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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Welcome guest blogger Beverly Allen!

My wish for Bloom and Doom is that readers have at least half the fun I had writing it.

Audrey Bloom is a twenty-nine-year-old wedding florist, and she’s at that stage in her life where her idealism is being challenged by some tough realities. In many ways she’s still mourning her beloved Grandma Mae. The Rose in Bloom, the shop she runs with her cousin Liv, continues to struggle.

Audrey also recently broke up with a long-time boyfriend--on the very day she had expected him to propose. The smart side of her (and she’s very smart) has decided she’s not ready for another relationship. The romantic side of her (the part of her that loves old movies and swoons over the town’s new cupcake baker) isn’t so sure, especially when she spends her days making things perfect for other people’s weddings.

Audrey loves the old Victorian language of flowers and enjoys helping a bride choose flowers that match her personality or characterize her relationship with her future spouse. In fact, Audrey just learned that no bride who has carried one of her bouquets on their trip to the altar has ever split up. But when an old friend shows up and asks for a bouquet of anemone, which means forsaken, it can’t be a good omen.

Researching all the old meanings and how they changed over time was eye-opening. Many modern florists use meanings that are all positive. (Probably because they’re trying to sell flowers!) But the older sources, while they don’t often agree on the meanings, will include many negative connotations as well. For example, to the Victorians an orange lily could mean I hate you. But now some say it means I burn for you. I may never look at a bouquet the same way again.

Not that I’ve ever worked as a florist… In Bloom and Doom we also meet the local police chief, Kane Bixby, and he’s less than overjoyed at working crime scenes that contain flowers because he’s highly allergic. (Want to guess where I got that idea? Hmm?) Still, I toughed it out, even taking a course in floral design so I could get more hands-on experience. (Thank you, Benadryl!) I’m also fortunate to have a friend who retired from running her own flower shop, so she looks over all my designs and the general workings of the flower shop. She recently told me she’d gladly come out of retirement if she could find a job with Audrey and Liv!

And when the protagonist is a wedding florist, the series is bound to contain a wedding or two. Elaborate theme weddings can be a lot of fun to plan, especially when you don’t actually have to do the work or pay for the venue--and maybe even more fun if things don’t work out quite the way they were planned to!

All that wedding planning may pay off in real life, however, as my daughter recently announced her engagement. She wants calla lilies--magnificent beauty. Oddly enough, she wasn’t interested in using any of the weddings or bouquets from the series. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because people keep dying?

Of course, Bloom in Doom is a cozy mystery, so in the middle of all that wedding planning, we have a body, breaking the peace of the cozy small-town of Ramble, Virginia. While Ramble is fictional, I had a small town picked out as a model. But while I was writing the first draft, my planned research trip kept getting delayed. It was only a couple of weeks before the manuscript was due that I was in the area and finally got to spend the day exploring my model town. I had a chance to visit the local visitors’ center, police station, and even hang around the local floral shop. While it’s not identical, the similarities were uncanny. I’m not sure I had to change anything. And I had the oddest case of déjà vus when I saw the idyllic Main Street, the historic churches, and the white gazebo in the town square!

I hope readers enjoy getting to know Audrey Bloom and the other residents as much as I have.



Beverly Allen (a pseudonym for Barbara Early) grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Facebook Scrabble.
She taught secondary English and science for several years before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. 
When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, crafts, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter. 

Beverly's website can be found here.




Berkley Prime Crime has generously offered a copy of Bloom and Doom to one of my readers.  To enter, please tell us what your favorite flower is, in the comment area below.  Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win.

42 comments:

  1. The photo reminds me that I adore red poppies and rannuculas. bobbipad at gmail.com

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    1. Thanks for dropping by and for commenting, Barbara!

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    2. looking forward to starting a new series

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    3. Judging from the first book, I think it'll be a great series. Please reply with a valid email address to be included in the drawing.

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    4. Hi, Barbara-- Audrey would say that red poppies are the symbol of consolation. And ranunculus says "you are radiant with charms." Very charming. Thanks for entering!

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  2. Forget me knots is my favorite flower and/or pansies!
    Lynn/MI

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    1. Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Lynn. Please reply with your email address to be entered in the drawing.

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    2. Lynn. Thanks for stopping by! The meaning of forget-me-nots is a bit predictable. :) And pansies mean "think of me." Seems they have complementary meanings!

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  3. Right now, pansies are my favorite because they are the only blooming flower that survives our winters outside. Beautiful colors too! Ronnalord (at) msn ( dot) com

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    1. I love pansies, too, Ronna! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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    2. Yes, pansies would be pretty right about now. They can mean "think of me" or "You occupy my thoughts." Such a pretty way of expressing it!

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    3. I do love flower meanings. My son plants my pansies every fall and that's just what he say. " remember Mom, think of me when you see these and know that I love you!" Ok I, now I really hope I get chosen to read this book!!

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  4. Irises, any color, are always my favorite....

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    1. Purple irises are the best, I think! Please reply with your email address to be included in the drawing.

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    2. Hi, Alicia. Audre would say those irises stand for a message--or I have a message for you. Marilyn, I think people get excited thinking about their favorite flower that they forget to leave their email! Hopefully Alicia and other will be back to reply with their contact info!

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  5. Hi, Marilyn! Nice to meet you, and thanks so much for hosting me today!

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    1. Nice to "meet" you, too, Beverly. Thanks for dropping by!

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  6. One of my favorite flowers are impatiens, mainly because of how easy they are to take care of. Give them shade and water, and they look beautiful.

    carstairs38 @ gmail dot com

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    1. That's why I like impatiens too, Mark. Thanks for dropping by!

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    2. Hi, again, Mark. I saw that Mark liked impatiens on another giveaway. It took a little detective work to discover the meaning, since the names have changed. But I found it interesting that they were once called touch-me-nots.

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  7. Daffodils are my favorite flower. It is so welcoming to see those first little yellow flowers after a cold snowy winter.
    angiey1974@hotmail.com

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    1. Daffodils are so cheerful, aren't they, Angie! Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense.

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    2. A daffodil shows "good taste." Nice to see you over here, Angie!

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  8. I loved BLOOM AND DOOM! Waiting for the next book is torture, but I know it will be well worth the wait! If I could vote on "best new cozy series", the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries would get my vote!

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    1. I agree, Lisa -- waiting for book 2 is agonizing. Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense!

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    2. Hi Lisa. I think you'll like book 2. For Whom the Bluebell Tolls. There should be a glimpse of the cover later this spring or early summer.

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  9. I look forward to reading this series. My favorite flower is the violet...but birds of paradise are a favorite bouquet flower for me!

    cozyupwithkathy at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi again, Kathy. I think you're the first one to bring up the bird of paradise. They're not in Audrey's guide, unfortunately. But modern guides suggest they symbolize paradise. Or joyfulness. Or the tropics. Or maybe flying to a tropical paradise right now would bring me joy. It's been a looooong winter.

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    2. I love violets, too, but where I live, birds of paradise grow like weeds!
      Thank you so much for dropping by,Kathy, and for commenting!

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  10. Savannah HendricksApril 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    Got here as quick as I could! HAHA.
    My favorite flowers are hydrangeas. I like these the best because they are not your typically "first picked" flower, and because they have little bugs living on them. One of the families I used to nanny for when I lived in Washington had the most beautiful bushes of them, white, blue and purple. I could literally stare at them for hours.

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    1. Hi, Savannah. I just saw some lovely hydrangeas for sale at the local greenhouse, and I'm seriously considering it. Audrey Bloom might not approve, however, since that symbolize boastfulness--probably because of the over-sized blooms.

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  11. My favorite flowers are definitely sunflowers. They grow so easily in the "wild". Second would be bluebonnets since I'm from Texas!

    Tennisace50 at yahoo dot com

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    1. Linda, I believe you are the first to mention bluebonnets. Audrey's guide would list them as lupines,and the meanings are imagination and voraciousness. (Like voracious readers!)

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  12. My favorite flowers are hydrangeas. They remind me of summers on Cape Cod when I was a kid. Hydrangeas were everywhere down there.

    dotkel50 at comcast dot net

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    1. Dotty, funny how flowers are tied into our memories. Thanks for entering!

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  13. After roses, I love poppies. They certainly don't last very long and I enjoy them quickly :) I really think this series is going to go far. And I have bulbs to plant. Thanks for the giveaway. judydee22002@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi, Judy. Poppies vary in meaning based on color. Red stands for consolation. White for oblivion--probably a reference to the effects of opiates. And I hope the series "goes far" too. I love writing Audrey Bloom. I hope readers enjoy meeting her too.

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  14. I love lilacs and violets

    kaye.killgore@comcast.net

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    1. Kaye, sounds like a lovely combination in purple.

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  15. my favorite flowers are daffodils & tulips!!! my daffodils are poking out of the ground!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

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  16. I adore peonies!

    pocokat AT gmail DOT com

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