project-image

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:

IT’S TIME FOR A CONFESSION… OR TWO.
6 months ago – Fri, Jun 10, 2022 at 08:48:28 AM

Howdy, y’all!

I hope you’re having a wonderful week.

Dan and I are doing well – just working hard on our NOLA books behind the scenes.

But with only a week left of our Eerie Ghosts and Vampires campaign, I figure it’s time to admit an awkward truth: As much as I love horror, I’ve always had the uncanny ability to scare the living you-know-what out of myself.

As mentioned in the Creators section of our Kickstarter page, Dan and I share a lot of interests, including a passion for scary movies, TV shows, and books. But unlike my husband, I am incredibly easy to frighten – the kind of person, for instance, that the costumed staff members seek out at haunted attractions (because my guaranteed shrieks and nervous giggles apparently make their seasonal jobs a lot more fun and entertaining).

Of course, I don’t need other folks to terrify me. As mentioned above, I’m perfectly capable of doing that particular deed all on my own. In fact, thanks to my often misguided “spidey sense,” I’m especially adept at mistaking harmless peripheral visions for dangerous creatures set on murdering me.

Please allow me to share just a few ridiculous examples:

While on a camping trip as an adolescent, I briefly suspected a gnarled, moonlit tree of being a giant, bony hand bent on pulling me into the bowels of the earth. (OK, maybe I’d seen a few too many scary flicks by then.)

the gnarled tree that scared me as a kid

Nearly three decades later, I fleetingly believed a centuries-old chimney in the French Quarter was actually the Grim Reaper crouching on a roof, ready to pounce. (And I don’t even believe in the Angel of Death.)

Such moments of fear and trepidation usually last no more than a second – just long enough for my overactive imagination to spike my heart rate.

But on occasion, I’ve been known to truly scare the heebie-jeebies out of myself, to the point of inevitable embarrassment.

Once, for instance, while on a solo walk in the woods of northern Michigan, I encountered two helmeted, black-clad figures standing by a pine tree – which promptly compelled me to veer off the trail and bolt pell-mell back home, where I ended up with a major asthma attack and an extremely alarmed hubby. Determined to soothe my fears, he hopped on an ATV and ventured back to my place of panic – only to discover that my would-be assailants were nothing more than a pair of black snowmobiles, with two empty helmets perched atop their handlebars. Needless to say, Dan has yet to forget that particular incident.

So, yeah, even at the ripe old age of forty-five, I still manage to scare myself on occasion. Don’t get me wrong: I’m brave in lots of ways, and I love traveling to new and mysterious places (especially with my hubby in tow). But part of the reason that self-guided tours appeal to me is that I can choose to experience them in relative comfort and safety. Also, as someone who appreciates flexibility and autonomy, I love the fact that I can enjoy them at my own pace, on my own timetable.

That’s why Dan and I created our immersive ghost and vampire excursions. Naturally, we hope they’ll entice you to visit New Orleans someday, but even if you never step foot in the actual French Quarter, they’ll enable you to experience our city’s spookier side – anywhere in the world.

Jackson Square at night

To provide even more flexibility for these “tours,” we’re offering them in audio, ebook, and print – and no matter the format, we’re including helpful maps, GPS coordinates, and HTML links and QR codes that will lead you directly to the relevant pages in Google Street View. In that way, you’ll be able to see the exact location of the spooky spot you’re hearing or reading about.

Here’s an example of how this might work with the audio ghost tour:

I hope that demo addressed any lingering questions you (or folks you know) might have about our tours, but if not, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m always happy to lend a hand.

And please help us spread the word about our Kickstarter project. We’re currently less than $500 from our next stretch goal, and it would be so awesome to reach that by the time our campaign ends next week.

Now, before I let you go, I have one more confession to make – of a much more serious nature.

For most of my life, I’ve grappled with OCD, anxiety, and depression – often veiling it with a healthy sense of humor and an extremely outgoing personality – and since I’ve only become more vocal about these issues in recent years, I have a lot of admiration and gratitude for those who bear such vulnerability publicly.

Jonathan Ashline is one such individual: a compassionate man who explores his mental-health issues by writing heartfelt poems, short stories, novels, and screenplays. I truly admire the honest, poignant way he faces and copes with his anxiety, chronic depression, and Borderline Personality Disorder, and his current Kickstarter campaign, My Silent Cacophony, is no exception.

A sequel to his novel My Pocket of Fears: On Love, Depression, and Other Mental Disorders, this book guides the reader through a cathartic journey of therapy, hospitalization, and treatment, and as with his first book, he uses his storytelling abilities to help his fellow sufferers feel less alone. Of course, his novel will also appeal to those who simply love poetry and strive to understand how other humans operate. As a bonus, he’s included the illustrations of some amazing artists, including the drawing below – Mikhael Benson’s Mr. Anxiety – which really speaks to me.


a drawing in MY SILENT CACOPHONY, Mikhael Benson’s “Mr. Anxiety”

Please check out Jonathan’s campaign when you have a chance – and be sure to share it with anyone who might benefit from his work.

No matter what, though, I thank you for listening, and I hope you have an exceptional weekend!

Sincerely,

Laura Martone

THE ODDITIES OF NEW ORLEANS
6 months ago – Sun, Jun 05, 2022 at 04:57:25 AM

To an outsider, every place harbors its share of unusual aspects. Every country, region, state, province, city, town, and neighborhood have their own unique customs and traditions, many of which might fascinate, confuse, or amuse visitors.

New Orleans is, of course, no different in that regard. But like most people (if not all), I didn’t recognize such oddities while growing up among my fellow New Orleanians. I just assumed everyone spoke and acted the way we did, taking most of our regional expressions for granted.

a peaceful afternoon in New Orleans

Didn’t all humans say they were “making groceries” whenever they ran to the store? Wasn’t it commonplace to savor so-called “dirty” rice, order a “dressed” po-boy at a restaurant, enjoy “sno-balls” (not snow cones) during the hot, humid summer months, and refer to all soft drinks as “Coke” (even if you specifically wanted an orange soda or root beer)? Didn’t everyone call crawfish (or crayfish) “mudbugs,” yell “Who Dat!” at their hometown football games, visit their loved ones in aboveground cemeteries, and use the French word “lagniappe” to describe an extra perk?

a plate of boiled crawfish (or mudbugs)

Naturally, it didn’t take me long to realize that such sayings weren’t, in fact, universal. As soon as I entered elementary school and began learning about other states, countries, and cultures, I recognized how greatly people and places varied around the globe. Though I appreciated such diversity – and loved traveling to foreign lands as a child – I admit that such exposure only heightened the respect for my own cultural eccentricities.

Over the course of three centuries – since the founding of New Orleans in 1718 – an organic mix of European, Caribbean, and American influences helped to forge a community like no other. Alternately known as the Crescent City, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot, the Birthplace of Jazz, Hollywood South, Crawfish Town, and so many more colorful monikers, this incredible locale boasts a plethora of delicious cuisine, extraordinary music, picturesque architecture, and vibrant festivals, events, and activities.

French Quarter Fest, one of our favorite local events

Today, I proudly wear the mantle of a native New Orleanian – and my husband, Dan, is an equally passionate adopter of the Big Easy’s expressions and traditions.

To help you blend in with the locals – or at least better understand them – Dan and I have compiled a list of 10 things you might hear or see while exploring the French Quarter, the rest of New Orleans, and other parts of southern Louisiana (and, in some cases, even other U.S. states).

  • BRAKE TAG: an annual sticker of validation certifying that your vehicle has been inspected and meets all of Louisiana’s traffic and manufacturing laws
  • GALLERY: a second-floor balcony that covers the sidewalk, especially common in the French Quarter
Galleries are prevalent throughout the French Quarter.
  • GRIS-GRIS: (pronounced GREE-gree) a voodoo good-luck charm
  • HAINT BLUE: a specific shade of pale blue paint visible on the underside of many porch ceilings throughout New Orleans, used to symbolize water and meant to prevent evil “haints,” or ghosts, from entering the premises
  • NEUTRAL GROUND: the grassy part between the paved areas of a boulevard; also known as a “median”
  • PARISH: the official term for a county in Louisiana
  • ROMEO SPIKES: 19th-century, cast-iron protrusions along gallery and balcony polls in the French Quarter, meant to deter male suitors from shimmying upward for unauthorized, nighttime visits to young women
Romeo spikes, a gruesome form of home protection
  • SHOTGUN HOUSE: a one-level structure whereby all rooms are positioned consecutively, front to back, and interconnected by doors in lieu of a hallway
  • SLAVE QUARTERS: an outdated term for a smaller, often two-story house situated behind a street-facing mansion or large plantation home, common in the French Quarter; more often called a “rear cottage” nowadays
  • VIEUX CARRÉ: (pronounced VOO kah-RAY) meaning “old square” in French, an apt reference to the French Quarter, the city’s oldest neighborhood, an area known for its upper-level galleries, wrought-iron railings, and hidden courtyards, all ironically influenced by the city’s Spanish era
bustling Royal Street in the French Quarter

So, whether you intend to visit New Orleans someday or just admire the city from afar, I hope this snapshot of our NOLA glossary has given you a bit more insight about my one-of-a-kind hometown.

If you know anyone else who’s curious about the Big Easy, please spread the word about our Kickstarter project – which ends in roughly 12 days. Although Dan and I are ecstatic about how this campaign has unfolded so far, we’d love to hit our next stretch goal ($4,000) – which will enable us to include a bonus haunting (Hotel Monteleone) in The Dark Side of New Orleans (ebook and paperback) AND host an online watch party of a New Orleans-based movie for anyone who pledges a minimum of $10.

And if you’re looking for some other cool publishing projects on Kickstarter, please check out the following two campaigns – BOTH OF WHICH END IN FIVE DAYS!

GODSVERSE CHRONICLES by Russell Nohelty

Godsverse Chronicles: The complete portal fantasy series

Inspired by The Wizard of Oz, Coraline, His Dark Materials, and other portal fantasy books and series, bestselling author Russell Nohelty has created his own impressive mythology via his reality-bending series known as the Godsverse Chronicles. All 12 books are available through this Kickstarter campaign – in ebook or print form, with or without audio commentary and other tempting rewards. So, if you enjoy reading about strong, magical women, gods and myths, Heaven and Hell, and travel to other worlds, dimensions, times, and realities, then this is definitely the project for you!


LOST HIGHWAY by Tom Fowler

Lost Highway: A Military Action Thriller

From bestselling author Tom Fowler comes an action-packed, snark-filled thriller series starring retired soldier John Tyler, who lives with PTSD, his daughter, and an inability to walk away from trouble. If you enjoy reading thrillers with strong, moral characters and poetic comeuppance for the bad guys, then you’ll love this series!


OK, y’all, that’s it for today! Until next time... I hope you have fun, stay safe, and watch out for the dark side!

Sincerely,

Laura Martone

ENJOY OUR NOLA TOURS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!
6 months ago – Tue, May 31, 2022 at 07:55:40 PM

Happy Tuesday to our amazing backers!

It’s been over a week since Dan and I launched our Dark Side of New Orleans campaign, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results so far. With your help, we’ve raised over $3,100 in project funding – and even hit our first stretch goal – so thank you from the bottom of our gumbo-filled hearts! We appreciate your enthusiasm and support – and we’re so grateful for all of you!

And now… a word of clarification.

As you probably know, our French Quarter tours appeal to anyone who’s curious about ghosts, vampires, the Big Easy, or all of the above. Better yet, though, they can even satisfy those who have no upcoming plans to travel to the city of New Orleans.

That’s because our self-guided ghost and vampire tours can be enjoyed by ANYONE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE in the world!

These flexible, immersive tours are available in three different formats – audio, ebook, and print – and while that might ensure three unique experiences, they all have one asset in common: Each comes with the GPS coordinates for every locale on the tour, plus HTML links and QR codes that will lead you directly to Google Street View, where you’ll be able to see the exact location of the spooky spot you’re hearing or reading about.

In this way, you can experience the Big Easy from the comfort of your own home – whether you live in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Australia, or anywhere else in the world. You don’t need to be in New Orleans to “visit” each stop on our ghost and vampire tours. 

No matter where you’re listening to our tours, you’ll be able to "visit" each locale via Google Street View.
Wherever you choose to read these spooky tales, you’ll be able to "visit" each locale via Google Street View.

Right about now, you might be saying, “Duh, Laura. I already get that.” And if so, I apologize for repeating myself. Dan and I have simply received so many queries about the exact nature of our unusual tours that we felt it necessary to provide a clearer explanation.

Of course, if you have any other questions or concerns about our offerings, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about this week’s backer perks. Anyone who pledges at least $10 or more by 9pm EDT on Friday, June 3rd, will receive nine sci-fi ebooks (a $32 value) for FREE!

That means ALL backers who have already pledged $10 or more – even those of you who supported our campaign on the very first day – will be able to access these amazing stories, which include the Book 1 Bundle of The Beyond Saga (Rebecca M. Senese), Bodacious Creed (Jonathan Fesmire), Into the Black (Beth Barany), Lucky Logan (J.R. Frontera), Cross Road Blues (D.L. Martone), Plastic Girl: Evolution (Jessica Maison), Once Upon a Saturn Moon (Edward Antrobus), Canis Borg: Alien Control Agent (James David Victor), and Cold Between Stars (Belinda Crawford).

And while I have you here, please take a moment to check out these other two campaigns – which, like ours, have about 16 days left to go – and please support them, if possible:

Goddess: A Photographer’s Visions of Divine Feminine Art

Bursting with gorgeous, award-winning photos, this striking art book was inspired by all the incredible women with whom Therena Carlin has worked over the course of her career as a professional photographer. More than seven years in the making, this amazing passion project celebrates the beauty, power, creativity, and divine essence of a wide array of female subjects. Truly an art lover’s treasure trove!

The Spinners of Time: Book 1 of dragon-filled fantasy series

From award-winning writer Amy Wolf, this epic fantasy – modeled on ancient Turkey – provides all the magic, romance, and, yes, dragons that could satisfy lovers of such books. For this campaign, she’s offering ebooks, signed paperbacks and hardbacks, custom merch, and more!

Well, that’s it for now, y’all! Thanks for reading this update – and until next time, I hope you have a wonderful week!

Sincerely,

Laura Martone

FIRST STRETCH GOAL UNLOCKED!
6 months ago – Tue, May 31, 2022 at 10:43:24 AM

Well, y’all have gobsmacked us yet again!

Less than a day after asking our marvelous backers to spread the word about our Dark Side of New Orleans campaign, we crossed the $3,000 mark – meaning that, with your assistance, we’re now able to unlock our very first stretch goal! Woohoo!

So, as promised in our last update, we’ll now be including a bonus haunting in The Dark Side of New Orleans (ebook and paperback) – this one featuring Antoine’s Restaurant, America’s oldest family-run eatery.

Established in 1840 and offering scrumptious French-Creole cuisine, Antoine’s is still one of the Big Easy’s finest dining establishments. It’s home to several culinary inventions, including oysters Rockefeller, as well as several resident spirits. (Not surprising perhaps, given the French Quarter’s haunted reputation.)

Antoine's Restaurant in the New Orleans French Quarter

In addition to this extra ghost story, we’re also thrilled to be presenting a webinar-style, ask-us-anything session (via Zoom) to any backer who’s pledged $10 or higher. Although we have yet to schedule the live Q&A, it will likely happen sometime in July. We’ll let you know the exact date and time once the campaign has ended – and if you’re unable to join us then, rest assured that we’ll provide a recording of the fun.

Of course, now that we’ve reached the first stretch goal, we’re looking forward to hitting the others as well. Here are the ones we’ve planned so far:

  • If we reach $4,000, we’ll host an online watch party of a New Orleans-based movie for anyone who pledges a minimum of $10 or backs the DARK SIDE EBOOK tier or higher. We’ll also include a bonus haunting (Hotel Monteleone) in The Dark Side of New Orleans (ebook and paperback).
Hotel Monteleone, one of the finest and most haunted hotels in the city
  • At $5,000, we’ll schedule an online hangout session with us (via Zoom) for anyone who pledges a minimum of $10 or backs the DARK SIDE EBOOK tier or higher. In addition, we’ll include another bonus haunting (The Cornstalk Hotel) in The Dark Side of New Orleans (ebook and paperback).
The Cornstalk Hotel on Royal Street
  • And if our campaign really takes off – and we reach $7,000 – we’ll prepare and send a bonus ebook to anyone who pledges a minimum of $50 or backs the ALL-IN PACK tier or higher. Complete with photos and maps, this ebook will feature a mini-tour of our favorite local graveyard, the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, situated in the Garden District of New Orleans. Founded in 1833, this iconic “city of the dead” lies near the world-famous Commander’s Palace – and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows, including Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Diaries.

Naturally, Dan and I would be delighted to offer all of the above, but no matter what happens in the final weeks of this campaign, you’ve already helped us extend our project’s funding well beyond our expectations – and for that, we will always be grateful!

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

Sincerely,

Laura Martone

LEARN TO TALK LIKE A NOLA FOODIE!
6 months ago – Tue, May 31, 2022 at 10:43:04 AM

Howdy to our wonderful backers! I hope you’re all having a terrific weekend so far. Dan and I sure are!

That’s because, since our last update, you’ve helped us more than double the funding for our Dark Side of New Orleans campaign – and we couldn’t be happier – or more grateful for your support.

As of this moment, we’re less than $280 from our first stretch goal. So, now seems like the perfect time to share the good news: If our campaign reaches the $3,000 mark, we’ll present a webinar-style, ask-us-anything session (via Zoom) to anyone who backs the DARK SIDE EBOOK tier (or a minimum of $10) or higher.

Additionally, we’ll include a bonus haunting (featuring Antoine’s Restaurant, which was established in 1840 and now serves as America’s oldest family-run restaurant) in The Dark Side of New Orleans (ebook and paperback).

To thank y’all for helping us exceed our wildest funding expectations, we’re offering you a sneak peek of our NOLA glossary and pronunciation guide, a digital goodie that all backers are eligible to receive. Given that it’s a fairly exhaustive list of helpful terminology, we’ve decided to focus on one of the most celebrated aspects of New Orleans culture: the cuisine.

So, here are just some of our favorite Big Easy delectables – and how to pronounce them:

ANDOUILLE (an-DOO-ee): a spicy, smoked pork sausage prepared with garlic and Cajun seasonings and used in dishes like red beans and rice, gumbo, and jambalaya

BEIGNET (ben-YEY): a squarish, fried pastry made from doughnut batter and sprinkled with powdered sugar

CAFÉ AU LAIT (KAF-ey oh LAY): a hot drink made equally of coffee (usually coffee with chicory) and steamed milk

It’s hard for us to resist the beignets & café au lait at Café du Monde.

COURT-BOUILLON (KOOR-boo-YAWN): a Creole-style, tomato-based bouillabaisse, or seafood stew, the most popular version being redfish court-bouillon

JAMBALAYA (juhm-buh-LAHY-uh): a Cajun or Creole rice dish usually containing celery, onions, tomatoes, and spices, plus chicken, sausage, and/or seafood

MUFFULETTA (muhf-uh-LET-uh): a round, oversized sandwich made from Italian bread, ham, salami, mortadella, provolone, and olive salad; also spelled muffaletta

Café Maspero serves our favorite muffuletta in the city.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little taste of New Orleans – there’s certainly more to come during the next three weeks! Until then, if you’d like to help us make our first stretch goal happen, please spread the word about our campaign.

And if you’re reading this update as a follower, please consider becoming one of our treasured backers. The more help we receive, the more extras we can provide – and we’re so excited about all the goodies we have planned.

Naturally, we hope you are, too!

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll send you another email soon – with a few details about our other stretch goals as well as our next set of backer perks. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. And to my fellow Americans… Happy Memorial Day!

Sincerely,

Laura Martone