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Eerie Ghosts and Vampires of the New Orleans French Quarter

Created by Laura Martone

An exclusive pair of spooky, self-guided tours created by two Big Easy storytellers. In ebook, print, and audio. Enjoyable anywhere!

Latest Updates from Our Project:

A HEAPING BOWL OF GRATITUDE!
6 months ago – Sat, Jun 18, 2022 at 03:20:26 PM

Howdy, y’all!

I hope your weekend is off to a terrific start – wherever you are right now.

As you probably know, our Dark Side of New Orleans campaign came to a close yesterday at 9pm EDT – and because of your much-appreciated interest, enthusiasm, and support of our spooky project, our first-ever Kickstarter was a huge, rip-roaring success!

Seriously, Dan and I were absolutely stunned by the results. When we launched our campaign 24 days ago, we had no earthly idea that we’d hit $4,582 with 101 backers! To say we far exceeded our expectations would be a major understatement.

And naturally, I meant to send this message last night, but I was honestly too pooped to organize my thoughts. Now, though, after a day of reflection and celebration, Dan and I simply want to say… 

No, really, thank you so much for believing in us and for backing our project. We are incredibly grateful – and we always will be. Thanks you for sharing this amazing journey with us.

Of course, it’s not over yet – far from it.

As soon as Kickstarter gives us the green light, I will send out the necessary backer surveys to ensure proper fulfillment of all your rewards and perks, and soon after that, I’ll be in touch about the tarot readings, various deliverables, and two online, stretch-goal events – the Q&A session and the watch party – so please keep an eye on your email inbox.

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend – each and every one of you!

Much gratitude always,

Laura (& Dan) Martone

Let the good times roll!
6 months ago – Fri, Jun 17, 2022 at 05:51:54 AM

This clip makes me laugh every time I see it.  It's the perfect thing to watch while finishing up this campaign!

TOURING THE BIG EASY IN PERSON + OTHER COOL CAMPAIGNS
6 months ago – Thu, Jun 16, 2022 at 05:50:08 PM

Howdy, y’all!

I hope your week’s going swimmingly. I’m sure you’re busy, so I’ll get straight to the point.

We’re only $106 away from our second stretch goal – and about 50 hours away from the end of our campaign. So, before time runs out, I just want to let you know about a few discounted reward tiers.

Obviously, our campaign’s focus is The Dark Side of New Orleans: the audio, ebook, and print versions of our self-guided ghost and vampire tours of the New Orleans French Quarter. As previously shared, Dan and I created these excursions so that folks could get a taste of New Orleans from anywhere in the world – on their own timetable.

But because we LOVE showing visitors around our favorite city in the world, we’re also offering a variety of in-person tours. All are private, customized excursions that include any necessary pre-planning sessions and, depending on the tour, relevant costs for food, cocktails, cover charges, and lodging (for up to two people).

We realize they’re pricey, and we know money is tight for most of us these days, so we’re not expecting anyone to opt for them right now, but just in case you know someone who might be interested in a private tour, we’re providing the following discounts for the last 50 hours of our campaign:

  • The NOLA COCKTAIL TOUR reward tier ($600) now includes two separate tours: a cocktail tour of the French Quarter and a music tour of the FQ and adjacent Faubourg Marigny.
  • The NOLA FOOD TOUR reward tier ($600) now includes two separate tours: a culinary tour of the French Quarter and a music tour of the FQ and adjacent Faubourg Marigny.
  • The NOLA TOUR TRIO reward tier (formerly $1,500), which includes three separate excursions (food, cocktail, and music), is now $1,000.

Of course, you don’t need to be with us to enjoy New Orleans. Whether you live here, plan to visit soon, or hope to come in the future, you’ll find plenty of amazing sights, sounds, and tastes all on your own. If you’re looking for any ideas, though, consider a few of our favorites.

THE COCKTAILS

New Orleans is the home of many famous cocktails, from the Sazerac, a brandy concoction developed by local apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud in 1838, to the hurricane, a fruity rum punch invented at Pat O’Brien’s during World War II.

One of our favorites is the Ramos Gin Fizz, which was created by Henry Charles “Carl” Ramos at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in 1888. Typically served in a Collins glass, this frothy, slightly tart classic combines two ounces of dry gin, a three-quarter ounce of simple syrup, three dashes of orange flower water, one fresh egg white, a half-ounce each of heavy cream, lemon juice, and lime juice, and enough chilled club soda to fill the glass.

It likely sounds like a complicated cocktail – and frankly, it is – but its scrumptious, refreshing flavor makes it well worth the effort. Some local bartenders might wince when you order it – as it requires a bit more prep time and shaking vigor than the average cocktail – but I've found that offering a bigger tip helps to counter any grumbles!

the Ramos Gin Fizz

THE CUISINE

The Big Easy might be known for several memorable cocktails, but it’s the cuisine that captures most people’s attention – and rightfully so. Between the fresh seafood, Cajun and Creole traditions, and more creative fare, New Orleans is the ideal place for any self-respecting gourmand.

Consequently, Dan and I have a LOT of favorite dishes, from seafood gumbo to chicken and andouille jambalaya to fried green tomato and shrimp remoulade po-boys. But one particularly special choice is the shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake at Jacques-Imo’s in uptown New Orleans. At once creamy, spicy, and oh-so-decadent, it’s the kind of dish you might want to share with someone – but naturally, you don’t have to! 

shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake

THE MUSIC

There’s little Dan and I love more than listening to live music in the French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny. Over the years, we’ve been known to frequent several different venues, especially The Kerry Irish Pub on Decatur Street (where you’ll hear everything from country music to classic rock to Irish and Scottish ballads) and The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen Street (a great place for old-fashioned jazz and blues).

Not surprisingly, we have a long list of favorite local musicians, but one of our top choices is undoubtedly Meschiya Lake, whose amazing voice snagged our attention well over a decade ago, when she was performing on Royal Street with several other young buskers. Nowadays, though, music lovers will flock to a variety of venues to see her perform, whether she’s singing with just piano accompaniment or an entire brass band.

Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns at FQ Fest

I hope we’ve given you some helpful food for thought (pun intended) for a future trek through NOLA – but if you’d like to know a bit more about us, please check out this short video:

Thanks, as always, for listening! And thanks, too, for being such wonderful backers!

Oh, and if you’re curious about other indie publishing projects on Kickstarter, please check out the following campaigns from four of my fellow authors. 

Extreme Medical Services: An Urban Fantasy Series

Just launched today by my friend Jamie Davis – and already fully funded, woohoo! – this campaign focuses on a trilogy of limited hardcover omnibus editions of the author’s complete, nine-book, contemporary fantasy series about tireless paramedics and their supernatural patients. The limited editions also include five short stories (two of which are exclusive to Kickstarter). Jamie’s campaign runs until June 30, but the sooner you back it, the more perks you’ll likely receive.

EXTREME MEDICAL SERVICES

Self-Publishing and Email Marketing

Another buddy of mine also launched his campaign today – which fully funded in about 20 minutes! Bryan Cohen – the founder of the 5-Day Author Ad Profit Challenge, the co-host of The Sell More Books Show Podcast, and the CEO of Best Page Forward – is offering a brand-new book on email marketing for self-published authors, and Kickstarter backers will receive it three months before the rest of the world. The campaign, which ends on June 30, also features an exclusive email marketing challenge, plus a ton of other useful goodies for indie authors.

SELF-PUBLISHING AND EMAIL MARKETING

Upgrades to The Ultimate Authorship Planner

Yet another pal of mine is running a terrific campaign for writers. Audrey Hughey, the creator of The Ultimate Authorship Planner and the yearly dated Author’s Planner, has dedicated her career to empowering her fellow authors and helping them reach their version of success with a supportive community and a variety of organizational tools. Since creating her first planner in 2018, Audrey has improved upon it over the years, and this campaign, which ends on June 24, provides even more optimization with significant updates, digital versions, and more.

THE ULTIMATE AUTHORSHIP PLANNER

Waters Dark and Deep: 6 contemporary angel fantasy books

Through this campaign (which ends on July 1), author Solo Storm is featuring her six-book contemporary urban fantasy series Waters Dark and Deep. At the heart of the series lies a teenage girl who, after discovering she’s a lost princess of archangel descendants, realizes the whole Archworld wants to murder her. If you like reading about royal bloodlines, complex friendships, family drama, slow-burn romances, and battling angels and demons, then you might love this series. Ideal for fans of young-adult fare like The Mortal Instruments and The Vampire Diaries

WATERS DARK AND DEEP

OK, that’s all for now. Thanks again for your time and interest – and please don’t hesitate to spread the word about our NOLA ghost and vampire project. Only 50 hours left to back this spooky campaign!

Well, until my next update, have fun and be safe! 

Sincerely,

Laura Martone

SECOND STRETCH GOAL UNLOCKED! LESS THAN 23 HOURS TO GO!
6 months ago – Thu, Jun 16, 2022 at 07:24:40 AM

OK, I admit it… the last two days of our first-ever campaign have been totally nerve-wracking! Since it’s crunch time for backers to adjust their pledges, Dan and I have watched the funding total go up and down several times. And while we totally understand and appreciate the volatile nature of this amazing platform, it’s still sparked a few heart palpitations. (For me, I mean – not my oft-rational hubby.)

But that doesn’t alter the fact that we are both so grateful for all our wonderful backers – and your collective generosity, enthusiasm, and support!

In fact, I have some terrific news: As of this moment, we’ve reached $4,070, which enables us to unlock our second stretch goal! Yahoo!

That means that, as shown in the graphic below, we’ll now include two bonus hauntings in The Dark Side of New Orleans (ebook and paperback) – featuring Antoine’s Restaurant, one of America’s oldest family-run eateries, and the Hotel Monteleone, a landmark frequented by some of the country’s most celebrated writers.

In addition, we’ll present a webinar-style, ask-us-anything session (via Zoom) and host an online watch party of a New Orleans–based movie to any backer who’s pledged $10 or higher. Although we have yet to schedule the live Q&A and screening, they will likely happen sometime in July. We’ll let you know the exact day/time of each once the campaign is over.

And just so we’re clear, these stretch goals will absolutely happen – even if our overall total drops before the campaign ends tomorrow at 9pm EDT.

Two down, two to go!

Yep, that’s right! This campaign ends in less than a day!

So, if you know anyone who might be interested in ghosts, vampires, New Orleans, or all three, please send them our campaign link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lauramartone/darksidenola

And if they need a nudge to support our project, here are five great reasons to do so before it’s all over:

  • Our self-guided tours are an affordable way to experience the French Quarter and learn a bit about New Orleans.
  • You’ll find these immersive, spooky experiences both fun and educational – filled with fictional tales as well as historical facts.
  • With our virtual tours (in audio, ebook, and print), you can enjoy New Orleans without the time and expense of traveling here.
  • Through our other offerings – from a compact travel guide to online tarot readings and music and food tours – you’ll get an insider’s look at this amazing city (whether virtually or in person).
  • And lastly, these offerings aren’t available anywhere else.

In other words, there are ONLY 23 HOURS LEFT to take advantage of these goodies before they’re gone!

Just like the yummy beignets at Café Du Monde, our exclusive Kickstarter offerings will disappear soon!

OK, that’s enough hawking for one night. :-)

Until next time… have fun, be safe, and look out for the dark side!

Sincerely,

Laura Martone

OUR FAVORITE NOLA FILMS
6 months ago – Sun, Jun 12, 2022 at 02:42:50 PM

Howdy, y’all!

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend – wherever you happen to be.

Thanks again for supporting our spooky project and sharing it with others. Dan and I are both so grateful for all the enthusiasm and encouragement you’ve expressed since we launched our campaign over two weeks ago – and we honestly can’t believe that we now have 75 amazing backers! So, thanks so much for your interest!

As you likely know, you’ve helped us unlock our first stretch goal, which will enable us to add a bonus haunting (Antoine’s Restaurant) to The Dark Side of New Orleans (ebook and paperback) AND present a webinar-style, ask-us-anything session (via Zoom) to any backer who’s pledged $10 or higher.

Well, I’m delighted to report that we’re now only $217 away from our second stretch goal ($4,000) – which means we’re close to unlocking two more fun extras: another bonus haunting (the Hotel Monteleone) in The Dark Side of New Orleans AND an online watch party of a New Orleans-based movie for any backer who’s pledged $10 or higher. So, please keep spreading the word to anyone who might be interested in ghosts, vampires, the Big Easy, or all of the above!

Of course, since I now have watch parties on the brain, I can’t help but reflect on how photogenic my hometown and the surrounding region are. It probably doesn’t surprise you that the lush landscape, antebellum plantation homes, lively bars and music clubs, and well-preserved historic districts of southern Louisiana have long been favored by filmmakers and television producers.

In fact, hundreds of movies and shows have taken advantage of this unique culture and atmosphere, including classic, Oscar-winning films like Jezebel (1938) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), both of which were partially shot in southern Louisiana. More recent productions include dramas like Pretty Baby (1978), JFK (1991), Dead Man Walking (1995), Eve’s Bayou (1997), All the King’s Men (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), and The Lucky One (2012), the television spin-offs NCIS: New Orleans (2014–2021) and The Originals (2013–2018), the “Coven” season of American Horror Story (2011–present), and HBO’s much-acclaimed series Treme (2010–2013), which authentically chronicles the lives of various Big Easy residents and musicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Thanks to our friend Cathryn Humphris (pictured on the left), former co-executive producer of NCIS: NEW ORLEANS, Dan and I got to visit NCIS's on-location set and meet one of our longtime favorite actors, Scott Bakula (pictured on the right). Oh, and that’s me in the middle!

I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you my cinematic ramblings and just offer you a list of our top dozen favorite films set in and around New Orleans. (Naturally, a third of them are horror films. Go figure.)

Angel Heart (1987). Written and directed by Alan Parker, starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Bonet. In this sultry thriller, based on a novel by William Hjortsberg and partially shot in New Orleans, New York–based gumshoe Harry Angel follows a voodoo trail to the Big Easy in search of a missing singer.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009). Written by William M. Finkelstein, directed by Werner Herzog, and starring Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, and Xzibit. In this unrelated sequel to Bad Lieutenant (1992), a corrupt, drug- and gambling-addicted homicide detective investigates the murder of five Senagalese immigrants in post-Katrina New Orleans.

The Big Easy (1986). Written by Daniel Petrie Jr., directed by Jim McBride, and starring Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Ned Beatty, and John Goodman. Set in New Orleans, this film focuses on a local homicide detective facing three concurrent dilemmas: bribery charges, a series of gang killings, and a sexy lawyer from the District Attorney’s police corruption task force.

Cat People (1982). Written by Alan Ormsby, directed by Paul Schrader, and starring Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, and Annette O’Toole. Featuring New Orleans landmarks like the Audubon Zoo and the Gallier House, this erotic, Golden Globe–nominated remake of the 1942 horror classic follows two unusual siblings, whose sexual urges transform them into deadly black leopards.

Déjà Vu (2006). Written by Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio, directed by Tony Scott, and starring Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, and Jim Caviezel. In post-Katrina New Orleans, an ATF agent travels back in time to prevent a ferry explosion on the Mississippi River and, in the process, save a woman from being murdered.

Hatchet (2006). Written and directed by Adam Green, starring Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond, Tamara Feldman, and Kane Hodder. In this entertaining horror comedy, several tourists experience a haunted swamp tour in the outskirts of New Orleans, only to be stranded in the wilderness with a mythical madman.

Heaven’s Prisoners (1996). Written by Harley Peyton and Scott Frank, directed by Phil Joanou, and starring Alec Baldwin, Kelly Lynch, Mary Stuart Masterson, Eric Roberts, and Teri Hatcher. In this adaptation of a James Lee Burke novel, ex-detective Dave Robicheaux and his wife, Annie, rescue a young girl from a plane crash in the outskirts of New Orleans – an act that forever alters their lives.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994). Written by Anne Rice, directed by Neil Jordan, and starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst, and Christian Slater. In this award-winning adaptation of Anne Rice’s acclaimed novel, a brooding vampire records his epic history, beginning with a life-altering encounter with the flamboyant vampire Lestat in 18th-century New Orleans. Partially filmed in Louisiana, the movie showcases famous landmarks like Vacherie’s Oak Alley Plantation and the Big Easy’s Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District

Panic in the Streets (1950). Written by Richard Murphy and Daniel Fuchs, directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Palance, and Zero Mostel. Set in New Orleans, this Oscar-winning crime thriller tells the action-packed story of a policeman and a doctor who have less than 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

The Princess and the Frog (2009). Written by Ron Clements, John Musker, and Rob Edwards, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and featuring the voices of Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Jennifer Cody, Jenifer Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, and John Goodman. Inspired by the classic story “The Frog Prince,” this animated, Oscar-nominated fantasy tells the story of a New Orleans waitress who, while trying to fulfill her dream of restaurant ownership, embarks on a journey to turn a cursed frog back into a human prince. This family-friendly musical incorporates many local attributes, including jazz, voodoo, streetcars, swamps, and landmarks like Jackson Square.

Runaway Jury (2003). Written by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Rick Cleveland, and Matthew Chapman, directed by Gary Fleder, and starring John Cusack, Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman, and Dustin Hoffman. Based on a John Grisham novel and featuring iconic New Orleans settings like Café Du Monde and St. Charles Avenue, this riveting thriller pits a mysterious juror and his girlfriend against a man who manipulates court trials involving gun manufacturers.

The Skeleton Key (2005). Written by Ehren Kruger, directed by Iain Softley, and starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, Peter Sarsgaard, John Hurt, and Joy Bryant. When a young hospice nurse takes a position at a creepy plantation home outside New Orleans, she becomes ensnared in a mystery involving hoodoo folk magic and the property’s dark past.

So, do you have a favorite New Orleans flick? If so, please comment below – Dan and I love adding new discoveries to our to-be-watched list.

Actually, we did just add one: a short gothic horror film called The Strangle of Ivy, directed by Tara Garwood and based on Sara Crocoll Smith’s short story of the same name. In this haunting tale, a successful doctor, Samantha Wentworth, returns to her childhood home to check on her ailing mother – a retired military officer and former senator whose strict, prideful nature has made for a complicated mother-daughter relationship. While there, Samantha uncovers some dark family secrets that will change her forever.

To be fair, this movie doesn’t exist yet, but it will! That’s because passionate backers like you are helping to fund its current Kickstarter campaign. As a former filmmaker and film festival director, I’m so excited about this project – I just backed it myself.

So, if, like me, you enjoy supporting female-driven horror, check out The Strangle of Ivy – which you can help to create while receiving all sorts of cool rewards, including the story, the film, the shooting script, a visit to the movie set, a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process, and so much more.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be in touch soon. Until then, enjoy your Sunday!

Sincerely,

Laura Martone