Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Oh, Kaye!" Chats About Bouchercon in New Orleans

I did a post awhile back about my Bouchercon pre-reading and research as we draw closer to hopping on a plane to attend this annual event.  

As I mentioned then, I'm one who likes to read about where I'm going to get a feel for the city. Hank suggested that I report back on things I found to be of particular interest.

Since Boucheron is in New Orleans this year, it's been some fascinating reading. 

That, of course, is not to say I don't enjoy the spontaneous adventures that come with traveling.  

What's more fun than stumbling into a delightful little bookstore?  The perfect cafe?

Or, as happened to us in Greece - a wedding.

We were having a late lunch at an outdoor taverna when a gloriously happy bride, groom and very large wedding party came out of a small church about a half block away from where we were sitting.

We were able to enjoy watching them having wedding pictures taken, posing in front of the church, in front on a fountain, sitting on an ancient wall, with church bells ringing and people laughing.  Pure sweet magic. 

It was fun for us to watch and try to figure out who was who - easy to figure out the mother of the bride, and the father of the bride - he was the one who thought no one saw him wipe away a few stray tears as he stood back watching his beautiful daughter as she smiled, laughed and hugged the many friends and family members. 


That's a big part of travel, after all, isn't it?  Being open to whatever might happen.  As well as new ideas, new cultures?


I like to have at least a little smidge of knowledge about where I'm headed though.

The history, the culture, and in the case of New Orleans - the restaurants!

The French Quarter!

The Garden District!

Elegant homes, magnificent architecture and sumptuous hidden gardens.

This amateur photographer's dream come true.  I do intend to sign up for a walking photo tour, it's just trying to figure out when I can do it!

And the more I learn about New Orleans, the more interesting it becomes.

I've also learned that some of the things I thought I knew were just plain wrong.

Imagine that.

Proving, once again, that we might not want to believe everything we think.

I'm fascinated and intrigued by old cemeteries.  

There's an abundance of history and beauty in the cemeteries of New Orleans, and I was happy to learn there's an active group dedicated to the preservation of those cemeteries.  All 31 of them.

Save Our Cemeteries has been in existence since 1974.  It was through their webpage that I learned that not all of New Orleans' dead are placed in burial crypts above ground like I had always believed.  

This from their FAQ - "Are burials conducted in-ground today? Yes, many cemeteries offer single burial plots for burial in ground, with a simple marker, much like the rest of the United States. Modern pumping stations allow for this practice. However, the multiple burial above-ground system still remains the most popular, and traditional, mode of burial.

In addition to the Save Our Cemeteries group, there are other groups doing cemetery tours, as well. 

The one I've signed up to take, along with some friends, is a Cemetery/Voodoo tour.   (Note - Visiting the cemeteries is not one of those things you should consider doing alone)

Since the particular tour we've signed up for will include St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, I plan on paying Madame Laveau a little visit.

Marie Laveau was known as New Orleans' Voodoo Queen.  She still is, I guess, even though she died in 1881.  She has been, and continues to be, the inspiration of many books and novels. 

She's had songs written about her, and she's still a popular artistic figure.  

No one seems completely sure where the real Madame Laveau ends and the fictional Laveau begins, but it's all interesting and compelling.


What else do I plan on doing in New Orleans?

Besides all things Bouchercon, I mean?

Well, I've signed up to take a cooking class.

It's a two and a half hour class where we'll be leaning how to make gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster and pralines.  I'm excited.

And I'll be doing some shopping, I'm sure.

A lot of walking, and some exploring via streetcar. Taking the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue sounds heavenly. 

I'm interested in finding a shop by the name of  Maskarade" . . . carries a large selection of masks from some of the best local and national artists whose fabulous creations are done in a variety of mediums. We also carry fine Italian masks handmade in the old traditional Venetian style by Master Maskmakers"  

I'll browse Royal Street, of course.

Also, one of the areas I hope to visit is Julia Street, also known as Gallery Row.  I enjoy seeking out the work of local artists and artisans, and this looks like an area of New Orleans I'll be able to do just that.

Esplanade Avenue is on my list to feed my interest in architecture and local history.  My camera is itching to get some shots of some of the charm of this historical treasure.  

There are some voodoo temples I'd like to visit.  In fact, one is included in our cemetery/voodoo tour.

As far as I know, there are no voodoo temples in Boone, NC, or the near vicinity, so I'm pretty excited about this.  I'm interested in learning a little more about this ancient religion which is believed in and taken quite seriously by many in Louisiana.


I'm pretty sure I'll be eating well.  Too well.

I'm going to be in New Orleans for quite a few days.  Going early and staying late, as are some Bouchercon Buddies.  It will be fun exploring New Orleans with these friends I usually only get to see once a year.

Who knows if I'll get to everything on my list or not.  We'll just have to see.  If I do, or if I don't, I have not a doubt in the world that it's going to be a pretty special trip.  And - I can always go back again, after all.

While the convention's going on I'll be involved with a good bit of volunteering.  

Which reminds me - if you're going and haven't signed up to help, I encourage you to do so.  It's a great way to meet some fun people, including the authors. And, since Bouchercon relies solely on volunteers, it's just a good thing to do.  

If you're interested, here's a couple email address for you - 


There are lots of different volunteer opportunities available.  Give it a thought.

I'm excited about the fact that I'm going to be on a panel Thursday at noon with my pals Lesa Holstine, Dru Ann Love, Kristopher Zigorski and Erica Neubauer, moderated by Penny Halle.  We're going to discuss books we recommend.  How fun is that going to be?  I'm pretty sure Bouchercon attendees enjoy talking about books, huh?  I hope to see some of you there!

AND, I'll be joining the contributors to this year's anthology, Blood on the Bayou, for a group signing on Saturday at 2:00. Hope to see you there too!  

I'm beyond pleased to be included and, truth be told, I thank Madame Laveau for her help in writing the story.  Which is one reason I intend to visit her in the cemetery so I can say "thanks."  

So, Dear Reds, raise your hands - who's going to New Orleans for Bouchercon?  And what fun things do you have planned?


  1. It sounds as if you’re all set to have a marvelous time in New Orleans, Kaye! It all sounds marvelous and exciting and I hope you’re planning to share your adventures with us after you get home again . . . .

  2. I'll be there, looking forward to hugging your neck, Kaye. And staying with a friend in the Garden District, right down the street from where both Sandra Bullock and John Goodman live, and close to Commanders Palace. We intend to have at least one Sazerac together.

    If you are bold enough, try a traditional absinthe at Pirate's in Pirate's Alley near Jackson Square. My advice is to share one with a friend, at least the first time. They can knock you on your keester.

  3. I will be there, Kaye and am looking forward to exploring New Orleans and surrounding areas. I also read Eat Dat and Fear Dat and have subscribed to several on-line blogs/newsletters to do some background prep on NOLA. And I like to read new (to me) authors with NOLA-based stories before travelling down there: I chose Bill Loehfelm, Laura Morrigan and Traci Andrighetti to read this week.

    The Cemetery/Voodoo tour and cooking class sounds wonderful. For non-Bouchercon activities, I will also be travelling on the St. Charles streetcar and exploring several neighbourhoods on foot or bike both before and after Bouchercon. I am planning to go on a swamp/plantation tour. And I will definitely go to Frenchmen Street for live music. And eat, eat, eat, and try a few unique cocktails I have heard about.

    As for Bouchercon-related activities, I will be going to Noir at the Bar on Wednesday, and Ellen Byron's book launch on Saturday. And I am looking forward to the Kathy's pre-Bcon dinner on Tuesday and meeting you (and others) in person!

    The rest of my itinerary is a bit vague. I am leaving it open to allow me to wander and explore new areas and try new things that I hear about while there. I thought 11 days in NOLA was enough, but now I am not sure!

  4. I think I'm going to just tag along with you, Kaye! I'm flying in on Monday, because I've never been in NOLO, but I'm afraid I'm going home directly on Sunday.I'll be at the Tuesday dinner and hope to find some history during the day along with good eats and drinks. And I'll be signing right next to you on Saturday. Really looking forward to that.

    The Wicked Cozys are organizing a Cozy Meetup Friday at noon, y'all. Stay tuned for location.

  5. I will be there and ready to see, eat and possibly sleep New Orleans.

    I'm arriving early to get in some pre-Bouchercon fun with some friends, including you. Looking forward to the 2-hour highlights tour of New Orleans, the cemetery tour and a night out at Preservation Hall and of course a trip to Cafe du Monde. I'm also interested in the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, the Audubon Aquarium, the National WWII museum and riding the various streetcars to get a feel for the city.


  6. Hi Kaye! What a great post! The MacNeal crypt is in NOLA, so I might be joining you, to pay respects. Also excited to go to the WWII museum.

  7. I'll be there, but I'm afraid I"m planning on serendipity. I won't be there as long as you because of work, and, of course the awards and parade are on Friday night, and I"m leaving on Sunday. So, I'm just going to wait to see what happens and who I run into. But, I'm lucky to have a great roommate who seems to have a lot of ideas for celebration!

  8. Oh I WISH I were going to Bouchercon. This is the first one I've missed in quite a few years. I love NOLA, though I usually steer clear of the French Quarter. Just taking a good long walk is bliss. (Interested to hear about making pralines. For all the hoopla about them I've never had one that didn't taste...old. Which makes me think it's a candy to make yourself and then eat them all in the next 24 hours.)

  9. Joan - I'm pretty excited. And you know I'll have photos and stories to share.

    Karen, hi!! Looking forward to seeing you and sharing a hug. I'm not much of a drinker, so I'll let you and others sample these exotic adult beverages and then tell me all about 'em. I am looking forward to a little lemoncello (homemade) get-together I've been invited to. Lesa introduced me to lemoncello last year in Raleigh, and being a lover of all things lemony, I became a big fan quickly.

    Grace, I look forward to meeting you! And I agree, 11 days seems like a nice long visit, but maybe not quite long enough for New Orleans. SO much to do!

    Edith, I know we'll be bumping into one another all over the place. Looking forward to our dinner and very much looking forward to our signing.

    Dru - "possibly sleep." Yes. We do need to try to do some of that, don't we? I can't wait to see you - don't we have some fun things planned?!

    Susan, I kinda love that the MacNeal crypt is in New Orleans, and it's only right that w all pay our respects.

    Lesa, Bouchercon serendipity is the best kind of serendipiity. I can't wait to see you and I'm pretty lucky to have the best rooommate in the history of roommates (see you soon, roomie! <3 )


  10. Hallie - you will be missed!!!! I'm not a big fan of pralines, truth be told, but Don Barley is. I'll let you know how that goes.

  11. This sounds like a wonderful trip you've planned Kaye--so sorry to miss all the fun both at the conference and in the city! I have very fond memories of fried oyster po boys and muffaletta sandwiches and beignets...

    Have a great time Y'all!


  12. Thank you, Lucy/Roberta. You will be missed! I'll have a beignet, or two, for you.

  13. I'll be there! Sadly I won't be able to come early and stay late, but I hope to take in as much New Orleans flavor as I can from Wednesday to Sunday.

    See you soon!

  14. Tuesday to Sunday for me--boo. But I'm very excited as I haven't been to NOLA since I was a teenager. My kiddos, who LOVE New Orleans, will be there Wednesday to Saturday, so I'm counting on them for eating and sightseeing advice. I'm looking forward to seeing so many friends (and my lovely editor.) I know the days are going to fly by.

    I will, unfortunately, be smack dad in the middle of my copy edit, so I may be spending more time in my hotel room than I'd like...

    Kaye, can't wait to hug you!!!

    And we will really be missing Hallie, Julia, and Roberta...:-(

  15. PS: Does anyone know who has the best fried oyster poboys? Love them!!!

    I think to get in the mood I'm going to watch The Big Easy this weekend. One of my all time favorite movies--and soundtracks.


  16. I will chase you down for that hug, Debs! The Big Easy! I love that movie - what a great idea!!

  17. That sounds so fabulous! What a terrific tour guide. And the cooking class! Genius. Sounds like a future blog for sure…

    And YOU all will be my favorite sights in New Orleans! Cannot wait to see you..

    Anyone know about the weather? I guess it's too soon...


  18. aw, Thank you, Hank. I'm pretty tickled about the cooking class. Cannot wait to see you!! xxoo

  19. Though I will not attend Bouchercon in New Orleans, I look forward to reading about your trip and look forward to reading comments by other JRW authors and commenters.

    Kaye, thank you for sharing. I think of movies like Streetcar Named Desire and the Disney movie the Princess and the Frog when I think of New Orleans. Have some yummy garlic bread for us :-)

    I do plan to attend Bouchercon in Canada next year.

    Who plans to attend Bouchercon in Canada next year?



  20. Diana, I am already so sad not to be going to Bouchercon next year!!!!

  21. I will be there at NOLA, but because of work I will only be there Wed to Sun. Since it will be my first time to visit the city, I am really looking forward to it. I hope to see the WWII museum and the aquarium plus just do some wandering/exploring, maybe take in a tour, and try some of the best local food. :)

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  23. Enjoyed your post. Thrilled to be joining you in NOLA and my first Bouchercon! I’ll be helping with the Silent Auction so I hope you will come by and bid on something fun!

  24. Looking forward to seeing everybody in New Orleans. I haven't been for many years and looking forward to that great food. Oysters. Craw dads. Oh, and beignets at Cafe du Monde. And the streetcar on St Charles Street.
    Three of us Reds are on a panel on Saturday and we'll be sharing our stories from the road--signing and speeches, the strange, the funny and the terrifying. Should be fun.

  25. Normally, I would have read your post this morning, Kaye, but the grandkids have been here, and everything else had to wait. I do believe I will run into you in NOLA, Kaye. Hahaha! I am so looking forward to spending time with you. As well as Tuesday night, you and I have to go for coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde, as we love coffee so much. Dru, maybe the three of us and whoever else can plan a Cafe du Monde visit. Being a fan of cemeteries, visiting them, I would like to do a cemetery tour. Kaye, I'll need to ask you more about the one you're going on. The WWII Museum is definitely on my list and lingering in some art shops (maybe we can hit Julia St. together, Kaye). Eating, of course, is a major attraction, and I have several restaurants already scheduled. I'd love to do a ghost tour at night, but I don't know when I can fit it in. And, of course, the panel with the Reds on it is on my panel schedule. I'd like to find some brave soul who want to try the absinthe at Pirate's in Pirate's Alley. I'm not sure I'm brave enough, but I'm fascinated by the history of absinthe.

    The Tuesday night dinner and music gathering I've planned is going to be so much fun with the amazing people attending. Dru, Edith, and Grace are coming along, and Kaye, I think you've decided on just the music and not dinner. Is that right? Maybe I can twist your arm on that one. Terry Shames and Judy Bobalik will be joining us, too. If anyone here on the blog, Reds authors or others, want to join us for our Tuesday night outing, just let me know, so I can watch for you when we gather in the hotel lobby. We will be meeting in the Marriott lobby on Tuesday the 13th around 4:30 and walking to a restaurant, probably Napoleon House (I want to go to try a Pimm's that they're famous for). Napoleon House is about a 6 minute walk, and then we will go to Preservation Hall for a show, or, since we are being flexible that night, maybe another music venue instead. Anyone is welcome to go with us.

    I have a close friend, grew up next door to each other, who is currently on his honeymoon in New Orleans right now, and he is going to send me some suggestions of what he and his husband enjoyed the most. They are having such a great time there that he messaged me they are planning to spend a month each year there when he retires. I can't wait to get the list from him.

    I should arrive around noon Monday at the Marriott and am leaving the next Monday afternoon. My adult daughter is joining me on Tuesday until Sunday, but she's not attending Bouchercon. Debs, she and Katie would probably hit it off. Also, Debs, Diana C. and I are planning to get together sometime, as well as Karin.

    In closing here, I can only say that I have lots to do this next week to get ready, and I can't wait to get there and see everyone. I, too, am new to lemoncello, Kaye, from Raleigh and will see you at the get-together featuring it. I will really miss seeing Hallie, Julia, and Roberta. So, Kaye, let's get our chicken beaks on and start clucking to NOLA!

  26. Manning, you are going to love your first Bouchercon, I guarantee! I always love the silent auction, so yes - I will see you there!

    Looking forward to seeing you, Rhys!

    Kathy. You have made me laugh (so, what's new, huh?!) I'll send you a note. Reds, chances are if you see Kathy, you're going to see me - and vice versa. And there may be chickens . . .

  27. I went to high school in New Orleans (at Ursuline Academy, those of you who know New Orleans will know Ursuline). It is one of my favorite cities on earth because of the people the food the music the dancing the shopping the joie de vivre. Not to mention the booze.
    Which is why I visit as often as possible. I always try to eat my way through the city, starting at the Gumbo Shop and Cafe du Monde to the College Inn and Commander's Palace (my fave restaurant in the world).
    Fortunately I'll have to walk a lot all over the French Quarter in search of the perfect New Orleans memento and that sort of helps to burn off all those calories. I just bought two pairs of linen pants anticipation of these walks, because it will be hot, people.
    And I have to look presentable, not just at the conference where I have so many friends and clients on panels, but at the publishers' parties, which are at cool places like Galatoire's and Brennan's. If only Bouchercon were in NOLA every year!

  28. This will be my first time at BoucherCon and New Orleans, so I'm both super excited and a little nervous.

    Unfortunately, I'm going to miss a good chunk of BoucherCon, because I arrive late Tuesday night, but leave on Saturday. My job doesn't offer paid vacation, so even this short trip is a bit of a splurge for me.

    The only thing I know I'm doing for sure (other than eating everything in sight) is the SinC workshop on Wednesday. Walter Moseley is the keynote speaker and the topic is Writing Our Differences - Doing Diversity Right, which is a topic that's very important to me.

    Other than that, hoping to check out the Guppie meetup and just wander around taking everything in. A friend of mine will be on the trip, but she's not a writer or mystery fan, so the plan is to do BoucherCon stuff during the day and hang out with her at night.