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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary, It's an Almost-Royal #Book Birthday!

What a week to celebrate! Tomorrow, February 18th, is the three year book birthday for The Crown for Castlewood Manor, the first book in my cozy mystery series! Who knew that three years on I'd be preparing for the 6th book's release? In honor of #TheCrown I thought it would be fun to go back in time to my first #blog post on this story and update my nouveau #author views then, with a 2021 perspective. Today we're talking about main character Gemma...💖👑

From March 11, 2018 (don't ask me why, but 3 years ago I was obsessed with having a boot for each of my characters...)

I thought for today’s post I’d introduce you to my main character and fictional muse, Gemma. I’ve had the pleasure of “knowing” Gemma Lancaster Phillips, PhD, for some time now. Gemma is the main character and sleuth in the My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. The series begins with The Crown for Castlewood Manor, where the 27 year old American heiress from Malibu goes to England to assist her ancestral family cousin Evan Lancaster, 8th Marquess of Kentshire, to compete in an estate competition being held to determine the set location for the upcoming period drama television series, Castlewood Manor. Evan’s estate, Cherrywood Hall, has made it to the final four estates being considered.

Gemma is a true California girl, tall, long blond hair, athletic and smart. She’s an heiress, but doesn’t want to be known as a trust fund baby. Gemma followed her father David’s academic path and wrote her doctoral dissertation on “Twentieth-Century Reunification of British and American Aristocratic Families with the Influx of American Heiress Inheritances.” That’s a big title, but Gemma is very proud of the fact that her ancestral Aunt Pippa brought the feuding factions of her American and British Lancaster family together when she married her distant, cousin Charles, the 4th Marquess of Kentshire, and became known as the American, almost-royal cousin. She loves the history of the early twentieth century and is an avid fan of the fashions and cultures of the period.

Gemma is very close to her mother Jillian, “Ma-ma”, an American actress. Jillian and Gemma have maintained close ties with their English relatives, Evan, and his mother Margaret through-out the years. They are the last of the Lancaster's and have forged a loving, supportive relationship. Aunt Pippa would be proud that her descendants have continued the Lancaster British-American family bond.

So why would Gemma leave her cozy Malibu beach cottage and put her career plans on hold to go over to England to help her cousin? I think Gemma is unsure of what she wants to do with her career. Being an heiress, she doesn’t have the financial pressures that hasten a career decision that most of us have when we graduate. Should she teach? She’s been offered professorships at leading universities, but that doesn’t seem to be her calling, at least not for now. Finding out about her cheating boyfriend hasn’t been a big boost to her ego either. A fresh change of scene is just what this PhD needs.

Gemma wants to support her cousin Evan of course, but she is drawn to going back to the ancestral home, Cherrywood Hall, learning more about her British family–especially the beloved Aunt Pippa, and delving into the competitive world of producing a television period drama series. Gemma is taken aback when she receives a few highbrow snubs for her American heritage–what would an American know about British estates or period dramas? Gemma quickly responds with her good ole American gumption and know-how, no shrinking flower here! Speaking of which, will romance blossom for Gemma once more?

February 17, 2021 (Okay, the boot obsession is still real today--I think Gemma would rock these gold studded booties in 2021...)

Loads of major life events for Gemma these past three years! I think it's fair to say that Gemma was instrumental in securing the Castlewood Manor set location win with her Cousin Evan and Kyle. She still loves her fashion, family history (and oh, that log dropping, sparks flying, opinionated Auntie Pippa!) and the rooms of the family estate, Cherrywood Hall. She's found her career niche coordinating the marketing and business operations between the estate and the Castlewood Manor franchise. Let's not forget the #food, one must keep up one's strength when sleuthing and discovery the odd, ahem, body or two...She's held her own quite nicely dealing with many a crazed person these past years: revenge driven actors; royals with a few gems loose; jealous aristocrats; and a few lovesick loonies! Life in the #cozymystery lane!

Gemma's mama, actress Jillian Phillips (yes, these are 'her' boots◀) has settled in nicely as the reigning period drama queen. It's not all ball gowns and red carpets though. Jillian has been in the throws of death defying moments more than once in the last few books. She's found a new love as well--will it bloom into something permanent?

Let's move on to Kyle...💕🔽

Oh, where to start--from the first time Gemma and Kyle met, sparks were in the air! This tall, dark and handsome knight (w/o the shining armor, more Ralph Lauren, definitely) has been by Gemma's side through thick and thin, as their romance took root and grew. From hot air balloons to the icy Silfra Fissure, love is never dull with Gemma and Kyle❣

Life has certainly come full circle for Gemma--Marchioness of Kentshire, wife, and now mummy of twins. I hope you have enjoyed this almost-royal journey as much as I have. It's luxury life escapism, which in this day and age I know I look forward to as a welcome retreat. Many, many thanks to all of you who have supported me and read my books. I cannot tell you how much getting to know you has meant to me. Writing became a life changing event for me, and like Gemma, I can't wait to see where it takes me (us) next!

Crowns and Kisses 💖👑 It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

💖👑My American Almost Royal Cousin Series👑💖

With the sixth book in the series in editing, I can't wait for it's release! I've been busy putting together new marketing materials, campaigns and ads for this next release (a #writer's job is never done). I have one question for you--should the release date be March 31st or, April 1st--is an April Fool's release date totally bonkers? It is 2021...I'd love to get your opinion--please leave a comment! #ThankYou

A #posthumous perspective this week from the writers of Twitter...

Author C.A. Larmer, Do Not Go Alone: A Posthumous Mystery, 5

For twenty-something, former personal assistant Maisie, the party at her parent's house turns out to be her final one--in the land of the living anyway. As her spirit hovers above, she sees that she's been shot, her body lying lifeless on the study floor. Now the question is, whodunit?

Friends and family are shocked and distressed, but not as much as the deceased. Maisie's spirit is on the case as she examines their post-Maisie death feelings and emotions. She knows she's a kind, young woman--who would want to kill her? Jealous friends, envious brothers, devious party guests and angry neighbors may have a motive. As the police investigate, Maisie comes to realize her life was not quite as she remembered.

Author Larmer spins a unique twist in this afterlife mystery. We see the struggles and emotions come to light as Maisie remembers the events of the evening and life changing moments. Will the killer/cause of death be revealed, or will Maisie remain in an afterlife limbo? An intriguing read, one that will keep you guessing!

Next up in the #reading queue:

Join us for our #BOOKEM YouTube chat today!

Today I'm totally chuffed to be on deck with fellow author and editor extraordinaire, Theresa Snyder! We're talking all things editing and marketing and Theresa has some great tips! Tune in #WritingCommunity!

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

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. Since it's a book birthday week for The Crown for Castlewood Manor, the first 5 people to post a picture on my Twitter handle @VClinebarton with a picture of my book on your shelf or kindle will receive one of these lovely almost-royal silver spoons! Gemma most definitely approves! 💖👑

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Feb 17, 2021

Congratulations and happy 3rd birthday to the My American Almost-Royal Cousin series! Great books! See you this afternoon on BookEm, V! <3

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