Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

RT Convention 2014 – New Orleans – Part II

In between RT sessions, we all went out to explore the wonderful French Quarter of New Orleans, obviously an absolute must-see for anyone visiting the town.

For someone who loves history and old houses, it was a complete gold-mine!  Street after street with old-fashioned houses, covered in wrought iron balconies, window shutters and hanging baskets.  Ornate doorways and hidden courtyards, old paving stones worn smooth by thousands of feet, mimosa and acacia trees, intricate verandahs and porches …  I couldn’t stop taking pictures and here is a small selection – believe me, I have lots more!

Music – mostly in the form of various types of jazz – is of course very much a part of the New Orleans ambience.  Not just in the bars and cafes, but on every street there were musicians and buskers and wherever you went, your feet were tapping.  On one street corner a group of kids were doing proper tap-dancing (the youngest surely no older than three and such a sweetie!).  A group of Christians sang out their messages on another, and late on Saturday night we came across a wedding party dancing their way down a street in the wake of a marching band – fascinating!

Beignets

The local food had to be sampled and I did my best to try all the specialities – gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, crawfish cakes and even alligator.  And the absolute favourite – beignets.  I left the cocktails to others, but loved the names like ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Blue Bayou’ 🙂

Magic and voodoo featured hugely in all the shops, so a visit to one of the cemeteries became another must.  We saw the grave of the supposed ‘voodoo queen’ and knocked on it three times (to gain her attention) before leaving an offering.  The cemetery was a very evocative place, with some of the graves and monuments crumbling, while others were brand new.  A lot of French names added a distinctly Southern flavour.

So many impressions crowd my mind – the heat and humidity, the Southern drawl sprinkled with “y’all” in every other sentence, the friendliness of everyone, the vibrant colours and insistent beat of the famous Bourbon Street at night, the beautiful street cars (trams), sparrows stealing crumbs at café tables, the paddle steamboat, crudely made voodoo dolls and Mardi Gras bead necklaces, Café du Monde …  I think I might just have to go back in order to absorb it some more!

Bourbon Street at night

Bourbon Street balcony

Marching band for wedding party

Bride and groom dancing

Jazz band

Mardi Gras beads

Voodoo queen's grave

Cemetery

Cheeky sparrow

Cafe du Monde

Paddle steam boat

Streetcar

Mimosa tree

Lovely balcony seen from inside restaurant

Voodoo doll

Sue Moorcroft and I with a Stormtrooper! (found in a NO bar)

Romantic Times Convention 2014 – New Orleans – Part I

Laissez les bon temps rouler! – let the good times roll – was a phrase I saw and heard over and over again in New Orleans during the past week, and we definitely did!  This year’s RT Convention was bigger than ever before and even more fun!  At least after we ironed out a few initial glitches (which all had to do with airlines and shipping rather than the convention itself, I have to stress) …

Having attended RT last year, I was really looking forward to going back and it was great to know what to expect this time.  I’d booked my spot in ‘promo alley’ and packed a lot of UK goodies for a gift basket to be raffled, plus I’d spent ages putting together some swag – in other words, I came prepared!  Unfortunately our flight from London was delayed and we missed our connection to New Orleans from Washington, and for some reason our bags were sent to Chicago and stayed there for two days.  Not ideal!  Just as we were beginning to despair, though, they all turned up in time with the swag intact – phew!

The Choc Lit author team this year consisted of myself, Sue Moorcroft, Janet Gover, Liz Harris, Beverley Eikli and Kate Johnson.  We had a very British table as our base and took turns to sell books there and chat to attendees, which was lovely!  I don’t suppose anyone can have missed the fact that we were from the UK, with all those flags 🙂 (and some lovely mini koalas and kangaroos to show that we had two Aussie authors as part of the group of course).

Me, Liz, Kate and Beverley

We did a panel talk about heroes & heroines and how to create a spark between them, held a ‘tea party’ for booksellers and librarians plying them with proper English tea and shortbread, and we attended lots of talks, workshops and parties between us.  It was all huge fun!  I particularly enjoyed the ‘Call my Historical Bluff’ session devised by Susanna Kearsley and her friends, which featured some fiendishly difficult words.

In between, we explored the French Quarter of the city, which was just outside the hotel, and it was so beautiful and fascinating, I’ll have to do another post with pics of that tomorrow!

I’ll just leave you with some photos from the Convention and of the view from our room – the mighty Mississippi river in daylight, at night and close up (very muddy!).  I was reminded not to go swimming in it in case I came across an alligator.  The only way I wanted to meet one of those was in a restaurant – deep fried and delicious!

Mississippi - early morning

Mississippi - at night

Muddy water of the Mississippi

Me with the lovely winner of my raffle gift basket

Preparing for the Choc Lit tea party

Saints & Sinners party

Saints & Sinners goodies

Even dogs were allowed to dress up!

Me with a dragon friend!

Gator bites!

Voodoo queen?