Thanks for your mention of Person of interest! Looking forward to your JAN release!!!

  26. Hi Rose! Experiencing life helps me be more creative. At least that's my excuse for traveling! :)

  27. Glad you liked the info, Kelly! The coffee's hot. May I pour you a cup?

  28. Janet, Bourbon Street seemed a bit more subdued this visit...which is a good thing, IMHO!

  29. Debby, thanks for this great post! I loved the history and photos of New Orleans. Your comment about directions: When giving directions, locals don’t refer to north, south, east or west. Instead, they use the terms riverside, uptown, lakeside and downtown as points of reference, reminded me of how the people back home give directions: Take a left at the fork in the road, turn right at the tree (which is now a stump since it was hit by lightning), pass the red barn (which of course is no longer red because it's been painted green since then, but still keeps it's name), once you reach the rock shaped like a gourd you have arrived lol.

    I got to travel in April to places I had never been. My nephew was graduating from basic training in Oklahoma, so my mom, step-dad, and my sister, and I drove out there from Virginia. We stopped at each welcome sign when we entered a different state so I could take a picture. It was so much fun! It's so flat out there lol.

    Debby, I would love to be entered to win a copy of your book Person of Interest!

  30. I've never been to New Orleans, but I'd bet I'd love it. It's not even that long of a drive for me.
    Making beignets continually since the Civil War? That is so cool.

    The last year or so has really been busy and it seems all I do is rush, rush, rush. You make me want to slow down and travel.

    Thanks Debby. (And I can't wait for Person of Interest to come out.)

  31. A cup of cafe au lait and beignets sound like a delicious start to the morning! I visited NOLA for the first time 4 years ago and this post takes me straight back. The city is timeless and leaves a lasting impression. I've lost count of how many times I've seen Cafe Du Monde and Bourbon Street in books or as the setting on tv shows and movies!

  32. I loved this overview about N'Awlins. I've never visited, but after reading your facts and seeing your pictures, I definitely want to! I enjoyed reading the history of the city, as well. There's so much I don't know about NOLA. :)

    When you shared some of the pidgin, it reminded me of Hawaii. Many of the locals speak pidgin and have different takes on common English words.

    My boys loved looking at your beautiful pictures, Debby!

  33. Debby, If you attended a costumed ball, you'd have been the Belle of the Ball with that mask and your sweet smile!


  34. Hi Debby - what a fun post! I love New Orleans and would love to go back for a return visit. Please enter me in the drawings.

  35. New Orleans has always fascinated me. Never been there, but from what I've read and heard it is like no other place in the U.S. or maybe world. Debby, thank you for making it live for us.
    Kathy Bailey

  36. I am dying to see New Orleans. The history alone is worth any expense, and I just want to visit and absorb, no conference, or anything to interfere with me and sightseeing! Debby, you have now refueled this fire inside me!

    When I read the Andrew Jackson part I remembered this song my older brother used to sing all the time "The Battle of New Orleans"

    That's going back a bunch of years, but my brother is fifteen years older than me and I used to love hearing him sing!

    Deb, this is a dream trip! I'm going to pester Dave because I need a history road trip.

  37. Beignets.... my friend Lisa brought me a mix from New Orleans a few years back, and I made beignets.

    Oh my stars, Deb, they were so good! A fun puffed donut type treat, but different, too!

    We had fun with them, and a delicious snack for the kids while exploring what the deep South is like.

    When is the best time to visit? I'm not big on bugs and crazy heat, I'm a whiner when the humidity is high and the bugs sing low and long....

    What would you suggest?

  38. So love this! I honeymooned in NOLA and have been back several times. One of the few places that attaches itself to you (and not just the calories from the food-lol!) after reading this I have several vacation story ideas...hmm.

  39. Thanks for the fun glimpse into a different setting with rich food for a writer's imagination. Although, any setting has history and uniques spots to explore if we dig a little deeper.

    I'm with you on the kitchen timer for focused writing sprints ... And the Alpha Smart you mentioned. My fingers seem to fly faster on that keyboard as I stare off into the distance rather than at my laptop screen. I've also found that pictures of my hero and heroine or setting locations are great focus points when writing fast.

  40. Such an interesting blog, Debby.
    Romeo Hookers?

    Wow, I love this. It sparks so many story ideas. None of which include cowboys of course. Though Louis Lamour had one of his cowboys go to New Orleans, so it could happen!!!!!


  41. Hi Debby What a great tour of New Orleans. Hubby and I won a free ticket in 2002 to any US city from Southwest Airlines so we chose New Orleans since we had never been there. Hubby's brother had a conference so we went in March and met him and toured all those places you showed us.

    While there we booked the steamboat cruise up the Mississippi and learned about all the history along the river. And that inspired me to write Current of Love published by Montlake.

    So now Miss Debby are we going to see a suspense novel set in New Orleans? I hope so.

  42. Mary You are tooooo funny. Of course our cowboy can go to New Orleans and meet his heroine who doesn't want to leave the city and go out in the boonies. Oh my. I can hear your mind working clear across the Rockies.

  43. Hi, Debbie!! I have a question that reading all the details of NOLA brought to mind. How do you research locations in the past i.e. 1970's Colorado? I've found statistical data and some government white papers but nothing that gives me the 'street view' of life.

    Thanks in advance!


  44. I can eat a lot of beignets from Cafe du Monde (maybe even all day if I have the time), as long as it comes with their cafe au lait!

  45. Hi Debby:

    What a wonderful trip down memory lane. I spent two months in NOLA in the '70s opening a furniture store. Then some time later I got married and the company owner let us use his French Quarter condominium for our honeymoon. We never needed a car. We could walk anywhere in minutes.

    The Café du Monde was open 24 hours a day and it was the cheapest place to eat any time we were hungry. Public pay phones were everywhere and the price was set at just 5 cents a call. (The lowest in the nation.)

    Pete Fountain and Al Hirt were playing at local clubs. Some of the best musicians in the world played for free at Preservation Hall. People walked around drinking tall Hurricanes on the street. We had the best pizza we ever had in the French Quarter.

    New Orleans is for lovers! You can spend a whole week in the French Quarter and never feel the need for a car. We had our portrait done together in Jackson Square and two German ladies were having the best time commenting on the artist's progress. I decided to have some fun with them since I had my hair combed like a very famous German. The next time the artist said something to me, I said, "That's fine, just don't make me look like Hitler!" The women laughed so hard they almost fell off their park bench.

    Of course, we took a paddle boat up and down the river. Not a good idea in August -- both temperature and humidity were 100. It was a terrible four hours! We ate at the Court of Two Sisters and The Commander's Club and I had to try the "Cherries Jubilee". Those cherries seemed to be the size of plums! There were not what we called cherries in New York!

    It's said that you can't go home but with New Orleans, I think you can. We had a tour guide who had such a strong Brooklyn accent, I aksed him what part of Brooklyn he came from. He said, "A lot of people comment on that but we have an accent here that is similar to the one in Brooklyn." I believed him at the time, because he could speak French, but now, years later, I wonder if he was just, "me fais marcher," -- pulling my leg!

    As for settings: I like a setting that many people would love to visit and learn more about. It also has to be a setting without which the story could not have happened. If the story could happen anywhere or in any time period, then it is missing a full dimension of reality and can't seem fully real to a reader -- in my estimation.

    I have your book, so please enter me into the Mardi Gras beads contest. I never got my beads!


  46. Just Commonly, that's the boxed mix my friend bought/brought me! SO GOOOOD!!!!!

    You know what I love? Is how an idea from one thing, then merges with a visual from something else, and a what if from a Bible passage, and all of a sudden, you have a plot in your head.

    From so many random corners, comes sense.

    Either that, or that's why I must do REVISIONS!!!!! :)

  47. Debby, I love New Orleans! We have only visited there once, but I can't wait to go back! Can you believe we didn't go to Café du Monde? Not on purpose believe me!

    Person of Intrest sounds great! Please enter me.

  48. Sally, did you go to Fort Sill? My son was stationed there. Cross country trips can be so much fun. We're blessed in the US to have such a beautiful country. Glad you had a good trip.

    Love your local directions. They need to be in a book!

    You're in the drawing. Hugs!

  49. Connie, taking time to prime our inspirational well is important...even if it is for a few hours. That's my advice to you today. Grab some time to relax and refresh!!!

  50. Margaret, you're so right. New Orleans is timeless! Hope my blog brought back good memories!

  51. HELLO DEBBY! It's been years since I've visited NOLA. I sure do miss Cafe' du Monde. NOLA is a fascinating city! Glad you enjoyed yourself.

  52. Jeanne, have you set a story in Hawaii? You should! Glad you and the boys liked the pics. :)

  53. Loves to Read, I'm ready to go back too!

  54. Kathy B, I love finding those unique settings within the US. We have quite a few in the South. Charleston, Savannah and Saint Augustine come to mind.

  55. Ruthy, October was perfect. The spring would be nice too. I wouldn't go during the big Mardi Gras period close to Ash Wed. I hear it gets quite wild then.

    Bugs? There are no bugs in the South! Ha, ha, ha!

  56. Loved all your NO pix, Debby! What a fun trip! Cities like NO can definitely be goldmines of writerly inspiration. That's one reason I have loved our regular visits to Hot Springs, Arkansas. So much history there!

  57. Jeanette, so glad the blog inspired you. :)

    Laughing at the attached food...I need to exercise off a few of those yummy beignets I ate. :)

  58. Any fans of NCIS: NOLA? That's become one of our favorite TV shows.

    Well, Scott Bakula helps. ;)

  59. Candee, thanks for the tip about using pictures to speed the writing. I'll try it!

  60. Mary, you could do a NOLA cowboy! Might create a new genre.

  61. DEBBY, yes, we went to Ft Sill. We drove there one way and then dipped down to hit those states on the way back. It was a lot of sitting and riding, but it was so much fun to see states and things I'd never seen before and probably won't again.

  62. -Off Topic Alert- but a good one!!!

    My favorite Debbie Gusti story...
    I showed my mom the new Deb Gusti book "Holiday Defenders" I had just gotten in the mail (thank you!), & she immediately Stole it - I mean "Borrowed" it.

    Ten minutes later, I'm in another room & hear, "This lady can WRITE!!!"

    Then I'm walking into the room doing HER laundry & she says, "I can't help right now. These people are trapped in a cave and...!!!!"

    A few minutes after that..."Listen to this sentence...(she reads a sentence)..That Debby Giusti can put more in a sentence than anyone I know!"

    I would consider that High Praise!!! :)

  63. I'm all about shrimp and grits and beignets! You've made me hungry for lunch already, Debby. :)

    Thanks for sharing your great photos! I feel as if I've been there again with all your descriptions. NO was my very first RWA conference and I really enjoyed seeing the city for the first time.

  64. Sorry! Spelled your name wrong in that 1st sentence!

  65. Oh, JANA, that's such a cute story about your mom!

  66. Sally, that sounds like a fun trip!!

  67. Mary, I'm already picturing one of your cowboys hung up on the Romeo Hook. LOL

  68. Oh, Debby, this was a fun virtual tour.....recalling fond foodie memories. My parents took me to NOLA twice. I remember lunch at Court of Two Sisters, which you mentioned, and breakfast at Brennan's. Good to see those restaurants are still there. I must go feast and to see the apothecary jars warning the sailors and the shadow showing Jesus' outstretched arms.

    My husband is especially interested in history, so we often visit museums in small towns. Even tiny local museums have some unique tidbit for a story idea.

    I have your Person of Interest, so please don't enter my name. And yes, Gabriel was perfect in the Christmas collection.

    Thanks for your post which does make me want to visit again....and for providing the selection of local cuisine......I'll just take a second beignet as I go. :)

  69. I did enjoy learning about New Orleans.. beautiful & interesting pictures.
    Toss me in please, I'd enjoy reading another of your books :)
    How did you know I need a new timer.. I hate being teased about burning my
    boiled eggs ! ! LOL ~ yep, time for a new one :)

  70. Wow! I've never been to New Orleans, DEBBY, but story ideas starting popping with a docent as the heroine and a treacherous hunt for the bad guy in a cemetery.

    Loved Person of Interest so no need to throw my name in the dog bowl, but I absolutely adore new journals.

    And MYRA, I'm with you! NCIS NO is one of my new favorite shows. :)

  71. Great recap of your trip, Debby. And, NCIS NO kinda grows on you. I've watched it a few times with my friend in the nursing home, and the first couple of times, one of the guys with the Southern accent seemed to be overdoing his accent a bit. He is from the South, but still, it just sounded OFF.

    Either I've gotten used to it, or they've toned it down just a bit. lol

  72. It is! It is! Your NOLA is what NOLA means to me, Debby! Thank you for bringing it right to my computer screen. Can you tell New Orleans is one of my all-time favorite cities? It is full to the brim with stories and story ideas, plus the energy of the place is ... well, unlimited. I never heard about the Romeo Hooks. What a hoot!

    I just returned from researching a town and visiting two of its museums. Wish I could write as quickly as the story ideas come alive.

    Thanks for this quick trip to NOLA, and for the reminder about perseverance. Don't enter me in the drawing for PERSON OF INTEREST. It's already on my iPad :-)

    Nancy C

  73. Hi again, Never did think the beignets were tasty. Rather blah. But the rest of the food we had there was to die for. I fell in love with all the ways to make bread pudding. And jambalaya and gumbo. Oh my. I'm getting hungry.

  74. I'm with you Myra NCIS/NOLA is fun and Scott Bakula is wonderful. sigh

  75. Jana Love the story about your mom reading "your" book by Debby. Too funny.

  76. Sandra, I thought about your story while I was in New Orleans. An overnight river cruise sounds fun. How long was yours?

  77. Debby, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful research with us! I feel as if I just took a trip to NOLA. Your descriptions and attention to so many great details make me want to visit myself. It's certainly given me something to think when choosing the setting for my next book. I loved Person of Interest. I would love to win a timer or the mardi gras beads :) Thanks for being here today!

  78. Debby,

    What a fun tour of New Orleans...special places, yummy food and fascinating history all in one blog post!! This is one city on my bucket list...but not during Madri Gras!! Great photos too!

    Visiting places can provide such amazing inspiration for stories. I remember all kinds of ideas danced through my mind when we visited Williamsburg. Too many ideas, not enough time!!

    I have your book! Wonderful...loved it!! Looking forward to a book from you set in the Big Easy!!

    Have a TEA-riffic day everyone!!

  79. Hi Stephanie,
    We've had some wonderful historical authors on Seekerville who have discussed their research. I suggest you check out our archives. Since I write contemporary stories, I don't have to delve in the past...although I love learning about special settings, such as New Orleans. There are lots of interesting ways, though, that folks do uncover those details of yesteryear that make their stories shine.

    Reading old books and magazines, newspapers, talking to an historian in the area you're interested in writing about come to mind as research options. Old maps. What else? I'm sure some of those who stop by today might offer suggestions.

  80. Just Commonly...

    I agree! Love that cafe au lait!

  81. I loved your photo tour of New Orleans since the one time I was there it was a year after Hurricane Katrina and we drove through on our way to Mississippi to pick up the baby we were adopting. I was amazed and saddened by how devastated the area still was. The landscape was very different from what I'm used to :)

  82. Vince,
    Sounds like you had a perfect honeymoon! I could see everything you mentioned. They still have open drink laws, although we didn't see any rowdiness. Of course, we were never out much later than 10 PM. The artists still cluster around Jackson Square. This time, I saw quite a few twenty-somethings, with large dogs. They begged for money but looked healthy and fit. Didn't see any bag people or folks really down and out, although I'm sure they were around. Every city has the downtrodden.

    I don't think your guide was pulling your leg. Our tour guide said the same thing...that her lovely accent is often confused with a Brooklyn accent. I didn't hear the connection, but I guess some folks do. Our gal knew everything about everyone! Guess even the French Quarter is like a small town.

    Good point about the setting needing to be part of the story. As always, you're spot on!

  83. Stephanie: you wrote 1970's Colorado, did you mean 1870s Colorado? Because if you mean 1970's Colorado, you're going to make me feel old, because I grew up in Denver. The 1970's were my elementary school years (therefore I'm not responsible for the fashion stuff I wore...)

    Debby: I've always been fascinated with N'Awlins. It does indeed have a rich history. It's like a whole different country unto itself. I would love to visit someday - probably a bucket list item.

    Please put me into the draw for any of your offerings of today. They all are marvelous, as is your post. Thanks for the blog tour.

  84. Donna,

    You're in the drawing.

    We almost missed going to Cafe du Monde as well. We were kept so busy seeing everything...including a Swamp Tour that I'll write about in a future blog. So...on the last night, I insisted we grab beignets and cafe au lait, even after a huge dinner!

    Needing to stop at Cafe du Monde is a good reason to return to New Orleans. :)

  85. Caryl, hope you get to return to NOLA one of these days. It's worth seeing again.

  86. Myra, your blog post about Hot Springs makes me yearn to visit that area of Arkansas. I think of it often. How long of a drive would it be from Atlanta? Any idea?

  87. God bless your nephew, Sally, for his service. He's a hero. I know you're a proud aunt!

  88. Jana, hugs to you and your sweet Mama! Oh my gosh. I'm touched and smiling a huge grin. You've made my day! Thanks so much for sharing.

  89. Missy, I wish RWA would hold a conference in New Orleans again. The city hosts huge conferences so I'm sure they could fit us in somewhere.

    I'm used to shrimp and grits in a cheese sauce. The ones I had at Muriel's were in a Cajun red sauce and were so yummy! The grits tasted more like an orzo or rice. I want to find a recipe and make it at was that good. And gumbo! Oh my gosh, I love gumbo! Must make some soon.

  90. Missy, you've got me laughing. I'm seeing Mary's NOLA cowboy impaled on the Romeo Hooker! Ouch! :)

  91. Sherida,

    Unfortunately the apothecary jars in the Pharmacy Museum window were broken during Katrina. Interesting how the city would alert the sailors.

    As you mentioned, there's always something to learn in the small museums tucked here and there around the country. We visited our son and daughter-in-law in Leavenworth, Kansas, and found they have a Carousel Museum there. Strange, huh?

  92. DEBBY, I'm sure you'd love Hot Springs! I'm guessing about a 10-hour drive for you.

    It's been a long, long time since we visited NOLA. Had to be on a short stopover when our Caribbean cruise left from there, probably mid-1990s. Really a fun place, and so picturesque! Would love to go back when we have more time to explore.

    And maybe run into Scott Bakula! ;-D

  93. Oh Debby, bless you.
    Did you just tell me to sit down and relax today? I think I'll take your advice, right after I switch the laundry....wait no. I'll have my daughter do that.

  94. Deanna,
    You're in the drawing. I included boiling eggs in a Seekerville blog some time ago. It was an intro into the writing topic. What amazed me was learning the many different ways folks boil eggs. :)

    So, Deanna, how do you boil your eggs?

  95. Barbara, writers find inspiration everywhere, right? Even while reading blog posts. :)

    I host a writing class at my church, and at our last meeting, we brainstormed a story that took place on a Mississippi river boat headed to New Orleans. I keep thinking about the plot they came up with that could so work for a suspense tale.


    Thanks for your kind words about PERSON OF INTEREST!

  96. Pam, perhaps I need to watch TV more often! :)

    I know your friend enjoys your company, no matter what's on television!

  97. MISSY, it was! Passing the time zone change was amazing lol. When we dipped into Louisiana we stopped to eat and the guy was there that does their marketing. When we "checked in" with our phones, he was friending us on facebook lol. Then we got to talk to him. It was a lot of fun! The best part of the trip: when the soldiers went off base to eat with their families, a lot of us usually ended up at the same places. The respect these boys got from people eating in the restaurants put tears in my eyes. They would walk up to them and thank them for what they were doing or tell them their story. It was such a great feeling to be a part of that. And then to hear the stories of what happened when some didn't make it back to base on time...

    Debby, after I wrote the above, I saw your note. Thank you, Debby! Yes, a very proud aunt. There's just a feeling you get when you are around them.

  98. Nancy, sounds as if you love New Orleans as much as I do! Glad you enjoyed the info about the Romeo Hookers. I had never heard about them either. My thanks goes to JoAnne, the wonderful guide who shared so much as we toured "her" city.

    Can you share a bit about the setting you've researched, Nancy? So fun to be there and see everything for yourself. Google searches work, but touching, smelling, seeing things firsthand make the details come alive for me.

    Thanks so much for downloading PERSON OF INTEREST. Hope you enjoy the story. :)

  99. Hi Christina!

    So glad you enjoyed PERSON OF INTEREST!

    Glad you liked the blog too! I enjoyed going over all the pics and remembering what I experienced. We had wonderful weather the entire week. Warm but not hot. No rain. Plenty of sunshine.

  100. Kathryn,
    Ah, Williamsburg, another wonderful destination. So much history!!! I haven't been there in years, although I'm ready to go back. Janet was there not long ago and had a delightful visit.

    So many places to little time!

    I'm heading to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, since you mentioned it, Kathryn. May I make a cup for you? Anyone else?

    Your mention of my story made me smile. I'm smiling a lot today. Hugs! :)

  101. Heidi,
    So glad to hear about your sweet little one. A blessing from God.

    What you saw after Katrina must have been gut-wrenching. When the storm hit, I wondered if I'd ever go back to New Orleans. I wondered if they'd ever be able to rebuild.

    It warmed my heart to see the city looking so good when I returned this time. Of course, they mentioned how high the water was in various areas and how much had to be demolished before they could rebuild.

    I pray they never experience that type of a catastrophe again, and please, Lord, that none of us experience anything like it as well.

  102. DebH,

    Good catch about the date. You'd make a great copy editor! :)

    Visiting New Orleans is a good addition to any bucket list. Hope you get to visit soon.

    You're in the drawing. Hugs!

  103. Debby, I've been thinking about setting a story in Hawaii. In fact, that idea resurrected itself as I read your post today. I'm going to let that idea germinate for a bit. :)

  104. Myra, you're due for another visit to NOLA!

    Another cruise sounds fun too!

  105. Connie, I'm giving you permission to take time for yourself! Okay? :)

  106. Sally, I love how the US has embraced our military. It wasn't so in the past, as you probably know.

    I'm sure your nephew loved having you there to celebrate his success. Where is he stationed now? I pray for our military everyday, so he's in my prayers.

  107. Jeanne,

    Confirmation today! Right?

    I'm praying for your Hawaiian story. Keep me posted!

  108. What a travelogue you've created about New Orleans with both pictures and history. I have been there twice for a short visit. I plan to go to the World Mystery Bouchercon 2016 Conference next September. We always stay some extra days and take in the city sights. Your information will help make my touring plans even better. How nice for you to take the time to compose all those details and include pictures too. It is a good guide on how to write the setting in a place you know nothing about. Thanks for sharing, Debby.

  109. Suzanne,

    Tell me about Bouchercon. Do you attend every year, and if so, what are your thoughts about the event, what you learn, experience, etc? I've never gone. Sounds like a good way to get back to New Orleans, for sure!


  110. I love all those pictures! I've have't gotten to travel anywhere, so it's great to see other peoples pictures!

  111. Hi Debby,
    Really great photos and commentary. It's a great reminder that stories surround us.

    No need to put me in the drawing. I buy all your books directly from Harlequin.

    Blessings always!

  112. Debby, he is National Guard, but thinking about enlisting full-time. Once he went through basic training, he came out a different person. It was so amazing to see the transformation. He is at home since where he goes for duties is close to where he lives.

  113. Sierra, give yourself time. You'll visit lots of places in your lifetime, I feel sure. Plus, remember as Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home!"


  114. Wonderful post, sweet Debby. Thank you for sharing so many photos and bits of history and trivia for us - - fascinating!
    I visited New Orleans many years ago with my parents (we were on our way back from Colorado and stopped there for one night). Saw some lovely sights.
    So glad you had a delightful trip, and I'm curious if you tried the coffee with chicory. If so, did it taste super strong? (Being a coffee-lover I wondered about that!). ;)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

  115. Thank you, Lyndee! You're such a dear friend!

    I think often we need to find what's unique about our own local area that other folks will enjoy reading about in a story. Or find the special story that can only be set in our own local environment, as Vince mentioned earlier. A place doesn't have to be remote to be special, or to be the perfect setting for a certain story.

    But traveling does open up my mind to ideas, whether a story will be set in that new location or someplace closer to home.

  116. Sally, I'm relieved that he's not deployed! I'm also glad the experience was good for him. I do think guys mature during basic training. They're challenged physically and mentally and learn a lot about themselves and how they react to stress and new environments. Plus, they're part of a group, discipline is important and they're held to a certain standard. That all good! Being in the National Guard is admirable! I'm proud of him!

  117. Patty Jo, the chicory coffee I had was strong but good. But then, I always add sugar to my coffee. Knowing how much you like coffee, I bet you'd love it too!


  118. Debby, if you want to write another contemporary suspense, those river boats still ferry tourists up and down the Mississippi! Don't you love to brainstorm?!

  119. DEBBY!!! Girl, have you ever considered writing a fun, pocket-style book on various cities BEGINNING with New Orleans??? You are a natural, girlfriend. I found this blog utterly fascinating, especially the following points:

    "A weeping willow on the tomb means a baby is buried within." I knew that cemeteries were above ground in NOLA, but that is a bittersweet detail I did not know.

    "Romeo Hookers?" This is a hoot and a fascinating term that I never heard before, but it caught my attention immediately!

    Mmmm ... I'm craving beignets and chicory coffee right about now ... ;)


  120. Ruthy, a reader of mine went on a road trip to visit all the places in one of my books in the Cane River series and she detailed her time in a blog post.
    She said the one thing she forgot when planning the trip was THE WEATHER. She was dying. It was very hot and the historic inn the stayed at wasn't completely air conditioned, at least not enough. She was sweating the entire week, and says she'll visit at Christmas next time!
    Here's the link. It was so much fun to see all the places I'd mentioned in my book, especially a pivotal scene on a bench. :)

  121. Julie, the Romeo hookers totally made me laugh, too. I'd seen them and never knew what they were. I thought they were for burglars!

  122. Barbara, a river boat trip sounds fun. Sandra cruised before writing her book set on the Mississippi. I need a copy of her notes! :)

    Yes, I love to brainstorm. Plus, it is a great way to teach story. When folks see the overall layout they realize how all the parts work together.

  123. Cute idea, Julie, but I'll stick with suspense. :)

    I knew you would like Romeo hookers!

  124. Wow, lots of comments today. Very interesting post, Debby. I love to visit new places and enjoy cities, although I have not been to New Orleans. Whenever I visit someplace I think of ways I might use it for setting in writing. But the book I'm writing now uses the setting from my own backyard, so to speak, as it is about a tornado and Nebraska is the perfect setting.

    Signing off now. I subbed in first grade today and I am beyond exhausted.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

  125. Debby, Beautiful pictures of New Orleans. Thank you for sharing them. My husband made jambalaya for dinner tonight so the pictures definitely complemented my meal. I would love to go to New Orleans to see the historical sites and eat a beignet there.

    Thanks to you and all the Seekers for your wonderful tips on how you write. I'm finding working in shorter intervals followed by a small break is increasing my productivity.

    As far as settings in a book, I'm not picky. I like fictional small towns and real cities.

  126. I was in New Orleans once - for RWA in 2001. I'd love to go back some day. Thanks for the photos and trip down memory lane, Debby.

  127. Virginia,

    How interesting that your reader would visit all the sights in your book!

    Sounds as if she's a reader for life!

  128. Sandy,

    No wonder you're tired after subbing first grade! Sleep well!

    I think Nebraska would be an interesting setting for a story. How many books about Nebraska have you read? Fiction, that is! Folks will want to know more about your special locale.

  129. Tanya!

    What a wonderful husband...he cooks...and he fixes jambalaya? Be still my heart!

    Glad you liked the NOLA pics!

  130. HI Mary,
    I didn't attend RWA Nationals until 2005. Sorry I missed the conference in New Orleans. Hope all is well in NYC, another great city to visit and use as a setting for our stories.

  131. Debby, some of the best known books set in Nebraska are the Willa Cather books. Occasionally I will find a modern day book that mentions Nebraska.

  132. Thanks for letting me know, Sandy. I read Willa Cather in my youth. Loved her stories.

    I'm so glad you're using Nebraska in your story. A perfect setting!

  133. Debby, I haven't been to New Orleans in years! Your trip makes me want to a return visit. I love some good hot red beans and rice. I think New Orleans makes a beautiful setting for books. Please enter me in the drawings.

  134. Debby Giusti said...
    Can you share a bit about the setting you've researched, Nancy? So fun to be there and see everything for yourself. Google searches work, but touching, smelling, seeing things firsthand make the details come alive for me.

    Sorry, Debby, I just got back to Seekerville :-) My most recent in-person research was a town that sprang up almost overnight in 1881 because of the railroad. I found out so much about the men who made it happen, how they maneuvered the county seat to their town ... so many wonderful details. And yes, there is nothing quite like seeing things firsthand, getting to study room settings and note what people were reading, what children were playing with. There's nothing like feeling the roughness of of old stagecoaches, and the weight of cast iron cookware and other kitchen utensils from the time. Those women were strong! Oh, and there was an amazing handmade chocolates store in the old passenger depot. Not historical research, exactly, but very tasty research :-)

    Thanks again for sharing your pix and memories of NOLA.

    Nancy C

  135. Terri, my hubby loves red beans and rice, which I don't make. He was happy in New Orleans. :)

    You're in the drawing!

  136. Hi Debby! I really enjoyed your pictures and stories about NOLA. What a rich history! I have always wanted to visit, but haven't as of yet. Its on my bucket list. I like the idea of setting a timer. I will have to try that.

    I already bought both your book and the Christmas collection, but I always enjoy your stories. Blessings!

  137. Nancy,
    So glad you returned to Seekerville. Thanks for telling us about your research. So interesting!

    I have a few iron skillets and they are heavy. I used one as a weapon in one of my stories. It was very effective. :)

  138. Hi Debby, I was scared to go to New Orleans for years after a friend was murdered there on her honeymoon. Then my husband had a conference there and I went with him. That trip was tinted with a little sadness, but it was a beautiful city. The next trip I made to New Orleans was to watch UGA play in the Sugarbowl. We had a great trip then!

    Thanks for sharing!

  139. I loved your post! I can imagine your mind would be whirling with story fodder.

  140. Jackie, how terrible about your friend. No wonder you didn't want to visit the city.

    Glad your Sugar Bowl trip was fun. Much happier memories.

  141. Interesting. I've always wanted to visit New Orleans. Have a friend who was born and raised in Louisiana and he makes pretty good gumbo.

    Thanks for sharing your picture and the interesting tidbits.


  142. I, too, have always wanted to visit NOLA. My son was based there for 3 years when he served in the Marines, but I never had a chance to visit. Now your fascinating blog has peaked my interest again. A trip to NOLA moves to the top of the "travel list for when I retire!"

    You've sparked my creative thinking with your post! Thanks!

  143. This is such an amazing post. I love history and research. It's really fun knowing things in my own city in which not many people born and raised in that city know. Such a wonderful post, Debby!


    We're about the same age. I grew up in the 60's/70's but in TX. For some reason my character has dug her heals in to inner city Denver...go figure. I'd love to talk to you and perhaps pepper you with questions ;-P ???

    My email is:

  145. I was in New Orleans this summer for a conference. While the history and buildings were fascinating, my boss and I were overwhelmed with the lostness, especially on Bourbon Street and in the square. I found it very sad. On our last night, we ran into a group of teenagers that were on a mission trip, witnessing on the street, so we had to stop and pray for them.

  146. Loved your post, Debby - thank you!! I love just thinking about the atmosphere of New Orleans, have always wanted to tour the city. The only time I was near there, I crossed the Lake Pontchartrain bridge at night - in high wind - spent the night across it from New Orleans, with intentions of seeing the city the next morning. Unfortunately, the next morning - I found there had been a hurricane, boats were lost at sea, interstate exit ramps were flooded. I never got to see New Orleans, but am thankful I was safe.

    Please enter my name in the drawing for the giveaways!!

  147. MYRA - yes! NCIS: New Orleans is fabulous :) Scott Bakula helps a lot, but I adore New Orleans, and all these extensions of the original NCIS and JAG shows.

  148. DEBBY - I love New Orleans! I spent a glorious week and change living on the corner of Bourbon and Canal streets in the French Quarter a few years ago, and I've wanted to go back ever since.

    The French Quarter is amazing; and like Vince said, you don't really need any transportation but your feet. Unless there's a trolley handy, because those are just fun! Anyone up for a research trip to NOLA? ;D

    The Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel is a fabulously comfy place to stay, if anyone wants a recommendation.

    You can never have just one beignet from Café du Monde. It's not humanly possible.

  149. The paddle boats on the Mississippi are such fun! Just don't wear khaki shorts or forget your rain poncho in your hotel room, because it will inevitably rain that day...