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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary: A #Writer's Dilemma; Mixing Tales of Mystery with the Holidays

“Ah, but you must have a Christmas uncomplicated by murder.”

Agatha Christie

Less than two weeks to go 'til Christmas in July! Who's ready to get their summer #HoHoHo on? Let's not forget the scary tale countdown to Halloween--pumpkins will be flying soon, offering loads of marketing tricks & treats! I've focused on Halloween and Christmas because these are probably the two most popular holidays depicted in mystery stories.

As a writer, the dilemma becomes how to tell a tale (for me, cozy or paranormal mystery) and promote it without taking the sparkle and boo away from the revered traditions and celebrations of the featured holiday.

I absolutely love all things Christmas and Halloween. For those of you who have been following me, the final quarter of the year (and even the month of July) is my time to decorate and shine, spiced-up with tales of mystery & mayhem...

In this first month of summer, I'm currently in the midst of editing & writing holiday-themed, mystery tales for Wicked Mist (Book 3 in The Haunted Series, coming #Halloween2022) and A Novel Noel (Book 2 in the Rikkhe St. Claire Hygge & Bisous Holiday Mysteries coming #Christmas2022). No wonder I don't know what season I'm in, LOL! #WritersLife

And, as all self-promoting writers must do; I'm also planning Christmas in July promos for The Crown for Castlewood Manor; Mistletoe & Mayhem: Yuletide at Castlewood Manor; and Christmas Bizarre: Rikkhe St. Claire Hygge & Bisous Mysteries--cozy, mysterious tales set during the season of merry. You'll be hearing from me next month...a lot! 😎🎀🎄

I've been thinking as I write and plan (believe it or not, it does happen on occasion 🤓) about what makes stories set during these two holidays different from my other tales...

I don't think I'm alone in my wonderings, many of the television and book series I follow have tales and episodes set during these two holidays too. It seems, mystery, mayhem, and mur-dah most foul don't get to take a holiday break. So, how do tales of mystery incorporate these holidays, and are they distinct from other stories or shows?

Obviously, Halloween is a bit easier to position the macabre and sinister themes into your mystery works, IMHO... interfusing paranormal, suspense, and folklore tropes into your storylines. You might even say it's rather expected that the ghosts and demons will come out to cause extra-spooktacular mayhem for stories set in this season of boo. It also gives your characters a great excuse to don their fav costumes! (Hey, Martha Stewart even comes out to play at Halloween with her ghoulish eats and drinks🎃 --however, I think Bibiana and I give her a good run with our recipes and cocktail concoctions in the back of The Haunted Series collections). #ItsAGoodThing

Christmas season mystery tales are a bit harder to write, at least for me, not only because of the religious connotations associated with the holiday, but also because it's a time of year when we all finally get to smile & relax a bit more, enjoying the sparkly atmosphere, good cheer, & loaded libations. Do we really want to trip over bodies?

For me, the answer is 'Yes, but...'. When writing, I slip on my furry, elf boots to eloquently tiptoe around paranormal or mur-dah most foul plots set during this season---bad things will happen, but let's not get too grizzly or tread on the Christmas presents, and always end on an upbeat note as a nod to the season! (I am going to take a stand too--the thriller/horror writers need to stay clear of chainsaw/ax wielding or zombie/brain-eating Santas #JustSayin... Some things should remain sacred, give the jolly old elf-in-chief (and readers/viewers) a break!) 🎅🚫🧟‍♂️🧠🪓

The bottom line is that I love to read and watch mysteries set during Halloween and Christmas. I think the holiday infusion softens the naughty and not-so-nice moments in a mystery, giving them a special ambiance from the norm.

I can't wait to see/or read about the characters in festive costumes and attire; eating, drinking, & making merry. It seems more personal, you feel like you're getting to know them a tad better. The holidays add a comforting, seasonal touch to the stories this mystery reader/watcher appreciates. #PartyTime

Do you have fav mystery books or series episodes set during Christmas and Halloween? I'd love to know what you think! It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

A heartfelt thanks for the awesome #bookreviews!

Thanks to the fabulous folks for reading my book and posting a book review! I truly appreciate it and it means so much to a writer! I have to show one ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ #Bookreview from the awesome, Jena Henry Booklover that took my breath doesn't get much better than this! #ThankYou 💖👑

Reviewed in the United States on June 11, 2022

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! This is a Royal (or almost-Royal) proclamation that “Blood on the Vines: Harvest at Castlewood Manor” is the best book in the My American Almost-Royal Cousin Series #7. (Until the next one?) Congratulations to award-winning author Veronica Cline Barton for crafting a series that immerses readers in a dazzling world of colorful characters and scintillating events. If you are keeping up with the series than you know that Lady Gemma was once a young southern Californian woman who was finding herself after graduating with a Ph.D. Her life changed when she went to England to help her titled cousin with his estate. From a perky ingenue, Gemma has developed into a beautiful and charming, capable Marchionness of Castlewood Manor. She has married, had children and enriched her new UK community. She’s also loved becoming an “almost-Royal”. On to “Blood on the Vines”. This book has it all- featuring the estate with manor house and vineyard, and a return of many lovable characters and some new ones. From breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, to late-night snacks, you will delight in all the gourmet treats. And don’t forget the special cocktails! If you like couture and jewels, and real Royals, there are plenty. A charming village fete, a Speak Easy Murder event, weddings, and births will all touch your heart. But watch out for the swift kick to your “soggy bottom”. The book begins with a storm & gale, but Gemma hopes for brighter days. But when a vicious poison pen campaign starts and “mur-duh” follows, everyone is puzzled and aghast. (Except for the sturdy Nanny Figgie.) See if you can find out who is behind this evil. Perfect summer read! Will you want to read it fast, because the events and cozy mystery are so much fun and intriguing? Or will you want to read it slowly, to savor all of the rich details? Or maybe read it twice? I highly recommend this book.


#MurdersWeWrite Suspense/Mystery/Cheap Thrills Poolside!

Join Authors Bibiana Krall, Cynthia Raliegh, Amy Reade and me, Sunday, June 26th at 4 PM EDT in the Murders We Write room on the clubhouse app! Poolside reading! Where the main character becomes the hunted and the mystery becomes not who, but when. What makes/breaks this genre? Is contemporary leaning too graphic to stay mainstream?

Family, food, and fun this week from the writers of Twitter...

Author Stanley Tucci, Taste: My Life Through Food, 5

Imagine sitting across the table from a beloved actor, listening to him tell you about his origins in an Italian food-loving family; his travels around the world experiencing tasty, culinary treats; his joys, losses, and his ultimate triumph? Actor/Director/Author Stanley Tucci invites you to do just that in Taste: My Life Through Food!

In this endearing homage to food and drink, you'll learn the history behind his fav dishes, read the mouth-watering recipes, and get a peek at his heartfelt experiences in dealing with life's ups and downs. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, including one with Meryl S. during a French tour promoting the hit movie, Julie & Julia. A chapter devoted to the Martini (sigh), and a recipe for English roasted potatoes from his wife, Felicity that I cannot wait to try! You'll also need a hanky when reading his terrifying ordeal battling cancer, it tugged at this reader's heart.

Author Tucci takes you on a brief journey to his world, giving you a unique, personal perspective on events and people that have influenced him. His charming devotion for life, family, and food is heartwarming and inspirational. I highly recommend this uplifting read--a Stanley fan's delight!

Next up in the reading queue:

Planning the next adventure...

I don't think the OH and I will be doing another 3000-mile road trip for a while, LOL--my almost royal bottom would protest! My incentive the next few months to finish up my writing is our planned, Viking Ocean cruise to Alaska in September, traveling down the northwestern coast to the inside passage along the Canadian border. (assuming another pandemic doesn't hit or the aliens land #KnockWood)

We'll be on the final cruise of the season, which means cold temps for me, hurrah! This will be another bucket list trip, I've never visited the 49th state--did you know I actually share a birthday with Alaska? It became a state on January 3, 1959--#HolySnowballs does this mean that technically I'm a year older than Alaska??? 😲😜

Welcome to my world. Have a fabulous week and weekend, friends!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. Speaking of holidays, it's beginning to look a lot like...Hallmark #ChristmasInJuly movies!!! They start airing 24/7, June 24th (Friday) and run through the end of July! 🎀🎄 I am so ready to binge! #HoHoHo Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑

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