Bobbi Ann Johnson Holmes

The Ghost of Marlow House in Audiobook

AudioBooksIt’s a busy week for Haunting Danielle. On Tuesday, Tantor Media released the audiobook version of The Ghost of Marlow House—the first book in the Haunting Danielle series. It’s available in digital download and on CD. Today, CDs of the audiobook arrived in my mail from the publisher.

You can find the audiobook at the Tantor Media website, as well as Audible, Amazon, and other audiobook vendors. If you are a member of Audible, and have already purchased the eBook version from Amazon, you can get the audiobook at a significantly discounted price.

Tomorrow is the release of Book 12 in the series—The Ghost and the Leprechaun—in eBook format. We hope to have the paperback versions of Book 11 and 12 in the series available by April, 2017.

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You think repealing the Affordable Care Act won’t hurt you financially? Think again.

People like me are worried about the GOPs promise to repeal ACA aka Obamacare, because even though the president elect has promised to repeal and replace simultaneously and not leave people with pre-existing conditions uninsured—Congress appears to be focusing their attention primarily on the repeal part.

For those out there who are confident you will be okay—maybe you have good insurance through work and hope your premiums might even go down—or those of you who don’t believe you need insurance because you’ve always been healthy and resent being fined for not having insurance—you could still feel the pain—the financial pain, if ACA is repealed before being replaced to address those with pre-existing conditions.

When your uninsured neighbor down the street is diagnosed with cancer and ends up losing his house in foreclosure because of it—that will adversely impact your property values, meaning the value of your home could drop thousands of dollars.

If you work in a restaurant, those potential diners now struggling with medical bills will be eating out less—and those who do, will be less generous in their tips.

If you work in a beauty shop, your clients who find themselves now struggling to pay their medical bills will be looking for ways to trim their budget, which will mean less trips to the beauty shop, coloring their own hair, or no longer having their nails done.

If you have a house cleaning business, yard care business, or pool service—you’ll find those customers who get sick without health care now struggling to pay their medical bills, which can mean cancelling their service to budget their funds.

I could go on and on, but the fact is, when your neighbors are wiped out financially when faced with catastrophic medical expenses they are less likely to make purchases like new appliances, new furniture, new cars, boats, or anything beyond the basic necessities.

I’m not just making this up—I am speaking from personal experience. Before ACA we struggled to pay our mounting medical bills—and not because we didn’t have insurance, but because the insurance cost us $1,200 a month yet had a $6,000+ deductible and did not cover any doctor visits or pharmacy. It only covered major medical. This meant each month I worked to pay off medical bills, like doctor visits I had to have in order to get my thyroid medication refilled—or that that trip to the eye doctor. With the history of glaucoma in my family, I could not afford to miss my annual appointment–yet my husband regularly missed his.

I avoided things like trips to the dentist and my annual pap smear—because I didn’t have the money to pay for the dentist/doctor visit (I was too busy paying off other medical bills) and even though the insurance covered mammogram screenings, I couldn’t get one of those until I visited my doctor—a visit not covered by my insurance back then.

Because of the ACA, which gave me better insurance for less money, I was able to pay my outstanding medical bills. Because of the ACA I was able to visit my doctor and schedule my mammogram—the mammogram that detected my breast cancer. Because of ACA, the deductible I had to come up with prior to surgery did not wipe us out.

Because of ACA, while I was dealing with my cancer, I did not have to worry about how I was going to pay the medical bills. I did not have to worry about my cancer pushing us into bankruptcy. I was able to focus my energy on my work—writing my Haunting Danielle series, which became a success and turned our family’s finances around.

And while our increase in income meant we had to repay a significant portion of the tax credit that initially helped us pay for that health insurance we purchased through the exchange—we were okay with that, because we had the money to cover it—and we had the medical insurance to pay our medical bills.

We also had money to pay off our credit cards and begin paying off any outstanding debt we had. I could now afford a housekeeper, enabling me to spend more time on my writing. We were able to buy a new vehicle. We were able to remodel my 88-year old mother’s bathroom so she could safely use her shower—something we couldn’t afford before. Don and I were able to eat out more—tip better. I joined WNEA and could afford to do things like sponsor the upcoming Bunko event which will help raise money for local scholarships. The list goes on

The real trickle down economy works when your neighbors can pay their bills and have extra money to spend.

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Happy 125th Birthday!

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Today Grandma Hilda turns 125. At least she would be, if she hadn’t passed away in 1978—a year before having a chance to meet my firstborn.

Grandma may have left this world almost 39 years ago, but I think of her every day. In my bedroom sits her old-fashioned dressing table. I remember sitting at it as a little girl, poking through its messy drawers, filled with random personal items like bobby pins, hair nets, and pop beads. Grandma didn’t wear pearls; she wore pop beads. Today women of my generation don’t use hair nets—at least not that I’m aware of, and the last time I saw a pair of pop beads was over a decade ago.

The set of apple Franciscan ware I have didn’t belong to her, yet it’s like her set—and a few of the pieces I got after my aunt passed away may have once belonged to Grandma. But it doesn’t matter. I think of Grandma whenever I use it. Even my painted kitchen cabinets—not quite white with a hint of soft yellow, were inspired by Grandma’s kitchen.

91A couple years before Grandma passed away she went into decline and my uncle put her in a nursing home. When my mother came into town we went to visit Grandma, and we were horrified at the home. They had Grandma drugged up and the place smelled. We made the split decision to kidnap her.  I can still remember the staff saying—“You can’t do that!”—we hadn’t been the ones to check her in.  We said, “Watch us,” and took her out of there.

We took Grandma to my aunt’s house. I was newly married and had recently graduated from college and didn’t yet have a job. So, each day, I drove from Covina, California to my aunt’s house in El Monte, to help take care of grandma. She got better and moved back home with my grandpa Pete.

When Grandma passed away a couple years later, she was ready to go. She told my mother, “I hope they won’t be mad at me.” Mom didn’t realize what Grandma meant until after she slipped off in her sleep.

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In my Haunting Danielle series death is never the end. And who knows—perhaps it is the same way in the real world. I like to think Grandma is surrounded by all those who she loved—and have since departed.

A few years back I discovered altered books—where an artist transforms a hardback book into a work of art. As an author, I supposed I should be outraged at the thought of violating a book in such a way—making it unreadable—not as the original author intended. But the truth is—I found altered books utterly enchanting, especially how they stimulate the tactile senses.

For my Mother’s birthday one year, I created an altered book, wholly inspired by Grandma Hilda. As you will see by the posted pictures, it even has a little drawer filled with pop beads. What you can’t smell, is the package of gardenia fragrance wax chips—which when one opens the book, still gives off the scent of Grandma Hilda’s favorite flower.

Happy Birthday Grandma Hilda

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A Christmas gift you can share.

Christmas background with decorated branches of Christmas tree.

This Christmas you can share the first book of the Haunting Danielle series with your friends, and it won’t cost you anything! Simply share this post with someone who you think will enjoy the series, and have them click on the image to take them to the page to get their free copy of The Ghost of Marlow House. If you haven’t read the book, grab a copy for yourself!

Merry Christmas,
From Bobbi Holmes

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It’s here! The Ghost Who Stayed Home, Book 11 of the Haunting Danielle series

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Left alone at Marlow House with Sadie and Max, Walt expects Danielle and Lily to return by the end of the week. When they don’t, he begins to wonder what happened to them.

The ghost of Marlow House doesn’t scare six-year-old Evan MacDonald. When the child sneaks into the house in the middle of the night, seeking Walt’s help, the resident spirit learns something has happened to Danielle and Lily.

Can a ghost confined to Marlow House and a pint-sized medium bring the people they love home?

Available at your favorite eBook store: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords.

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The story behind The Story of the Christmas Village

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Twenty-four years ago my father, Walt Johnson, passed away on December 10th. His first name might sound familiar—I borrowed it for one of my lead characters in the Haunting Danielle series.

Our family (my husband and two small children) moved to Lake Havasu (where I had lived as a teenager) in 1991, to help my parents run Havasu Palms. I wrote about that experience in Where the Road Ends, Havasu Palms Recipes and Remembrances, and again in Havasu Palms, A Hostile Takeover.

At the time, my father had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and he would pass away about a year after we moved to Havasu Palms.  The Story of the Christmas Village began shortly before Dad’s last Christmas, in 1991.

Scott, our oldest, was twelve that year, and our youngest, Elizabeth, was nine. It was a few weeks before Christmas, and I needed to give them something to do, so I handed them a stack of index cards, scissors, tape, and colored markers, and told them to make a village. And they did. They created an imaginative Christmas village, complete with a windmill, bridge, and houses with lights on the eves and cozy fireplaces inside the homes.image025

My mother was quite impressed with her grandchildren’s accomplishment, and proudly arranged the village around her Christmas tree. When Christmas was over, she carefully packed the village away in a large cardboard box.

Time passed. The years rolled by. Dad was gone, we lost Havasu Palms, and we were now living across the lake in Lake Havasu City.

Mom was visiting my sister when Don and I decided to empty the storage unit we had been renting. One of the boxes we found there contained the Christmas village.  Mom had given me strict instructions to take care in handling her precious village.

Unfortunately, the storage box was huge, and we had nowhere to keep it. I came up with an idea—photograph the village and write a story about it, which I would then self-publish as a Christmas gift for Mom.

I never intended for the book to be anything other than a gift for Mom. I never intended to offer it to the public. But then my sister happened.

Before my sister Lynn retired a couple of years ago, she was an elementary school teacher—over the years teaching first, second, and kindergarten classes. That year I gave Mom the book, I also gave a copy to my sister. Lynn did something with the book that I never expected. She read it to her class every year before Christmas, and her students loved it!  After reading the book with the class, she image039would have them make their own village with index cards.

Lynn urged me to publish the book. Actually, she wanted me to package it with index cards and markers.  I met her half way, and self-published the book, first through Lulu and then with Amazon.

It’s never been a big seller. Some who’ve read it, love it—and get what it’s about. After reading the book with their young children some readers get out the index cards and markers, and the real fun begins. Of course, there are some who pick up the book and scowl, wondering why I bothered publishing an obviously personal story that only my family could enjoy.

But of course…not every book appeals to every reader. Not even The Story of the Christmas Village.

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Looking for a ghostly Christmas tale?

How about a really good chocolate Christmas cookie?

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Christmas is just eleven days away,  and if you’re looking for a cozy Christmas book to curl up with,  check out The Ghost Who Came for Christmas.

While I advise reading the books in the Haunting Danielle series in order (this is Book 6), it isn’t critical for enjoying the story.

With a house full over the Christmas holiday, Danielle has been spending a great deal of her time baking—recreating culinary memories and holiday traditions from her childhood. One of those is a chocolate drop cookie borrowed from my own childhood.

If you are in the mood for baking, here’s the recipe.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

This cookie was a Christmas tradition when I was a child. During the holidays my paternal grandmother, Madeline, would fill a roasting pan with chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate drop cookie. My father (the original Walt) loved both, yet I believe the chocolate drop was his favorite. These are moist cake-like cookies, a delight to any chocolate lover! But don’t over-bake!

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon of warm water)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate (melted)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375º. Cream together sugar and shortening. Stir in egg, milk, then remaining ingredients, one by one. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonful on cookie sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes (Do not overcook!) Frost while warm. About 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Drop Cookie Frosting

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cream or milk
2 squares unsweetened chocolate (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend together sugar and cream. Add melted chocolate, stir well. Add vanilla, mix thoroughly. Frost warm cookies.

 

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Haunting Danielle coming to audio books!

This afternoon I received the fully executed contract back from Tantor Media, who recently purchased the audio rights to the first three books in the Haunting Danielle series. In 2017 The Ghost of Marlow House, The Ghost Who Loved Diamonds, and The Ghost Who Wasn’t will be available for digital download for audio books, as well as available on CD.

In the meantime, Book 11 of the Haunting Danielle series—The Ghost Who Stayed Home—is slated for eBook release in a couple days, on December 16, 2016.  My cover designer is currently on sick leave after surgery, so the paperback versions will have to wait another month or so to hit Amazon.

I also have another pre-order available—Book 12 of the series, The Ghost and the Leprechaun which you can grab now. It won’t cost you anything until the book goes live in March.

 

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Hello world.
Do you wonder where I’ve been?

In October my husband and I spent a week at a timeshare at Avila Beach. It was the first time in—I don’t know how long—that just Don and I went away together. It seems whenever we take a trip it’s to a family reunion or to see our kids—which is wonderful, but sometimes it is nice to just get away alone with the love of one’s life.

We had a relaxing week and the weather was perfect. The timeshare belonged to someone my husband works with. He couldn’t use it this year, so we rented it from him, and I’m really glad we did.

Mom stayed home with Lady the Aussie and Spooky the Halloween Cat. We recently signed her up for medical alert alarm, but we didn’t want her staying home alone, so we hired a friend to stay with her in the evenings. I am happy to report Mom had a great time while we were gone.

Unfortunately, Mom ran into a bit of trouble a little over a week ago and broke her hip. On November 6th she had surgery and everything went well. I was grateful they put her under with a spinal block instead of general anesthesia, which can really play havoc on an elderly person.

Mom is currently at a rehab center, working to get mobile again so she can come home. It’s located on the other end of town, and I’ve been visiting her daily. She’s been a real trouper, but she so wants to come home, and we want her to. Here at home I have been going through her room and making it walker friendly. I even bought her some new furniture and in a couple hours she will be getting new carpet.

In the middle of all this I have been working on Book 11, The Ghost Who Stayed Home. Its release date is December 16. There are some new things happening with the series, but I can’t tell you yet—although I will soon.

Now I need to get back to work on the book, and get something done before the carpet installers arrive.

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