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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary, What Does Your ☠#Garden☠ Grow?

'Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea.'

'Nancy, if I were your husband, I 'd drink it.'

Lady Nancy Astor and Sir Winston Churchill

How deliciously droll, I adore this quote! As a cozy mystery writer, I'm always on the hunt for unique ways to commit 'mur-dahs most foul'. Poisons are used quite often in cozy tales, hence my interest in what's the best one to use?; how does it work?; what are the symptom's? I guess on the surface it sounds a bit ghoulish but a writer's got to do what a writer's got to do to keep things real in the story--details do matter!

In 2019 at the Bouchercon mystery conference held in Dallas, I attended a session titled 'Deadly Poisons' that went into specific details for arsenic and strychnine. The speaker (she worked as a nurse treating people who had been exposed to poisons) went into great detail as to the amounts needed to to cause a person's demise, the best (re; deadly) ways to administer, symptoms to watch for and finally how death would result for the victim.

During the session, she also spoke on the topic of poison gardens. It seems there are many plants one could use to obtain deadly results😬 so caution is a must! The most surprising culprits (for me anyway) were fruits (ie apples, cherries, citrus fruits, mangoes, tomatoes, rhubarb, grapes to name a few)--best not to ingest the pips/seeds of these plants, some oils, nor certain leaves/roots on these fruit plants, for many of them contain variants (of varying degree) of cyanide, allergens and neurotoxins that can induce serious symptoms I'm sure you wouldn't want to experience! Also, many can cause dire/deadly effects on your pets, so keep a watch out for our furry friends...

A number of my favorite flowering plants are oh-so-pretty but can be oh-so-deadly: Calla lily (how many brides covet these in their bouquets?); Elderberry (how many of you (like me) were taking this faithfully during the #pandemic? Roots, leaves, and unripe fruit are considered poisonous...); Rhododendron (I miss the azaleas here in California, but now that I know the toxicity of this lovely plant, I'll take a pass...); Daffodil (don't eat the bulbs); Hydrangea (pretty looking but don't eat!); Hyacinth (even handling the bulbs can be bad for you, wear those gardening gloves)--the list goes on and on, dun-dun-dun. ☠

I'll be doing more research on the topic of poison gardens for my books, but think that for the time being I might just leave the toxic beauties in the professional care of the botanical gardens and arboretums, LOL, my thumb is not that green. I also have a growing appreciation for the herbalists and homeopathic specialists these days, thinking often of Claire in the Outlander series, foraging in the forest for remedy ingredients. I'll always wonder if she snuck in a poison plant or two in her bag--just in case. I now know tonics and teas can be used in many different ways...#Eek

I hope you've enjoyed the garden pics featured today from Italy (Lake Maggiore); the Biltmore estate in North Carolina, Las Vegas (Encore hotel), Half Moon Bay (entry to the Ritz) and the Butchart Gardens in Victoria B.C. I know I will be on the hunt to explore more of these stately gardens and plantings. If you're hitting the road this summer, take some time to smell (but please don't eat) the daisies! It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

It's Almost That Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I'm in the process of completing my Christmas tales for Rikkhe St. Claire's Christmas Bizarre story collection--I'm very excited for this book release just in time for the holidays! However, like all good writers must do, I also need to be planning promos for My American Almost Royal Cousin Series books that feature holiday settings for the Christmas in July sales. Mistletoe and Mayhem: Yuletide at Castlewood Manor is an obvious choice for me, but also the first book in the series, The Crown for Castlewood Manor. Personally, I love having a bit of Christmas fun in the heat of summer--if nothing else you can pretend baby it's cold outside...#Writers, are you planning any Christmas in July promos for your tales? If so, LMK, I'll be glad to RT! #HoHoHo

Deadly A, B, C's this week from the writers of Twitter...

Author Kathryn Harkup, A is for Arsenic, The Poisons of Agatha Christie, 5

If you're looking for an intriguing, fact filled book giving an overview of the poisons used in Agatha Christie's mystery tales, this is the book for you. Author Harkup does a brilliant job of giving the reader an overview of the poisons, including chemical make-up, uses, history, bodily effects--and then segues into examples of Dame Christie's tales utilizing the poison, coupled with real life instances as well.

I was particularly struck by the range of detail in the book. The use of scientific data mixed with literary examples gives the reader a unique view into the 'behind the scenes thinking and knowledge' Dame Christie may have in fact utilized as she developed her storylines and plans for a character's demise.

As a cozy mystery writer and reader, I found the information to be extremely helpful and enlightening. I will definitely be reading more of Author Harkup's 'science meets literary' works. A fascinating read, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

Perfect for these hot summer days!

Don't forget to tune into the #BOOKEM channel on YouTube to check out all things books! It's informative, fun and a great way to while away the lazy daze of summer--plus I just know you are missing seeing me in my crowns💖👑! Enjoy friends, see you soon...

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

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. Now for some sugary #Christmas fun, don't forget to tune into the Hallmark Channel this Friday--it's time for Christmas in July holiday movies! #Squee Gemma and Rikkhe approve #HoHoHo 🎄💖👑

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