A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I-Spy something beginning with ... Research!

Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.

Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

TODAY'S POST: I-Spy something beginning with ... Research!

Authors have to get their facts straight. Authenticity is a huge part of storytelling. It's true! For me, that means getting my boots on the ground. It's no secret I'm a total research nerd, and immersion is by far my favorite method for getting the details perfect, especially when it comes to locale. I can watch movies and tourist videos, review photos and ask questions, but there are some things I just have to experience to understand. Culture is one of those things. So, I travel. (Hey, what can I say? It's a tough job). Once I've exhausted all the resources available from home, I compile a list of my remaining questions, buy my plane tickets and wave adios to rural Ohio. C-Ya!

My latest destination? New Orleans. July 28th - August 2nd. It was Ah-Mazing.

**I was there. I took this photo. I still can't believe it.**
(That's St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, the heart of the French Quarter)

I'd read about the city for months, years really, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to visit. I'd even interviewed several lifelong residents, but I still didn't know what it felt like there. I needed to know. I'm very "method" like that. I have to experience things as a means for understanding them. It's how my brain works.

(This was my new boyfriend... until he dumped me for a voodoo doll)

What was I saying? Oh yeah. Despite all I'd read, I still didn't know what NOLA air felt like on my skin or what it smelled like. What was the vibe there? How about the people? The accents? The traffic? Road conditions? How about the most common expressions, attire, sights, sounds...I could go on. I really could. I have a list. So, when one of my 2014 mysteries was named a finalist in the BTS eMag Awards in New Orleans, I made plans to get answers for my research, and while I was at it, I'd attend the Red Carpet Awards! Look at me getting all the birds with just the one stone!

 **Red Carpet Awards selfie.** Told you I was there!

Okay, but before the awards, I spent about three months making an hour-by-hour itinerary for six days beginning at 6:00 am each morning and ending at midnight each night. I stayed three nights in the French Quarter and two in the Central Business District. In the Quarter, my hotel (Dauphine Orleans) was haunted and so was May Bailey's, the attached bar and former brothel. The bar was haunted by brothel workers and Civil War soldiers, in case you wondered. People really think this. Ghost hunters have been there to *document* the happenings. It's adorable. The hotel was one little block away from Bourbon Street, so the only strange things I saw during my stay came crawling home at dawn in last night's clothes....or lack thereof.

As an aside: everything in NOLA is allegedly haunted. NOLA folks are incredibly superstitious and believe all the things, so I learned quickly to nod, appropriately wide-eyed, in faux agreement. They didn't understand or appreciate my: Ohio people think that's hokum attitude, so I adjusted. I mean, when in Rome, right? Haunted, you say? 0_0 Oh, my!

Anyway. I took a three hour segway tour around the neighboring boroughs, visited Armstrong Park and fun places like Treme.

I rode streetcars and took a jazz dinner cruise up the Mississippi.

I took the ferry to Algiers.

Toured a convent and two cathedrals.

Went on a culinary history tour through the French Market and watched them make beignets and pralines. Yum!

I did a Ghost tour through the French Quarter, and a historic pub crawl down Bourbon Street,

(That's me in the center with my go-cup)

two cemetery tours,
( I don't know why this is left aligning :-/ Pretend it's not doing that)

I enjoyed a delightful walking tour of the Garden District and got tons of details for my book,

The true crime tour wasn't as fabulous as the others, but I went! I also visited three local museums including the 1850's house, the Cabildo and the Presbytere, where I learned about the city's history from actual city historians,(My inner nerd is still amped about this) plus I read up on the evolution of Mardi Gras and saw tons of jaw dropping displays.

I sobbed inside the Katrina museum like a baby. I just can't with that. SMH.

I had the muffaletta at Napoleons

and a purple drank at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. (Not a typo. It's called a purple drank).

I ordered cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe Du Monde, and they were delicious.

Spoke to fifty cabbies and soaked in three hundred years of everything in roughly 120 hours (traveling, even by plane, took the better part of two of my days - one going and one coming BUT I took notes on that too, all in the name of research). Oh, and did I mention the Faulkner House Bookstore in Pirate's Alley? Gorgeous. I died a little in there. Happily.

I loved this trip more than most. It was a lifetime in the making for me, and it culminated in a little extra unexpected baggage for the plane ride home.

I won at the Red Carpet Awards! My novel, Murder Comes Ashore, took first place in the Mystery category and earned an honorable mention for their readers' choice novel of the year!

Ahhh, I miss you already, New Orleans, but you've cultivated a place in my heart, and one day I'll have novel proof of your impact on me. *Stage sigh* I seriously LOVE research!


FUTURE POSTS will cover:
Kindlegraph / the art of research / writing male/male romance / rejection and writer's block / building suspense / writing love scenes / anti-piracy strategies / audio books / interviews with editors and agents / using Calibre.
We welcome everyone's constructive comments and suggestions!


Maureen A. Miller said...

Such beautiful pictures (including the left-aligned one!) LOL Congratulations on your win in New Orleans. It sounds like it was a winning trip all around!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Congratulations on your award!! And wow, what a trip! Sounds like it truly was the trip of a lifetime (in part, due to your fabulous planning skills). :D Glad you had a great time.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Wait... is research *supposed* to be so much fun...? :-) Congratulations on the win, Julie and thanks for the great post. Made me want to go and I *hate* humidity!

Julie Anne Lindsey said...

Thanks everyone!! And Marcelle, I'm lol ing on the humidity. Everyday my weather app said 97 with a real feel of 113. Uhhhhm. Not what this girl is used to! My hair looked like Albert Einstein most days while I was out walking :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Julie, it's 39F (4C) where I am right now. Yesterday--yes, August 31, it SNOWED. Colour me disgusted.

Sandy Parks said...

Great bog. Loved the visit story and photos. Sounds like you have a ton of material for more than one story.

Toni Anderson said...

Very nice. I love research!

Sharon Calvin said...

Congratulations on your award! Loved the pictures, but couldn't you find a way to give us the scents too? Yes, I agree boots on the ground is the way to go with research whenever possible.

Rita said...

Congrats on winning!
I live in NOLA for a couple years back before the Casino boats and you could go down to the market on the docks get just about any thing you desired. A couple months after we moved there they closed city park because they had to clear the gators out of the little canals/bayous. You're right about the scents and the feel of the heavy air. Mardi Gras was different then. Not a lot of drunk a-holes. Just drunk nice people.
Naw Lens is a most unique city. Gawd I could tell you stories but I don't think the statute of limitations has expired.

jean harrington said...

A gorgeous, gorgeous post, Lindsey. Loved it! And love New Orleans. You brought back my last happy visit there with four old friends. Five years after Katrina, we were at a concert in St. Louis Cathedral when the choir master asked how many were visitors. When one-third of the congregation raised hands, he thanked us for visiting their wounded city. A memorable moment. Again, thanks for a great post. And, BTW, you look GREAT in those photos.

Wynter said...

Wonderful post - and congrats on the award. I'm headed to NOLA in a few weeks so this was particularly exciting for me to read - and to take notes! Now I'm even more excited about my trip.

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