Veronica’s #WritersDiary, #Lockdown Life Bits & #Pieces

Well hello #May! Another day (and likely month), in #lockdown paradise. It’s been interesting watching the news this week–the protestors are out and they are not happy, everyone is feeling the squeeze of living in lockdown. I sympathize for many–I’m sure the economics of the situation is causing angst for many, as well as the shear boredom and collective outrage of not being able to be out and about. The current situation is not sustainable for much longer IMHO. I hope people continue to keep their guard up and watch the numbers and hot spots in their communities—erring on the side of caution for their activities. I’ll let it go at that. So for now, on to more entertaining (though perhaps a tad trivial in the total scheme of things) bits and pieces

I’ve been catching up on some new shows this week. One in particular is Julian Fellowes’ (the creator of my beloved Downtown Abbey) show, Belgravia. I had mixed thoughts when I started watching–I mean after #DA, it would be hard for one to like another show as much, LOL. But I did give it a go and have been pleasantly surprised. The setting is the early 1800s and focuses on families living in the aristocratic development of Belgravia in London. I’m loving the costumes and architecture, and the plot is full of societal twists and turns and ‘salacious’ (well, for the 1800s) schemes. To my delight, in episode 3 we followed the characters on a walk in Kensington Gardens, which happened to be filmed at my favorite my favorite royal abode, Hampton Court Palace! (The feature pic in today’s post shows the very spot for the walk). For today’s pics, I thought I’d take us back to HCP and its beautiful gardens, enjoy!

I can’t wait to get back there one day and stroll along the many garden paths. It’s a beauty for sure and very much missed by this almost royalophile (my new word). It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

double trouble cliff promo

#AmEditing

Oh baby–the final edits are in and I’m working to resolve the last minute content/grammar/dialogue changes. I’m super excited too that feedback is rolling in from a few of my beta readers and it’s pretty excellent!

I’m pleased to announce that I will be using Mark Schultz’s #Wordrefining services for a final proofing–he always catches something! Check out his services here:

https://www.wordrefiner.com/

go away reading

#AmReading #AmReviewing

A peek at the afterlife and what happens next from the writers of Twitter this week…

Author Kerri Davidson, Soul’s Choice, 5 STARS

A mother’s death and passage into the afterlife leaves her daughter and husband in limbo on Earth as they try to figure out what to do with their lives. Writer/mother Amelia dies unexpectedly in a tragic accident. She watches her family’s movements, witnessing the pangs of their despair and floundering, unable to help them from her perch in the beyond.

Teenage daughter Amy struggles with her self esteem, feeling listless in her life after her mother’s passing. She’s eating herself into oblivion, trying to dull the pain. Her police officer father, Jason, is lost as well, missing his wife and having no idea what to do with his daughter. He proposes a move back to his home town so that Amy can be around family members, but will the move ease their pain and open a door to the living again?

Author Davidson takes us on a unique paranormal journey into the afterlife as Amelia explores her soul’s options and witnesses the heartbreaking events of her family’s struggle back on Earth. Things appear to get better, but life (and death) always seems to present twists and turns that can suck the spirit out of you. Soul’s Choice is a page turning read, with an original twist I think is quite brilliant. I cannot wait to read the sequel–highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

saddle bar stool crown

Okay, yes I did…

The credits cards are smokin’ in #QuarantineLife, and I’m looking for all things inspirational. Lo and behold, I found a metal bar stool shaped like a western saddle that I just had to have, LOL! It’s going to be great taking this seat for a twirl, wearing my crowns and boots of course–pics later (well maybe…). #UhOh

Welcome to my writer’s world. Enjoy your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. To all the ‘Mama’s’ out there (including sisters, grandma’s, step-moms, aunties, friends etc etc etc), wishing you a very #HappyMothersDay this coming Sunday! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 🙂

pink rose flower

 

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, I Love the #Night Life???

I’m gonna boogie as much as I can these crazy nights (and days), LOL. My sleeping schedule has been totally blitzed these past months as I’ve plowed through the writing of my fifth book to keep occupied (and somewhat sane). I’ve also experienced the ‘social anxiety’ the #quarantine lockdown has brought to us all. Whether you feel it or not, the angst of this situation is affecting us–whether through insomnia, depression, listlessness, confusion (what day is it?), feelings of isolation…it helps of course to get out when you can, abiding by the social distancing rules that are in place for your location. We only go out when necessary and have adjusted our lives accordingly. For me, I am up at all hours these days and have been trying to enjoy my newly formed ‘night life’. The cats don’t quite know how to take my new hours (I’m such a rebel 🙂 ), but as long as they are fed when I go downstairs, they seem to have acclimated to the erratic schedule. I thought for this post I’d pull out some of my favorite nighttime pics before the #quarantine for you to enjoy…

Hearst Castle Twilight Holiday tour, December, 2019

View of the London Eye from the Marriot County Courthouse on the Thames, sunset view of Big Ben and the Parliament building, May 2019

Catalina Island, Hamilton Cove and view of the Casino, July, 2019

Las Vegas, Paris Hotel Eiffel Tower, view of the volcano in front of the Mirage Hotel, August, 2019

I wonder if I’ll ever get back to a normal routine–although these days/nights I question what is normal? This I do know, I have a new appreciation for the many things I took for granted, or didn’t even take the time to notice before the #lockdown. I hope as our societies start to emerge from this unprecedented situation, we all take a moment to say hello and oneday give a hug to others. Most of all, I hope we can appreciate the luxury of non-quarantined freedom. It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Double Trouble comedytragedy masks

#AmEditing and Loving My New Book Promo Graphics! 

The editing of Double Trouble Showtime at Castlewood Manor is going swimmingly–thank goodness some things don’t stop during quarantine #lockdown! I have to thank Theresa Snyder once again for her tremendous insights and suggestions. I am loving this story more and more, and much of it is due to her guidance and inputs. If you’re writing and are looking for editing services, I highly recommend speaking with Theresa. You can check out her services here:

http://affordableproofedit.blogspot.com/

In addition to the editing not being quarantined, neither is the design of new book promo graphics! Author/Designer Ellie Douglas has worked her magic and has come up with some great new materials for me to use in marketing and promoting my books. I’ll show some of the favorites–what do you think? You can check out Ellie’s design services here:

https://www.authorellie.com/

a young girl reading fragonard 1771

#AmReading #AmReviewing

Heartbreak and suspense from the #writers of Twitter this week…

Author C.A. Asbrey, Innocent Minds, The Innocents Mystery Series Book Five, 5 STARS

A heartbreaking loss brings Abi and Nat’s relationship and sanity to the edge of oblivion in Author Asbrey’s fifth book in her The Innocents Mystery Series. A revenge fueled act inflicts horrific pain and sorrow beyond the imagination to those who dared to challenge their evil deeds. Abi is forced to make a decision that may change the future of her relationship with Nat forever.

Pinkerton agent Dr. Vida Cadwallader arrives on the scene to help her ailing friend, risking the wrath of Nat and Jake as she disappears with Abi to seek an unorthodox treatment in an asylum. Will these treatments work? Or will Abi succumb to her sorrow? Mysteries abound with the patients and doctors, revealing many secrets. In an unexpected twist, will these dark clues help Jake reunite him with his missing love and children?

Trust, collaboration and an undying love hold the human spirit together in this latest tale of heartbreak and mystery. I am a huge fan of Author Asbrey’s series, and this book did not disappoint. A great read, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

I wanted to take a minute to air a grievance I am currently having with Amazon regarding my book reviews. I purchase all the books I read and review with my own funds. I do not charge for book reviews, nor do I expect anything in return. I use Amazon links to the books I read and review on this blog, and in the tweets and posts I make on social media. In 2 instances this past month, Amazon has not let me publish my reviews on their site. I have launched a protest weeks ago, but to date have not received any response from them. I’m going to give them a #quarantine break for the time being, for not getting back to me, but once things do return to normal and this situation continues, I will be reevaluating my continued efforts. Let’s hope these 2 omissions were a fluke and will be corrected. This saga continues…unfortunately.

Savoy American bar

London Dreamin’, The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel 

Believe it or not, living in #lockdown, I am actually working on Book 6 in My American Almost Royal Cousin Series! Call me cray-cray, but since I likely have at least another month to go in quarantine, I’ve begun planning out the next sequel. This story will take place in London as Gemma looks for new city digs for her family…I have a hunch she and Kyle just might be stopping at the fictional Beauchamp Hotel during their stay, which has a very close resemblance to the Savoy, #JustSayin. For my preparation research (#PR), I thought I’d dust off the cocktail recipes from this luscious bar that just might find their way into this next story, and perhaps even partake in a sample or two….enjoy!

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Welcome to my #writer’s world. Enjoy your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Hope you are hanging in there and are staying well. The month of May starts on Friday, and with it a fresh new start for many of us as we transition back into social activities (I may even be able to get my roots done next week, yay!). Gemma and Rikkhe definitely approve! 🙂

HCP garden glowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, It’s #Quarantine #Step Mania!

Bonjour–top of the morning to ya! This past week, I watched a video clip from MSN/Inside edition where a man in the UK ‘climbed Mt. Everest’, well, actually, its equivalent height, by walking up and down his home staircase. Since I have been suffering from a severe case of couch potato-itis the past month or so, I decided that I am going to take on this brilliant challenge, and hopefully lose the poundage that has piled on during this #quarantine so that I can fit through the door when #lockdown is lifted, LOL. I found this delightful article from Mpora that actually details how many steps/flight of stairs it take to do a climbing equivalent to these great landmarks:

Climbing Everest At Home | How Many Steps To Climb The World’s Highest Mountain?

Big Ben (96 m) – 632 steps / 42 flights
Great Pyramid of Giza (146 m) – 1,002 steps / 67 flights
Blackpool Tower (158 m) – 1,036 steps / 69 flights
Eiffel Tower (324 m) – 1,665 steps / 108 flights
Burj Khalifa (828 m) – 2,909 steps / 160+ flights
Snowdon (1,085 m) – 7,120 steps / 475 flights
Ben Nevis (1,345 m) – 8,810 steps / 587 flights
Mont Blanc (4,810 m) – 30,520 steps / 2,028 flights
Everest (8,842 m) – 58,070 steps / 3,871 flights

Now, not everyone is up to climbing to great heights, but I thought I’d share some of my favorite lofty scenes for those who might be inspired (the feature pic was from Lake Louise with the Ice Castle winning sculpture):

Scenes from Teton National Park, December, 2019

Views of Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies last February, 2019

Tennessee Foothill Parkway Scenes, January, 2020

Big Bear Mountain, October 2019

The final #step challenge I was most wowed with came from another fine gent from the UK who pledged to walk 100 laps around his garden terrace using his walker, before his 100th birthday, raising funds for the NHS. Congratulations WWII Captain Tom Moore, he completed his task, and raised a staggering £25+M for the NHS in the process. #Welldone, Sir! It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

MC pram with book mockup Double Trouble

#AmEditing and #AmMarketing

I’m deep in the #editing zone this week, head down and making those changes! This is not a favorite phase of the writing process for me, but in the end it makes such a big difference to the story content and having a clean manuscript. Thanks again to Theresa Snyder for her fabulous contributions and suggestions!

I’m using this #lockdown time to overhaul my book marketing plans. I’m working with fellow writer and book promo designer extraordinaire, Ellie Douglas. In addition to her terrific horror tales, she also provides services to the #WritingCommunity, including promotional materials, banners, and book cover animations. Check out her website and tabbed services here:

https://www.authorellie.com

go away reading

#AmReading #AmReviewing

A mystery murder club members become the hunted this week from the #writers of Twitter…

Author Victoria Benchley, The Marsden Murder Club, Swiss Revenge, 5 STARS

A murderer is released from prison, anxious to return to his former luxurious lifestyle. When he finds he is now scorned by his so called friends, he decides to extract revenge on those he feels doomed his life. Members of the Marsden Murder Club are involved in deadly accidents—is there a connection?

Teacher Charlotte Swain, is contacted by Bunny Childs to attend a meeting of the club in Switzerland. She’s torn, her deceased father was once a member of this club, will she be able to overcome her resentments of him abandoning their family? Her curiosity roused, she decides to attend, and meets the other members of the club, who each possess special forensic and detecting skills. They’re on a mission to find out who is killing their members, but will they be able to stop the fiend before he or she kills again?

A romantic liaison  with member Mick blossoms as deadly threats to Charlotte’s life occur more frequently. Does she follow her heart, or will her instincts lead to a horrendous discovery? Author Benchley’s book is page turning thriller filled with twists and turns to the very end! I’m so glad this is a series–I will be back for more! Highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

 

wine tile 2

Well, ‘Wine’ Not? Vino Tips from Viking Cruises!

Removing the cork, how to taste your grape libation, the proper way to capture the fragrance of the grapes, which wine to serve for what food–enjoy this 10+ minute overview on all things wine!

https://www.vikingrivercruises.com/video/all/play.html?id=14024&contid=30019558729

A Red, White and Blue Twinkle Light #Quarantine Salute!

It doesn’t take much of a twist to our arms here in the Barton abode to put up twinkle lights for all seasons, but we wanted to pay tribute to some special folks as we await the lift of the #lockdown. This past week hubby has set all inside lights to the red. white, and blue to honor all those workers who have risked everything to keep the country going during these #pandemic times. We are very grateful, thank you!!

Welcome to my writer’s world. Wishing you a safe, healthy #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Just received notice that the #Bouchercon2020 mystery conference planned for Sacramento in October has been cancelled as a cautionary measure. So sad, it is a great #writer’s event, and I was very much looking forward to it. But, there’s always #Bouchercon2021 to be held in New Orleans!  Stay tuned! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 🙂

https://www.bouchercon2021.com/

bouchercon2021

 

 

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, What’s the First Thing You’re Going To Do?

Although we don’t have any firm dates, we have been told there is a light at the end of this #quarantine tunnel. I’m not sure that I believe it yet, but let’s hope in fact it’s true. I don’t think we’ll have a mass ‘open for business’ day, certain parts of the country are still in a pretty bad way. But let’s say, around the beginning or middle of May, we can start to resume at least some of the activities I know I took for granted. What will you do first? I plan to take a drive along the coast to listen to the waves and feel the sea breeze against my cheeks. I’m putting my little convertible top down, listening to some groovy tunes from the 70s (loudly), and enjoy being in a place I love. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite beach scenes–until I can get there in person and take more, enjoy!

View of Santa Barbara coastline from Hwy 154; Sunset in Laguna Niguel

Sunrise, north of Malibu on PCH; Sunset in Cambria

Central coast scene from PCH; Monterey coastal view

Sunset from Port Hueneme; Coastal inlet south of Carmel off PCH

What I’m most concerned about is will I be able to adapt to society once this lockdown is lifted? Thank goodness for social media and ATT, I’ve felt I’ve lived my life these past weeks/months (what day is it?) glued to my cell phone and tablet. Will we still wear masks? Will we ever shake hands with a person again? Will we ever stop talking about disease and invisible enemies and daily death counts/infections flashed on the TV screen? I can’t wait to go to a restaurant for a sit down dinner, dressing up in something other than yoga pants and tees–not so much for the food, but just to hear the sound of people talking and laughing around me, LOL. I have no idea when this will happen, or what new protocols or testing procedures will be needed before you can enter a facility–but I do know this–when the lockdown is lifted, I will be venturing out, and hope to be with family and friends that I’ve missed so much. It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

There's a new nanny in town

#AmEditing and working on #Promo materials!

What a treat to hand over the manuscript for the latest tale to my editor, Theresa Snyder! Double Trouble has left the building and I get to wait and see what the pronouncements will be! You can check out Theresa’s editing and proofing services here:

https://affordableproofedit.blogspot.com/

I’m very excited about my nanny in town character, Figgy McEwen. She’s a Scottish fireball that certainly has livened up the halls of Cherrywood in this tale. McEwen is my ancestral clan, so it has been fun researching some of that Scottish history. You just never know when the spirit will grab you when writing, but grab me, Figgy did!

reading is my superpower

#AmReading #AmReviewing

Self-help from the most unlikely of sources this week from the #writers of Twitter…

Author S.S. Bazinet, Vampires Suck But You Don’t Have To, 5 STARS

No time like the present to take a bit of personal inventory in your life, to see what just might be sucking the life out of you spiritually and mentally!  Author Bazinet’s witty, vampiresque, self help tutorial explores some very serious subjects that we all face in our lives at one time or another. The question is, are you a social vampire that feeds upon the weaknesses or generosity of others, using people for your own gain, or are you a victim, letting yourself by devoured mentally and spiritually?

The choice as it turns out, is yours, but the good news is that you don’t have to suck the life out of others to live your life, and you don’t have to be drained in order to be liked. Identifying the toxic behaviors is a key step, and ridding them from your life the next. This book gives you many helpful hints as to what to look for, and how to step away from the behaviors you no longer want in your life.

I found this book to be an uplifting read in these #quarantine times when I think all of us are reassessing our own behavior, dreaming of how we want to be and act when the lockdown is lifted, and figuring out what we need to do to get there. Its witticisms and charming narrative style make this an easy read that lifts you to recognize harmful habits and behaviors that ultimately confine your spirit. An insightful read for the times, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

Oh Deer!

I am very proud of myself for finally getting around to constructing the 3-D deer head puzzle sculpture I bought in Savannah during our southern #roadtrip last January, B.P. (Before Pandemic). It took me a few tries and fumbles, but in the end I made it. My little #quarantine Hygge project–Rikkhe would approve!

Welcome to my #writer world. Have a peaceful, healthy #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. I’m posting this video sound bite made during our anniversary trip to Las Vegas last August. We were dining at the Paris Eiffel Tower restaurant and had seats overlooking the beautiful Bellagio fountains. I really enjoyed the view, but what I love most about this clip now is the sound of voices in the background, laughing and having fun…one day! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 🙂

Sound up!

 

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, Words of the Season, #Adapt and #Change…

When life hands you lemons….make lemon drops, LOL! I can still remember starting our 2019 cruise and going by the huge O2 stadium in London–it was a sunset I won’t forget. We just found out our May Viking Ocean cruise to Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Estonia and Copenhagen, Denmark has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 #pandemic. We were expecting this given the #pandemic, but it still stings a bit since we were looking forward to it so much. After looking at the options, we rescheduled the cruise for June, 2021. By then, hopefully this crisis will have passed and the world will be up and running once again. Viking has been a wonderful company to work with and I really appreciate their excellent customer service. I thought I’d post a few pics from the ports we visited on the last cruise–I can’t wait for the next trip!

I feel like we’re in a huge transition phase these last few weeks, changing shopping habits, cleaning practices, social distancing…everything we do has been adapted and changed. Masks are the new fashion accessory when we do go out (we’re using paint masks from Lowes and scarves). The mantra for the moment is to stay inside as much as possible the next few weeks as this plague peaks.

This crisis is going to change all of our lives in one way or another–work habits, relationships, school, medical needs, religion, you name it–the time has come to prioritize what works, and get rid of what doesn’t. My one big take-away from this is that nothing is certain. So, pick the things that mean the most to you, doing all you can in the time you have. It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Double Trouble Showtime at Castlewood Manor heart flag background4

#AmEditing

Another week and I’m ready to turn the manuscript over to the professionals. I’ve not been as efficient as I’d like to have been the past few weeks, but the stress of the pandemic impacts you some days worse than others. I’m being kind to myself during this period, and do what I can each day. The good news, is that slowly but surely, it’s getting done…

On the release front, my original plan was to shoot for a June, 2020 launch. Given the current uncertainties, I’m going to hold off for at least a month or so from that date. I don’t think now is the time for a book launch, personally–people have too many other things on their minds as we hold our breath and wait. I want the launch to be a joyous time, when we’re not tethered with the pandemic worries. Stay tuned, updates to follow!

go away reading

#AmReading #AmReviewing

Suspicion and doubts from the #writers of Twitter this week…

Author Brenda Guiton, Suspicion, 5 STARS

Web designer Holly’s life is about to change as she heads to her mother’s villa for a well deserved holiday. A handsome stranger on her flight, Nathan, captures her interests and heart, resulting in a steamy romance and a whirlwind marriage. As they settle in to life at the luxurious log cabin park Nathan’s family owns, Holly finds that all is not what it seems.

Nathan’s surrogate brother, Kyle lurks around the newlyweds every move, causing Holly to question the seemingly close knit family ties. Circumstances lead to wrongful accusations, threatening the fragile bridge of trust in Holly and Nathan’s marital world. Will they be able to overcome the seeds of doubt that threaten their newly founded relationship?

Secrets of the past emerge, revealing years of coverups and deceit. As Holly learns the truth, will she ever be able to trust the man she loves? Author Guiton takes us on a gripping tale of dangerous suspicions at every turn. How well do you know the one you love? A page turning read, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

herbs

Herbs, it’s a good thing!

Hubby decided to freshen up the herb garden from last year and put in a few more containers for me. I love to add fresh herbs to salads, pastas and soups when I cook, nothing better, IMO. Basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, and even a few jalapeno plants were added to our little garden space. We’re getting lots of rain this week, so hopefully they’ll get off to a good start.

Welcome to my #writer’s world. Wishing you a peaceful, healthy week and weekend.

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. During this holy week, I wish you and your families and friends much love and serenity. Gemma and Rikkhe approve!  🙂

Easter flowers

 

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, #AprilFools???

Well hello, April! Is it just me, or have you felt like you’ve been in a continuous April Fools prank/hoax/say it ain’t so #QuarantineLife do-loop for the past few weeks? Rationing toilet paper (so not funny), binge watching Christmas movies on spring weekends (thank you Hallmark Channel), watching the stock market crash and burn (I can’t look anymore), social distancing (anyone, anyone?), washing your hands (my finger wrinkles have wrinkles) and stalking the grocery stores for supplies has become the new norm (Raiders of the Lost Wipes). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be returning to normal (whatever that is) anytime soon. So, for this post I thought I’d try to lighten the mood by sharing pictures I find humorous, and just perhaps might put a hint of a grin on your face too, enjoy!

My fav horse head in Hyde Park; Sign outside of the Bergen airport–don’t they know?

Hot air balloons in Albuquerque; It is real…(I-64 in North Carolina)

I think Ebbie is over #QuarantineLife; love that British pub humor

Eyeballs, Texas (Dallas) style!; Yee-hah! Are we having fun yet? (Jackson Hole)

The good news is that we are getting closer to the end of the quarantine—I don’t know exactly when, a month, two months, but it will come. In the meantime, help yourself to a little extra TLC, you deserve it! We are in weird times, but you’re not alone, it will get better, and one day soon we’ll be in better days. It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

How are your book sales going?

I’m interested in finding ways to promote my books as well as the works of others. I’ve tried price reductions, and that doesn’t seem to motivate much. I’ve heard from other authors who have given away free copies for a limited time–and many have not had great results with that strategy either. I’m interested to hear your ideas on what has worked for you if you’d be willing to share–I’d like to do a blog post on the topic and feature #writers and their #sales strategies experiences. Leave me a comment below if you’d be willing to be interviewed and be featured in an upcoming post. Thank you!

reading is my superpower

#AmReading #AmReviewing

Treasure hunt escapism this week from the #writers of Twitter…

Author Don Johnson, Haiti’s UnderWater City, Dime Store Novellettes, 5 STARS

What a treat to read a ‘real life’ treasure hunter’s tale of adventure, fun, local life, and a little history thrown in the mix to get the blood flowing! Author Don Johnson gives readers a unique perspective of life in the treasure hunter lane with his Dime Store Novellettes. He has a one of a kind narrative style, filled with his insights, observations and 45 years of experience from his world travels that keeps you wanting more.

This adventure starts with the tale of a lost Haitian city, which was felled into the ocean by a deadly earthquake in the 1600s. Rumor had it the city was filled with pirated treasures, but with these adventures comes sharks, more earthquakes and the realities of a nation in poverty. Within each chapter, we explore new areas of the underwater city, live through the dangers first hand (the wigglies), and celebrate when the bounty is found. We also get the behind the scenes experiences of interacting with the locals and abiding by their customs and traditions, all told with respect, humor and joie de vivre spirit.

As Author Johnson explains, his Dime Store Novellettes are “short ‘bookes’ designed to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ in the style of ‘Mark Twain, O’Henry’ and our own creative flavor…” Author Johnson is a treasure hunting adventurer with a heart of gold, offering a unique perspective of what is happening on our planet. This was my first Dime Store Novellette read, but it won’t be my last! A fun, exciting, inciteful read, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue: 

downton abbey cocktail book

Anyone interested in #quarantini recipes?

It certainly seems to be a topic of interest on social media these days–‘is it 5 o’clock yet?‘ seems to have gone with the wind as the cocktail hour is now 4pm, 2pm, well whenever, lol! For those of you who would be interested in a drink from my favorite series, I thought I’d post a few pages of my fav #DA libations, enjoy!

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Welcome to my world. Wishing you a very peaceful, healthy #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Thought I’d sneak in a few ‘pupparazzi’ shots of my favorite little doggie who has captured everyone’s heart at Cherrywood Hall in my upcoming book, Double Trouble. Seems like Teddy is living quite the high #QuarantineLife at the lake. Lucky pooch with his beautiful ‘Mama’ ♥ Gemma most definitely approves 🙂

 

 

 

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, Life in the #Quarantine Lane

My apologies to the Eagles, but this #QuarantineLife is pretty much like life in the not-so-fast lane these days–#CaLockDown (and I’m sure by this post, many more states); #ShelterinPlace, #StaytheFHome, #QuarantineandChill…the lights are on and everyone’s home, LOL. I’ve been getting a kick from reading the tweets and posts by folks who are sharing their funny experiences, thoughts, witty analysis on social media these days–sometimes it takes a crisis to bring out the best of us. (Although a message to those who elect to bare their bits in the Twitterverse–um, that would be a no.) To get this blog party started I thought I’d pull a few of my favorite coastal pics to share:

These were from our #roadtrips last year–our Amtrak coastal trek to San Francisco, driving on PCH north of Malibu, the central coast drive, and lastly beautiful Monterey. I can’t wait to get back out on the road once this #quarantine is lifted.

I’ve been self isolating this past week–off and on cough, slight fever, sore throat. I don’t think it’s the COVID-19 virus, I’ve had no breathing issues and have kept busy every day. Better safe than sorry, #JustSayin. I did want to give a #shoutout to two young women who were in line behind my husband at Trader Joes this past weekend. Hubby was stocking up on a few faves for me (muesli and frozen blue berries–life in the #senior lane). He had four packages of each (they’re small), but was told there was a two/person limit of any one item. The young ladies behind him overheard this exchange and immediately jumped in with, “We’ll get it for him.” This random act of kindness really touched him, and me, when I heard about it. So to those young ladies, and to all of you who reach out and help others during this #quarantine time, A BIG #THANKYOU!! It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Double Trouble Showtime at Castlewood Manor heart flag background4

Double Trouble is Now in #AmEditing Mode!

Oh, how I have laughed and cried this past week. This story has come to a close and wow, I really love this one. As per #cozymystery usual, the good times are always sprinkled with a bit of mur-dah and mayhem, causing many to head to the cocktail bar of course! Gemma has a fantastic psychic nanny who will capture you with her wit and cheeky charm. I also loved working Rikkhe St. Claire into this latest tale. I think I found my new MC’s voice and personality, and I can’t wait to put her front and center in the next book!

So, I’m in editing mode now and will soon engage the professional editing and proofing services of Theresa Snyder and Mark Schultz once again. They are both terrific to work with and add so much to the end product–I could not do it without them. You can check out their services here:

Theresa Snyder (@TheresaSnyder19)  http://affordableproofedit.blogspot.com/

Mark Schultz ( @wordrefiner)  https://www.wordrefiner.com/

go away reading

#AmReading #AmReviewing

The Martian’s infiltrate the earth this week from the #writers of Twitter…

Author H.E. Wilburson, The Lake on the Moon, Volume 2 The Martian Diaries, 5 STARS

It’s 1919, and the Martian drama continues with Author Wilburson’s second volume in The Martian Diaries Trilogy. The menacing tripods have vanished, but a new hazard surfaces; the proliferation of a mysterious Red Weed that threatens to infiltrate and wipe out life as we know it, changing the course of human destiny. Astronomer Ogilvy and his trusted friend George are on a mission to obliterate the weed from the planet, but will their heroic efforts be effective?

Time travel, alternate realities and an evolution conundrum gives the reader/listener plenty to ponder as this SciFi saga unfolds. The story is skillfully narrated, complemented with sound effects and a custom musical score that takes you back in time, allowing the listener to delightfully experience the story events with the characters.

Author Wilburson’s trilogy is a enthralling companion to H.G. Wells War of the WorldsThe Lake on the Moon is an audiobook treat, highly recommended!

https://www.amazon.com/Lake-Moon-Martian-Invades-Diaries/dp/B07V9W7N5P

Lake on the Moon HE Wilburson

Next up in the #reading queue:

victoria albert ball at versailles royal collection trust painting

A bit of #QuarantineLife Travel Courtesy of Google and Viking Cruises–Next Stop, Versailles! 

It certainly looks as if our booked cruise in May is going to be postponed, for how long, who knows? I’m very impressed with Viking Cruise’s emails they’re sending to enable folks do a bit of virtual traveling. I thought I’d share this link with you that has several clips on the history, decor, and art from the stunning Palace of Versailles. Very worthwhile when you have the time, you can check the clips out here:

https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/palace-of-versailles

Welcome to my world. Wishing you a lovely and healthy #week and #weekend!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Special thanks and #shoutout to Hallmark Movie Channel! I’ve really enjoyed the Christmas movie marathon this past weekend! Gemma and Rikkhe approve! 🙂

dogs in red truck xmas

 

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, My 5 #Positive To-Dos for These #Pandemic Times!

Well the world has certainly changed a bit in the past week, #Wowza! Looks like I may have just taken my last #InspirationResearch (IR) trip for a while–flights are canceled, cruises dry-docked, and where has all the #toiletpaper gone? (my sincerest apologies, Peter, Paul and Mary) Now I know this spread of #coronavirus is very serious, and I’m all for staying safe and doing the right thing. I just want to put this in perspective and not give up #living while we wait for this to blow over (which it will, #Fact).

I decided for this post, to keep in the spirit of #optimism (with a bit of campy wit) and share my 5 positive to-dos for these #pandemic times. They’re not for everyone, and probably not that #earthshattering–but I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet (especially the paper towels–if you can lay your hands on them, LOL). Here’s what I’m doing to get through the next few weeks with a #smile on my face:

  1. Since world travel is pretty much at a standstill, I have plenty of pics from our travels I’m going to share on social media–I’m sure you do too! Pick the pics that make you smile, share a beautiful sunset, and let’s all do a bit of virtual traveling! When this is over, I’m hittin’ the road, but ’til then…views from Bergen (feature pic) Laguna Beach, Victoria, Banff, and London…

2. Buying take-out foods, locally: Times are going to be tough for the small businesses the next few weeks+, especially the restaurants. We’re going to see closures and limited working hours enforced. As long as I’m feeling healthy, experiencing no signs or symptoms of being ill (if I do, I will #StaytheFHome, Tweeps, no worries 🙂 ), I’m going to go out to pick up my take-outs. The grocery aisles are pretty cleared out, so what better way to satisfy those #food cravings and help out the local businesses that are trying to stay afloat. Watch for the county shelter at home rules (they are changing hourly)!

 

3. Spring cleaning here I come! The list of honey-do projects is alive and well here at the Barton abode. We’ve actually started working our list–a few weeks back we had some pipes burst, which of course meant cutting holes in the walls to get to the pipes. Since we had to repair the drywall and re-paint, we decided to kick it up a notch in our little bathroom on the first floor. It was actually inspired by my favorite designer and new leading lady, Rikkhe St. Claire, who did a similar #loo look at Cherrywood Hall in the latest story…what do you think? (I’m in love with the black walls 🙂 ) What projects do you have?

black bath loo

4. Recipe time! For the bit of food supplies we have been able to buy at the grocery (and Amazon/WholeFoods online, they deliver–‘IF’ you can get a delivery time!)–I’m on a mission to try out some new flavors to lift our spirits in these #quarantined times (and that probably will include a few #quarantinis…) I’m gathering up the #cookbooks and #reading the recipes–looking for all things #comfort food! Do you have any fav #recipes/#cookbooks you’d like to share?

role of royal food in book2

5. Since we’ve all been told to wash our hands a ga-zillion times, I’ve decided to pull out the big #gloves! And no, they’re not disposable–but they can be cleaned! I don’t get a chance to wear these often, so #pandemic or not, time to bring out the finger #bling!

Fashion to die for blog pic

I guess that’s it for this week. I’ve never been through a global #pandemic before–so we’ll adapt the to-dos as needed the next few weeks. I’m grateful we’re here at home, safe and healthy for now, and that I can still reach out and talk/tweet/post with #friends all over the #world as we go through this #together–that’s a true #blessing. It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary: 

#AmWriting, and almost done!

The latest book is nearing completion! It’s such a huge relief, tinged with a bit of sadness to have the story completed. I truly love this story and it’s always fun to return to Cherrywood Hall, but I hate saying good-bye as this story wraps. But, no rest for the #writer weary,  it’s time for rounds and rounds of edits and proofing!

a young girl reading fragonard 1771

#AmReading

Dark humor from the #writers of Twitter this week…

Author John Dolan, Fun With Dick, 5 STARS

Richard ‘Dick’ Blackheart is sliding through life not as a participant, but someone who prefers to sit on the sidelines, emotionally disconnected, looking from the outside in. His constants in life are his comic books, his love for all things Superman,  a vitriolic sister, a feral cat who graces him with sporadic appearances, his rather dormant companion, Gastric–a friend whose life consists of eating, gaming, laced with bountiful bouts of flatulence, and trying to dodge the carnal encounters with Gastric’s lecherous mother.

Dick’s been in therapy for years after the untimely death of his distant dad and gin guzzling mother, but not even the jogging suit glam of Dr. Finkelstein can crack his emotion proof wall. His one bit of therapy dabble is a book project he’s started, How to Die Alone, Smelly and Unloved, but will he ever complete it?

One fate filled day, Dick’s life changes–his sort-of girlfriend dumps him, he’s fired from his meh job, and he decides to travel to Thailand with Gastric, all in one fell swoop! Dick’s a changed man, a man of steel, determined to follow his destiny–wherever that might lead. Author Dolan takes us on an emotion explosion journey as we witness the unfolding of Dick’s destiny and the eventual exposure of his kryptonite, shielded mind. Wiley wit, dark humor, and bittersweet antics keep you glued to the end. Satire is not dead–a read to put life and its trauma dramas into perspective. The ending will leave you gobsmacked, highly recommended!

Next up in the #audio #reading queue:

Lake on the Moon HE Wilburson

https://www.amazon.com/Lake-Moon-Martian-Invades-Diaries/dp/B07V9W7N5P

 

winchester mystery house skyview mural

Winchester Mystery House, Fun & GooseBumps!

The trip to the Winchester Mystery House last week with writers Bibiana Krall and Emmy Bennett was a very fun time for sure. Walking through the house, there were plenty of chills and oddities that left you shaking your head and giving you goosebumps. When we flew back home, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad for Mrs. Winchester. Her house with its 10,000 windows and 2000 doors (many that led nowhere)–she kept up the mindless builds for 38 years, but is that the way to #live? Food for thought, especially in these #pandemic times. Here’s a few more pics from a great trip:

The famous door to nowhere, and the many types of rooflines….

The stained windows were amazing in the house, along with the wood trim details…

Welcome to my world. Enjoy your #week and #weekend friends! #BeWell

Crowns and Kisses (or do I say elbow bumps now? 🙂 )

Veronica

P.S. #Reading books is a great #quarantine pastime, #JustSayin, here’s a few great #reads to consider from my 2019 summer reading list….Gemma and Rikkhe approve! 🙂

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, #Mystery Mansion #InspirationResearch (IR)

An edgy, paranormal, folklore littérateur ; a mystical, world building, fantasy storyteller; and a slightly older, crown toting, cozy mystery word slinger visit a reputed haunted house–what could possibly go wrong? This week I’ve spent time with fellow #BWFs (Best Writer Friends) Bibiana Krall and Emmy Bennett, for a haunting tour of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. One-hundred sixty rooms on 6 acres; 10,000 windows; 2000 doors; built over 38 years…

The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion in San Jose, California, that was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester. The Queen Anne Style Victorian mansion is renowned for its size, its architectural curiosities, and its lack of any master building plan. It is a designated California historical landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Wikipedia)

We splurged on not only the main tour, but a special trek to see the attic and basement. I don’t know what’s more fun–seeing this historic, rumored to be haunted house, or meeting up with some dear #writer friends I’ve come to know the past few years–reading their books, speaking on the phone, and now visiting in person. I think I’ll take the visit with the #writer friends anytime–more pictures from our visit next week!

Welcome to the Winchester Mystery House®

Don’t forget, next Tuesday is St. Patrick’s Day, where the whole world goes green! I’m once again plugging my favorite Irish coffee recipe–Erin Go Bragh! It’s Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

5 book banner #June2020 2 banner style

#AmWriting #ElevatorPitch

This past week on Twitter, there was one chain that intrigued me. In 25 words or less, you had to give your #ElevatorPitch for your novel. I adore these type challenges, for it forces you to focus on the key selling points for your book. What is going to capture a #readers interest?

Here was my attempt: Trouble is brewing at Cherrywood Hall, as newly titled American marchioness, Gemma uncovers buried royal secrets and sabotage on the film set. And BTW, TWINS!

Okay, I have some work to do…but this is a great way to hone in on the selling points for your book! #AmMarketing, 25 words at a time. What’s your #ElevatorPitch? (25 words or less)  🙂 !

reading is my superpower

#AmReading #AmReviewing

Loves ups and downs and the Irish phantom fantasy continues from the #writers of Twitter this week…

Author D.B. Carter, Ups and Downs, 5 STARS

Business owner Carol is about to have a Valentine’s Day that she won’t soon forget. Her pushy mother is nagging her. Her cat interrupts her dreams. She’s successful and a hard worker, so why isn’t she happy?  One of her main business clients has selected her proposal, but wants to make loads of changes, pronto. She and her assistant Lila, overhaul their design–but will it be enough to secure the deal and avoid having her layoff employees? Just as they’re ready to go to print, their copier is down and out–the new part required won’t get there in time for them to prepare the proposals.

The company located down from them has the same copier—in a now or never move, they decide to ask if they can borrow the needed part. There’s just one problem, one of the company owners is a man Carol used to have a teenage crush on–until she broke his heart. Chaos ensues as they scurry to the last minute to secure the business, but through the rush, Carol reconnects with her childhood love, Jonah, a person she thought was lost to her, forever.

A Valentine’s date is made–but will fate intervene yet again for these long lost loves? Author Carter has once again crafted an endearing story of romance–one that will tug at your heart strings and lift your spirits. A great read, one that keeps you guessing ’til the very end, highly recommended!

 

Author Bibiana Krall, The Rage of Danu (The Irish Phantom Series, Book 3), 5 STARS

A prophecy whose time has come immerses Mary O’Brien-Byrnes in a life and death battle against feuding phantoms who are determined to rule and destroy everything in their path. She must protect her daughter, Jane before a fated destiny pirates her away forever. An epic battle for control is about to ensue, will anyone survive the terror that is arising?

Celtic magic, practicing Druids, scholars, family, journalists, and modern day prayers of the faithful band together to try to prevent the wrath of destruction the prophecy has foretold. As secrets unfold and chaos emerges, a dark spirit from the past tries to help his beloved Mary, but can anyone or anything defy the rage of the immortals?

The battle has begun in Book 3 of Author Krall’s Irish Phantom Series, filled with the magic and mysticism of the epic phantom feud for control. I thoroughly enjoy this series and always am surprised by its twists and turns. A page turning read, highly recommended!

 

Next up in the reading queue:

 

Teddy in crown

Meet Teddy, our little almost royal pup who now graces the halls of Cherrywood!

I have to tell you, I loved the wee pup, Patch, featured in my last book, Mistletoe and Mayhem, Yuletide at Castlewood Manor. In the new book, Double Trouble, Gemma and Kyle are both wanting a dog of their own, and lo and behold designer Rikkhe St. Claire just happens to have the pooch that melts their hearts, Teddy. He hales from Atlanta and now is calling Cherrywood Hall his home. Special #shoutout to Teddy’s ‘Mama’ (xo, Brenda!), for letting her adorable canine enter the #cozymystery world! Ruff!

Welcome to my world. Enjoy your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Enjoy your #StPatricksDay! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 🙂 ♣

Veronica’s #WritersDiary, #SpringTime Wishes, Hello #March!

Time to get those Irish eyes a smilin’ (everyone is an Irish lad or lass in March, lol)! What better way to kick off this lovely spring time month than with song lyrics (courtesy of Roger Whittaker and sung magically by Bing Crosby) that make me smile everytime I hear them:

When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing
When Irish hearts are happy
All the world seems bright and gay
And when Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, they steal your heart away

Of course at the Barton abode, the green lights went up (everywhere)! I’m still on cloud nine after my #bookcover reveal last week. Thank you to everyone for the kind comments and words of encouragement I’ve received!

The feature pic today is one of the stock photos we used for book 2, Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor (watch out for those hot air balloons, #JustSayin). Cherrywood Hall is becoming quite the sparkling wine, sherry and gin distillery in the area. The bright greens of the vineyard countryside in the photo reminded me of our trips to Ireland, where everything always seems to have a hint of green. I pulled out a few of the pics from our cruise last year for you to enjoy:

The sunset pic was from our cruise last May as we headed over to Dublin from England. I’m hoping the next cruise will have the same stunning evening views, they were lovely for sure. Wishing you a fabulous month–its Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Double Trouble Showtime at Castleood Manor on flag background

#AmWriting

I am loving this latest story so much. I adore being back at Cherrywood Hall, it’s become my second home (I wish!). The interesting thing for me is having my two leading ladies, Gemma and Rikkhe, working together on the hunt for clues and ne’er do wells. I’m getting to know Rikkhe’s style and mannerisms a lot better–I’m glad to have her on the case (Gemma is too!).

It’s been fun with this new endeavor, pulling in bits and pieces from the first and second book that tie into this storyline. It’s all about the continuity when you’re writing a series. I’ve done loads of cross referencing this week to make sure I’m consistent. I don’t want any unhappy readers telling me I missed important details! More updates coming….dun-dun-dun…

Book review comment for Mistletoe and Mayhem Feb 2020

The Power of a #BookReview

This past week I was blessed to receive a fantastic 5 STAR review for Mistletoe and Mayhem, Yuletide at Castlewood Manor. It came from a #reader in the UK, ‘Lady Bracknell’. I was absolutely chuffed when I read the review, and honored to receive her comments. #BookReviews are a must have for authors, and to receive one with such high praise made this #writer’s day. Give a #WriterLift–buy a #book, #read it, and leave a #review!

go away reading

#Amreading #AmReviewing

A romantic journey of self-discovery this week from the #writers of Twitter…

Author Soulla Christodoulou, Unlocked, 5 STARS

Helen has reached a dark place in her life that many do not escape. A bitter divorce has obliterated her spirit, leaving her listless in mind and body. As the months pass, her despair grows. A chance encounter with spirit lifting words sets her soul on fire, and reignites her will to join the living again.

She travels to India to fulfill her dreams. The country enchants her spirit with its spicy fragrances, scenic beauty and mindful spirituality. Her companion Anil makes her feel safe and cared for, bringing out emotions she thought were long gone.

On her final night in the area, she attends a family wedding as Anil’s guest. As the dancing and swaying commence, Helen knows she is about to take a new step in her life journey–will it set her free? I loved this short story by Author Christodoulou. The journey of darkness to self awareness tugged at your heart, and slowly brought a smile to your face. A powerful, uplifting, romantic read, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

BV irish coffee recipe

I Always Know When I’m Back at Cherrywood Hall…

Let the cocktails begin, Irish style! I was hoping to get to the Buena Vista in San Francisco next week to sample one of my favorite Irish libations, but alas, the city has pretty much gone on lockdown with the #coronavirus. Not to worry–I pulled out my BV tea towel that gives you all the ingredients and steps to make this yummy cocktail. Plenty of time to practice before St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy 🙂

Welcome to my world. Enjoy your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Stay tuned for next week’s blog. I’m traveling to San Jose for some #writing inspiration (assuming the #coronavirus doesn’t put a crimp in the travel plans)–this time with author’s Bibiana Krall and Emmy Bennett. We’re visiting the haunted Winchester Mystery Mansion and catching up on all things #writing! Gemma and Rikkhe most definitely approve 🙂