Category Archives: Key West

Tropical Plants: 10+ of the Most Unique Flora You’ll Ever See

Tropical Plants PhotosTropical Plants Galore

10+ of the most unique tropical plants you’ll ever see just might be located all in one place. As much as I enjoyed learning the history of the famous Old Town home, I was even more fascinated about the Audubon House’s surrounding flora. (If you missed my last blog post, you can check it out at Audubon House: 3 Surprising Facts About This Popular Attraction.) I’m so excited to finally share these beauties with you!

Tropical Plants: The Flowers

Tropical Plant Photos


Tropical Plant Photos



Tropical Plant Photos

Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos

Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants:  Two Cool Trees

Tropical Plants Photos

If you’ve ever wondered where limes grow, look no further. The Audubon House grounds have two types of lime trees. There’s the Spanish Lime and the Key Lime. The fruit above is the same kind used to make one of Key West’s famous Key Lime Pie. Yum!

Tropical Plants Photos

I thought it was cool to see this banana tree plant, too. Us northern types don’t often get to see a plant like this in person.

So, that’s the end of my little tour of some of the most unique tropical flora you’ll likely ever find in one locale. I hope you enjoyed. Feel free to share your pretty flower and plant photos in the comments section.

A Few More Audubon Tropical Garden Photos

Tropical Plant Photos 20160724_131328 20160724_134348 20160724_134514

If you love photos of pretty flowers and want more, follow me on Instagram where I post all my best pics from my outdoor explorations near and far. All photos are taken with my Samsung Galaxy 6 Phone Camera. And in case you’re curious, most are cropped but few are filtered. Nature is beautiful enough without me messing with it. 😉

Before You Go!

In book news, I’m thrilled to announce that Book 1 in my Mystic Escapes series has re-released as of today, a light romantic suspense with a dash of magic. Check out One More Sunset, this Key West-set short novel, or any of my contemporary romance books at my Books Page.




Audubon House: 3 Surprising Facts About This Popular Attraction

Audubon House
Audubon House

Audubon House of Key West

John Audubon never lived at the Audubon House. In fact, none of his relatives ever resided there, either.  It turns out that the home was built by John H. Geiger. He lived in it with his family, and it was handed down through the generations to their descendants until the mid-1900s. At that time, the house was sold to a Key West native, and it was they who decided to convert it into a museum honoring the famed bird naturalist.

Audubon House
Historical Marker Outside the Audubon House
Audubon House
Sketch of Black Cormorant

Flamingo tongue was a delicacy served to the Geiger’s house guests upon their visits. However, the black cormorant was likely the meat they feasted on the most, since it was said to be “the best bird to eat, much like the black duck of the north” according to Henry A Patterson’s diary. I found that historical tidbit a tad ironic, considering the Audubon Society’s mission has always focused on the protection of waterfowl populations. But I can’t be too upset with the Geigers for that particular transgression. After all, they did serve their guests wine from a really cool wine chest.

Audubon House
Dining Room of Geiger Home
Audubon House
Wine Chest in Dining Room

Women who lived at the Audubon house enjoyed a life of luxury. According to a letter written by Ellen Anderson in 1849 and later published in Echoes From a Distant Frontier, she woke up between 6-7 AM, ate a leisurely breakfast made by her servants, then taught the children for about an hour before she sewed. Dinner was at 2 PM. After her meal, she would go out and return at 6 PM for the family’s last meal of the day. Of course, her day wasn’t complete without another stroll around the piazzas.

Perhaps Mrs. Anderson’s description shouldn’t have caught me by surprise, but it did. Key West was isolated during the 1800s, but apparently the wealthy family managed to create a pampered lifestyle. Of course, their servants’ lives were a harsh contrast, and it struck me that Key West hasn’t always been known as a proponent of their present-day “One Human Family” motto. Then, too, I was reminded of Hemingway’s novel, To Have and Have Not, which featured prominently in my heroine’s adventures in One More Sunset. (Scroll down for One More Sunset‘s big cover reveal in anticipation of its re-release October 3rd.)

Audubon House
Master Bedroom in Geiger Home


Audubon House
The Drawing Room

Next time we’ll trek outside the property and explore the flora of the Audubon House’s Tropical Gardens, my absolute favorite part of the grounds.

Audubon House

Final Winner of Summer of Love Giveaway

Congratulations to Denise H.! You’re the winner of my fourth and final Summer of Love Giveaway. Contact me to receive your autographed copy of Jennifer Gracen’s paperback book, Someone Like You and assorted Jolyse Barnett swag. Thanks again to everyone who entered. I enjoyed spreading a little summer love and I wish you all a wonderful autumn.

One More Sunset Big Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited to share the first piece of my romantic suspense’s brand new, beautiful cover! What do you think? Eager to see more? I promise there are more pieces to reveal throughout the day. See you later!

One More Sunset Cover Art

“She drank him in like the first sip of caffeine on a groggy morning, sunshine filling her soul. If she were greedy when it came to Dylan, then so be it. She wanted him. “




“I’m here for you Abby. You’re not going to scare me away.”

Was that a catch she heard in his voice? She opened the truck door, plopped onto the leather seat, and promptly burst into tears. Great, he’d totally ruined everything. He was too damned sweet. With her luck, she’d fall for him like she had from that infernal machine. Hard.



“The elevator stopped, and the doors slid open. She stared at a man running down the hall toward her. Her hair stood on end, and she held her breath, unable to think, unable to look away. Was it him? She jabbed the elevator button again and again, each press of her finger using more force than the last. Close. Close. Close. Should she have walked the three flights instead? She shuddered, recalling another stairwell in another building not long ago… No, the stairs weren’t any safer.”



One More Sunset's NEW Cover!!
One More Sunset’s NEW Cover!!

Abby trailed her hand down his tan, muscled back. Manual labor agreed with him. Dylan was even more gorgeous in the early morning light, his hair mussed and face scruffy. She gazed at his peaceful expression, tempted to kiss the freckles on the bridge of his nose but unwilling to wake him.


Now it’s your turn. Did you experience any surprises during your travels this past summer?




3 Easy Steps To The Most Stunning Flower Photos

Stunning flower photos? Well, I’ll let you be the judge when it comes to mine. I’m not a professional photog, but I’ve always been the family shutterbug on vacation and during holidays. And once we began our annual trek to Orlando each spring starting in 2005–which just so happened to overlap with EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival–I also become known in my little world for my flower photo obsession.

Stunning Flower Photos
EPCOT Flowers w/Backdrop

Unlike the other how-to articles about taking flower photos, I don’t know much about fancy cameras and can’t teach you about perspective. I switched out my trusty Canon a few years ago in favor of a Smartphone camera, and I’d never so much as read a how-to article related to photography until today, when I read a few to ensure I was bringing you a fresh take on the subject.

Stunning Flower Photos
EPCOT Bougainvillea

A decade of trial-and-error and literally hundreds upon hundreds of flower photos in the name of fun have helped me master a few tricks for capturing images that, at times, might just rival some of those stunning flower photos taken by professionals.

Stunning Flower Photo
Taken in my front yard…

So, whether you want to take pictures for art’s sake or memory-keeping, or you simply enjoy looking at pretty flowers, here are my three easy steps to help you see the subject through a different, stunning lens.

Stunning Flower Photos STEP 1:  COLOR

Stunning Flower Photos
Fuchsia Azaleas
  • Does the flower’s color pop out at you?
  • Is the flower itself an unusual shade or hue that draws you in, surprises you, or fills you with happiness?
  • If you respond yes to any of the above questions, then you likely have an excellent candidate for a memorable photo.
  • My most popular flower photos are those with fuchsia, orange, purple, and yellow.
  • If you respond no to all of these questions, your flower might still be a good candidate if it possesses other qualities listed in Steps 2 or 3.

Stunning Flower Photos STEP 2:  CONTRAST

Stunning Flower Photos
Zoomed-in, Bird’s Eye View, Purple, Unique Texture

  • Is there one angle or distance from the flower that allows more of a contrast in color, lighting, or texture than others? Be sure to try eye-level, bird’s-eye view, off-kilter, zoomed in, or skyward, etc.
  • Does the same flower look prettier to you at certain times of the day, or in special weather conditions?
  • Is there an interesting backdrop to accentuate its beauty? (Remember to look at the flower from different vantage points.)
Stunning Flower Photos
White Azalea Textures

Stunning Flower Photos STEP 3:  CHARACTER

Stunning Flower Photos
Golden Hydrangea???

Once I let go of my Virgo approach to photography, I began to consider a flower’s character. I know it might sound silly, but one of the greatest surprises for me as an amateur photog was the realization that locating the perfect angle with the perfect, pristine flower wouldn’t necessarily equate to the most stunning flower photo. Turns out, some of my best flower photos are of imperfect or past-their-prime flowers.

Stunning Flower Photos
Bee on Flower

I can still remember my Honey teasing me about choosing to post a photo of our white hydrangea whose petals had begun to decay. But I thought they deserved one last shot and was amazed by the result. (Scroll back up to see the Decaying White Hydrangea…)

Stunning Flower Photos
Easter Lily

Perhaps it’s the flower’s unique shape, texture, or arrangement that  encourages the human eye to explore it further. Whatever the reason, my Golden Hydrangea experience has encouraged me to think outside the box when it comes which flowers are the “perfect” ones.

Stunning Flower Photos
Amazing Audubon Tropical Gardens

What about the Audubon Tropical Gardens?

No, I haven’t forgotten that I’d teased you all about sharing more photos from our recent getaway to Key West’s Audubon House & Tropical Gardens. But this little tutorial turned out to be way chattier than I’d planned, and I’ve yet to announce the Summer of Love Giveaway winner for this week. Besides, the history buff in me insists I also include a few shocking facts I learned about the house’s history to go along with the purty pics.

I hope you’ll join me then!

Winner of the Summer of Love Giveaway #3

Congratulations to Janine! You’re the random winner of my third Summer of Love Giveaway, featuring Jeannie Moon’s autographed copy of Until You, a Jeannie Moon canvas tote bag, and assorted Jolyse Barnett swag. Please contact me with your mailing address.

This is Jeannie’s release week for her contemporary romance novella, Truly, Madly, Deeply, too! If you’re a fan of Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay series, you’ll definitely want to check out Jeannie’s Barefoot Bay Kindle World books. (I was lucky enough to read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book, and I adored it. Just saying…)

Enter to Win the Summer of Love Giveaway #4

This week’s giveaway features the fab Jennifer Gracen, a woman referred to as “a hot new voice…definitely one to watch!” by RT Book Reviews. She generously donated a signed paperback of Someone Like You, the second book in her Harrisons series. Talk about hawt heroes and family dynamics! Each of her novels are stand-alones, so it’s not a concern if you haven’t read the first Harrison one yet. The lucky winner will also receive assorted Jolyse Barnett swag. (I love surprises like that, don’t you?)

Here’s an excerpt from Jen’s contemporary romance to whet your appetite:

Someone Like You_MMThe HARRISONS series -SOMEONE LIKE YOUBook Two

Pierce Harrison–yes, that Pierce Harrison, black sheep of the wealthy Harrison clan–has come home to his family’s luxurious Long Island compound. The big question is why the dangerously sexy soccer star agreed to coach a kids’ soccer team. His co-coach Abby McCord should be grateful. Instead she’s fending off some seriously smoldering advances from the scandal-ridden athlete. Good thing bad boys are so not her type . . .

Abby is definitely not lacking in passion, but the sweet-faced beauty needs to learn a thing or two about taking a team to the championship–and a whole lot about how to let a man into her once-broken heart. Pierce definitely knows how to make the moves, but will Abby trust that the bachelor the world has condemned as a scoundrel can settle down with the one woman who has taken hold of his heart?


Now it’s your turn..

What’s one of your hobbies that you could teach to others? Or is there a hobby you’d like to start, but for whatever reason you haven’t begun yet?

So…before you go, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the fourth of my Summer of Love giveaways! Good luck, and check back to see if you’ve won this cool prize courtesy of Jennifer Gracen! I’m excited to do my small part spreading a little summer love…

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in the next blog post (Generally on Mondays, but subject to change due to life’s ups-and-downs…). The winner will have seven days after announcement to contact me via my website contact page and supply a valid US mailing address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected. Thanks so much for playing!


Pamplona Room, Fourth Book Release & Giveaway

Pamplona Room
View from Pamplona Room Balcony

Pamplona Room at Andrew’s Inn~ Wow!

Pamplona Room sounds so exotic, doesn’t it? Maybe the name added to my fascination when I first read about it on Trip Advisor. We were traveling to Key West for Hemingway Days, one of Hemingway’s books featured prominently in my storyline for One More Sunset, and I was looking for a new B&B home-away-from-home to call our own. This one seemed worth a try, almost kismet!

Pamplona Room

When I wanted to book it back in November 2015, however, all Andrew Inn’s rooms were booked. Disappointed to be shut out, I reserved a room at another B&B. It was a little more expensive, but within our price point, and close to Southern Beach. I couldn’t complain.

Pamplona Room
Stairs that lead to Paris and Pamplona Rooms

But still…I secretly pined away for that Pamplona Room experience.

Pamplona Room
Andrew’s Inn Courtyard

A month out from our trip, I checked the vacancy status at Andrew’s–just in case–and was pleasantly surprised to see that the Pamplona Room I’d yearned to acquire for our four-night/five-day trip was available. We called immediately to verify what I’d seen online, had a lovely talk with the manager Lisa, and promptly switched over our reservations.

Pamplona Room
Poolside at Andrew’s Inn

The day of our couple getaway arrived. Our flight from Long Island to Fort Lauderdale wasn’t picture-perfect (not by a long shot), but when we finally managed to land in Florida about twelve hours after our originally scheduled time, and drove our rental car through the Keys to arrive at our B&B in the middle of the night. The Pamplona Room at Andrew’s Inn was everything I’d envisioned, though, and eased my frustration with our bad luck prior to that. And as always, the rest of our getaway was fantastic!

Pamplona Room
Book signing in Hemingway backyard

Pamplona Room at Andrew’s Inn HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Cozy yet clean queen size room w/AC
  • Plenty of storage in room and bath
  • balcony overlooking Ernest Hemingway’s backyard–Wow!
  • breakfast included
  • Intimate setting — only six rooms on-site
  • happy hour with the other guests 4:30 – 5:30 DAILY, with wine/beer/light snacks
  •  excellent, personalized customer service provided by Lisa and Christine
  • free parking!
  • dipping pool and quiet lounge area
  • Quiet and private, yet steps away from Upper Duval Street

Andrew Inn at Night

Andrew’s Inn Tips from Jolyse:

  • Take advantage of the recommended laundry service around the corner
  • Rent a bike on-site in hot weather–much more comfortable/quicker traveling with a breeze on your face
  • Take advantage of the breakfast and happy hour

Great Places to Check Out Nearby:

  • Hemingway House and Museum
  • Six-Toed Cat Café — great key lime pie
  • Lighthouse & Museum
  • End of US 1 Photo Opp
  • Banyan Trees
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Beach/Cafe
  • Truman’s Little White House
  • Green Parrot – open-air bar/restaurant
  • Upper Duval Street
  • Butterfly Conservatory
  • Southernmost Beach & Café
Pamplona Room
Available at major digital outlets now!

Fourth Book Release

My fourth book hit the Amazon charts today. The first in my Single in the City series,  TEXT ME, MAYBE is a romantic comedy set in NYC.  Writing this one was a roller-coaster ride–but I’m very pleased with the final version. I wanted to give the world–so often filled with sadness and hate–a ray of optimistic sunshine. Lexie and Matthew aren’t perfect, but I hope you find them to be perfect for each other. Reviews like this one give me the courage to continue pouring my heart and soul into my stories day after day.  oxo Jolyse

“It was a true pleasure to meet Lexie & Matt, the undeniable chemistry between these two was like a magnet that pulled me right into their world and had me hanging intently onto their every word. Their unique, and oh so, charming story was brimming with romantic comedy, laced heartfelt emotion, and packed with some heated moments that had me in dire need of a fan! This one turned out to be a very enjoyable first read for me, and left me looking forward to reading more from this author in the very near future, and I highly recommend you give it a try, these two are sure to win you over!!”  ~ Reds Romance Reviews

Winner of Summer of Love Giveaway #2

Congratulations to Katherine Martell, you’re the winner of Maggie Van Well’s signed copy of RUBY’S LETTERS along with some Jolyse Barnett swag! (Please contact me within seven days of this notice and provide a valid US mailing addy.) Thanks to everyone for playing along and to Maggie for donating her lovely read.

Enter Summer of Love Giveaway #3

Andrew's Inn

This week’s Summer of Love Giveaway features the fabulous Jeannie Moon! I’ve adored every one of her contemporary romances that I’ve read, and I’m so excited to offer this giveaway, which includes as signed copy of Until You, a Jeannie Moon canvas tote bag, and related author swag.

Here’s a blurb from this wonderful blend of women’s fiction/romance:

When newly divorced Kate Adams is approached on the sunny deck of a California hotel by hockey star David Burke, and he invites her to dinner, she almost says no. He’s obviously younger than her. And charming. And drop dead gorgeous.  But there’s also something sweet about David, so Kate—who hasn’t done anything spontaneous in a very long time—accepts his invitation.

It is, after all, her fortieth birthday.

However, a real romance with thirty-year-old David, whose picture is in the gossip pages as often as it’s in the sports pages, is out of the question. No matter how much she wants him, it’s just too risky.

But meeting Kate has been David’s lightning strike. She’s the one for him, and he has no intention of giving up on her.

So while Kate guards her fragile heart, David sets out to win her over with the same determination that drives him on the ice.

And he’ll break every rule in the book if he has to.


Now it’s your turn..

Share a special getaway moment, or tell us about a time everything seemed to go wrong at the beginning of a long-awaited vacation, but ended up fine in the end. Or, respond to any other part of today’s Monday Mash-Up Post! 🙂

So…before you go, leave a comment, you’ll be entered for a chance to win the third of my Summer of Love giveaways! Good luck, and check back next Monday to see if you’ve won this cool prize courtesy from Jeannie Moon! I’m excited to do my small part in spreading a little summer love…

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in next Monday’s blog post. Winner will have one week to contact me via my website contact page and supply a valid US mailing address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected. Thanks for playing!









Wedding Idea for Book and Cat Lovers

Wedding idea needed?

Wedding idea needed for you or a loved one? If you’re thinking about a destination wedding, and the bride adores books and cats, then Key West might be a great option. There are many pros about choosing the Conch Republic for this special event, such as:

  • it’s exotic
  • it’s within US
  • it’s known for its embracing, inclusive view toward marriage
  • it has a variety of venues, lodgings, and activities for guests
  • it’s romantic
  • it’s also a great honeymoon destination–saving on travel expenses and time
wedding idea Key West beach
Southern Beach in KW

Wedding venues galore!

Over our many getaways to the westernmost Florida Key, my Honey and I have met many newlyweds who married on the island. Most planned to celebrate their entire honeymoon there, too. I always tease my husband that I want to get married to him again, but say that this time we’d do it in Key West. I even promise, er, threaten, to wear my original wedding dress. I know my daughter wouldn’t consider wearing it in a million years. So, why not?

Wedding in Key West

We’ve observed sunset weddings on the Southernmost Beach while we lounged in our swimsuits, and witnessed brides and their entourages as they gathered at the Key West Historic Seaport. Later, we’d see the festive groups depart on a rented yacht while we dined in our T-shirts and shorts nearby at Turtle Kraals.

wedding idea on mallory square
Reception Set on Mallory Square

We’ve been celebrating the sunset and enjoying the free entertainment at Mallory Square with the rest of the crowed while a couple tied the knot at one of the waterside resorts. Their celebration would be separated from non-guests by a satin rope.

Perhaps that explains why I half-expected to hear a couple reciting their vows at the legendary property while we were touring Hemingway’s house. I mean, it could happen. Right? Well, apparently not. According to our tour guide, weddings and other special events only occur there in the evening hours, AFTER the museum tours are done for the day. It’s such a tropical and tranquil spot, secluded from the noise of Duval Street and filled with legend, history, and happy cats. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the concept. What a great wedding idea!

wedding idea at Hemingway House
Tropical and Tranquil

Hmm. Now I might not be able to convince my husband to marry me again, but perhaps he’d agree to a book release party there someday, and I’d invite all my reader friends to join us. Wouldn’t that be cool?

wedding idea pagoda
Wedding Pagoda at Hemingway Property
wedding idea for Key West venue
Wedding Pagoda

In addition to the wedding pagoda, you will also find forty-five or so well-cared-for cats that roam the tropical-landscaped property, a gorgeous backyard pool I told you all about in Pool at 907 Whitehead (maybe that’s when they make use of the pool?), and an on-site pet cemetery. The last isn’t such a happy thought, but I figured I’d mention it since it highlights the love Hemingway and his descendants had for their feline pets.

Hemingway Pet Cemetery
Hemingway Pet Cemetery

Wedding idea chat…

It’s your turn. Let’s chat weddings. Mine was in the Adirondacks on a chilly April afternoon–complete with snow flurries!  You might want to share:

  • Your wedding story
  • Your take on destination weddings
  • Your dream wedding ideas
  • OR  your reaction to this post in general

This post wraps up my mini blog series about Ernest Hemingway’s Key West property. If you’re interested in learning more, you can catch up by hopping on over to the first two posts, Hemingway’s Key West Studio and Hemingway House’s Fun Facts and Six-Toed Cats. (I mentioned and linked to the third Hemingway House post earlier in the post.)

WINNER of Summer of Love Giveaway #1

Congratulations to TERESA FORDICE! You’re the lucky winner of Patty Blount’s YA romance, TMI, and assorted Patty Blount and Jolyse Barnett swag! Contact me via my website contact page to confirm your mailing address. (I used List Randomizer at to select the winning entry.) Thanks to everyone who participated. I enjoy blogging, but enjoy reading your comments even more. <3

Patty Blount, YA Author
Patty Blount, YA Author

Enter the Summer of Love Giveaway #2

By Maggie Van Well
By Maggie Van Well
You never know what you’ll find behind the wall of a closed up fireplace.
Emma Hopkins is a recently divorced chimney sweep trying to make it in a man’s world. When she wins a huge job in Brooklyn Heights , she finds more than she bargains for; a sexy general contractor who makes her blood boil and an evil spirit who wants her dead.
Ryan Atkinson struggles to keep his once-successful general contracting business alive, but horrors in his past have made him a shell of the man he once was. Now he has to face those fears to save Emma from a murderous ghost hell-bent on revenge.
Together, Ryan and Emma become ghost hunting partners, hoping to solve the mystery behind Ruby’s letters. What they uncover is a one-hundred year old murder and a budding love that can’t be denied.


This is truly one of the sweetest romances I’ve ever read. A real gem!

Maggie Van Well is another blessing in my life since I began writing professionally six years ago, one of my Long Island Romance Writers pals, and a great personal friend, as well. If you’re not into ghost story romances (although I think you’d love this one, too), she also writes contemporary romances. Learn more at Maggie Van

So…before you go, leave a comment about today’s final Hemingway House post and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the second of my Summer of Love giveaways! This week’s prize for one USA resident who leaves a blog comment features an autographed copy of Maggie Van Well’s RUBY’S LETTERS. The gift package will also include a few surprises, including Jolyse Barnett swag. I’m excited to do my small part in spreading a little summer love!

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in next Monday’s blog post. Winner will have one week to contact me via my website contact page and supply a valid US mailing address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected. Thanks for playing and have a wonderful week!


Pool at 907 Whitehead

Pool time? The swimming pool at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida was the first in-ground one built on the island. Sixty-four feet long and twenty-four feet wide, it was an engineering feat for its time.

But that isn’t the most fascinating aspect of this pool…

swimming pool
Swimming pool at Hemingway House, KW

Like most stories related to Ernest Hemingway, who lived there with his second wife, Pauline, and their children from 1931-1940, there’s an air of mystery surrounding how the pool came to be. And as the tour guide spoke about it, many of the phrases he used to describe the structure reminded me of the writer, too.

Over-the-top. Unique.  Extravagant. Innovative.

swimming pool replaced the boxing ring
A Sparring Partner

But interestingly, as much as it reflects the late author’s persona, a swimming pool wasn’t Ernest’s first choice for his tropical backyard. Apparently a boxing ring was his idea of fun, because shortly after they moved into the house, he installed one so he could practice his amateur boxing skills on a regular basis. Of course, he invited his friends to watch.

Can you imagine looking out your window into what you’d envisioned would be your tranquil, tropical-set backyard and seeing a bunch of rough, sweaty guys cheering on your husband as he exchanges punches? From my research about Pauline, I don’t think she would sit byou and say nothing. It had been her uncle’s money that had allowed them to acquire the property in the first place, and she had two impressionable young boys. Would she want them exposed to the language and violence that went along with the sport?

I doubt it.

tour guide at swimming pool
Tour Guide at Pool

So, while the tour guide expounded on the history of the pool, I could hear Ernest pleading his case with Pauline while she complained about her yard being used as a boxing venue. He’d cite his hard work and need for a place to kick back with the guys. She wasn’t happy about when he left for the bar. Wasn’t it better he hung out at home? Pauline would point out that he went to the bar every afternoon anyway, and that he had the writing studio hogging a sizable chunk of the family backyard. Why not make the rest of it a place where they all could entertain their friends?

As I forced myself back to the present, the tour guide told us the pool had been Ernest’s idea and not Pauline’s. Hmm. Perhaps that’s true, but I still wonder whether her input might’ve been the impetus for his decision to replace that eyesore of a boxing ring with an elegant pool. Or, maybe it was Ernest’s idea. He did suggest it just prior to heading off to Europe as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War. Maybe he figured that overseeing the enormous project would keep her occupied and happy. Whatever the case, the boxing ring was moved off the property to make way for the new backyard focal point at 907 Whitehead.

Interesting facts about the year-long construction:

  • An initial estimated cost of eight thousand dollars
  • Intensive manual labor to dig the massive 64 feet by 24 feet hole through solid coral
  • intensive manual labor to dig and thread a pipe to the depth of the island’s water table
  • Actual cost was twenty thousand dollars
penny at hemingway swimming pool
Legend of the Penny

When Ernest returned home after the war, the guide said that the writer was angry to learn how much money Pauline had ended up paying for the swimming pool construction. And that since she seemed to be intent on spending every last penny he had, she might as well have it right then. In response, Pauline had the penny cemented into the patio.  I looked down and saw see there was, in fact, an old coin in the pathway. Whether it was put there by Hemingway or his wife for that reason, or by someone else to perpetuate the legend, I suppose we’ll never know. But, it was an interesting detail of our tour.

Twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money, even in 2016, and I’m hopeful the Hemingway family got plenty of use out of their investment. I was happy to see many photos throughout the house that showed them swimming in it or entertaining friends while they lounged beside it. I should’ve asked the guide if anyone ever swims in the pool now. It’s gorgeous, and with Key West’s balmy weather, I feel like it ought to be.

I plan to learn the answer to that question when we return to Key West later this summer, since our balcony of our bed & breakfast king suite just happens to overlook the famous Hemingway pool. I kid you not.  So, if you’re curious like me, stay tuned for the update.

Summer of Love Giveaway #1

I hope you enjoyed the very belated–but written with love–third installment about the Hemingway house in Key West, and that you’ll visit next week for the fourth and final one.   If you missed the first two posts, or it has been so long that you’ve forgotten whether or not you read them, feel free to hop on over to Hemingway’s Key West Studio and Hemingway House’s Fun Facts and Six-Toed Cats.

Patty Blount, YA Author
Patty Blount, YA Author

Before you go, leave a comment about today’s Hemingway post so you’re entered for a chance to win the first of my Summer of Love paperback and romance author swag giveaways.

This week’s prize for one USA resident who leaves a comment features an autographed copy of award-winning author, Patty Blount’s YA novel, TMI! The gift package will also include a few surprises, including Patty Blount and Jolyse Barnett swag. I’m excited to do my small part to spread a little summer love!

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in next Monday’s blog post. Winner will have one week to contact me via my website contact page or via my email address at and supply a valid US snail mail address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected.




Pin It For a Chance To Win It!

Pin it to Win it! I don’t know about you, but every winter about this time I get a tad antsy. I’m ready for a little excitement, a little something unexpected…a little fun.

AND if, like me, you’re unable to gallivant off on an exotic vacay whenever the whim strikes you,but you’d still appreciate a wee bit of me-time, why not do what I do? Escape home to a romantic read…

Pin it to Win it


Playing “Pin it To Win it!” could get you a free copy of ONE MORE SUNSET, my Key West romantic suspense!

Yeah, I’m a voracious reader, too! A few of the HOT destination romances I’ve devoured this winter are:

  • Life’s a Beach by Jamie K. Schmidt — This sexy little number is set in Hawaii. If you enjoy reading a racy romance with no-holds-barred sensuality, you’ll be an instant fan. I really enjoyed the plot, too. No, really, I swear. 😉
  • What the Lady Wants by Nika Rhone — Oh my, this contemporary romance brought back memories of Kevin Costner in the movie, The Bodyguard. Those mirrored sunglasses. I enjoyed the summer hanging-by-the-pool with Thea and her girlfriends and plotting how to finally get Brennan to acknowledge the girl who adored him from afar all these years. This was Nika’s debut contemporary romance with a suspense element. I’m excited to see what she has in store for us readers next.
  • Her Pirate from the Past by Caro Carson–SEXY pirate. Time-travel in South Carolina. Need I say more? Caro is a new-to-me author, and I’ll definitely check out more pirate-themed or time travel stories of hers for quick, light escapes.
  • Barefoot with a Bad Boy by Roxanne St. Claire –I’m so excited about this newest release (set in sunny Florida) by one of my go-to authors. You can bet it’s next in line on my Kindle. If you haven’t read Ms. St. Claire books before, she has dozens of incredible backlist choices. I especially enjoyed her Barefoot Bay Brides series. I’d suggest reading the prequel novella to this romance first though, FREE on Amazon Kindle. It’s self-standing. No annoying cliffhanger.
Sailboat at sunset
My cure for the winter blahs…Key West dreams.

“Pin It To Win It!” Details…

For a chance to win a signed paperback copy of my destination romance, One More Sunset, and a mystery box of escapist goodies for my WINTER BLAHS GIVEAWAY…all you have to do is:

  1. Subscribe to my spam-free newsletter.
  2. Comment below about your dream destination or hot book recommendation.
  3. Spread the love by tweeting, sharing, or pinning this blog post.

Contest Terms and Conditions…One USA entrant will be randomly selected from qualifying entries to receive the WINTER BLAHS GIVEAWAY PRIZE. Depending on total number of qualifying entries, up to three runner-up winners will be randomly selected to win their choice of ebook from the author’s backlist.  Giveaway will remain open until Sunday, March 13th and the winners will be announced on the Monday, March 14th blog. Good luck!

Cover Reveal…Taa-daa!


It’s not too late to join the party! Get all the details about the One More Sunset Cover Reveal Contest to be eligible to win a $10 Amazon gift card at my ONE MORE SUNSET RELEASE BASH. Hope to see you there!!

Write the five correct answers for the blog hop cover reveal on the contact form. Don’t worry, I won’t keep, sell, or distribute your email address that you place on the contact form. Just want to keep the answers private. 🙂  oxo, Jolyse

Hemingway House Fun Facts and Six-Toed Cats

Welcome to the second of four installments about Ernest Hemingway and his legendary life at the Key West property where he resided from 1931-1940. Today’s post highlights interesting facts from the tour of the author’s tropical home.  

  • The carved walnut headboard gracing the Hemingways’ bed was once the gate leading to a 17th-century monastery gate and purchased by Ernest while on tour through Spain.
  • Hemingway viewed polydactl cats as good luck. Today, there are approximately fifty descendants of his original pets in residence.
  •  Ernest suffered more than two hundred wounds while serving in WWI as a young man. During his long rehabilitation, he is reported to have fallen in love with his nurse, Agnes Von Karowsky, but she declined his proposal. (He’s also said to have gotten his revenge by “killing her off” in Farewell to Arms.)
  • The house has a full cellar, a rarity on the island of Key West, and was used as a wine cellar by the Hemingway family.
  • After his ex-wife Pauline died suddenly in 1951, Ernest inherited the house. His sons took over the care of the estate for him until it was sold to the current owner.

This slideshow includes a few of those very famous felines. There’s also a photo of the pet cemetery sign located at the edge of the property.

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Next time we’ll focus on the outside of Hemingway’s property, including the legend about his incredible swimming pool.

Giveaway Winner from March 9th Post…

Congratulations to AMANDA GARDNER! You’re the lucky winner of a $20 Amazon gift card I’m giving away today in celebration of literacy. Please contact me at to give me your email. Thanks to everyone for participating and for your patience waiting for this posting. (I can sometimes be the absent-minded writer with my head in my stories instead of the real-world. Sorry.) If you haven’t signed up for my spam-free newsletter, that’s the easiest way to stay on top of all Jolyse Barnett news. Just scroll down and enter your email address. Simple as that. Wishing you each a wonderful, productive season ahead! oxo Jolyse

Hemingway’s Key West Studio and Giveaway



Entrance of Hemingway House in Key West
Entrance to Hemingway House in Key West

Welcome to the first of four installments about Ernest Hemingway and his legendary life at the Key West property where he resided from 1931-1940. Today’s post introduces the American author’s tropical home and work space.  

At Entrance to House

Exterior of Hemingway HouseFor nine years, Ernest Hemingway lived in the large Spanish-style house located on Whitehead Street (shown above), with his second wife, Pauline, and their two sons. This relatively short period of the famous author’s life was also his most prolific and successful in literary terms, the home where he wrote To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and many acclaimed short stories such as Snows of Kilimanjaro.

A first edition of To Have and Have Not!
A first edition of To Have and Have Not!

The main house (which I’ll post about next week) was transformed into a museum after Bernice Dickson purchased the estate from Hemingway’s descendants.  Inside are a plethora of photos, pieces of art, furniture, and books. Lots and lots of books. My favorites, of course, were first editions written by the home’s famous former occupant. A tingle zipped down my spine when I spied a hardcover copy of Hemingway’s book, To Have and Have Not, which plays a major role in one of my yet-to-be-published Key West-based romantic suspense novels, in a story of my heart I call One More Sunset.

But I digress…

DSCN0013At thirty two years old, Hemingway was in his prime when he moved into the house built eighty years earlier by merchant seaman, Asa Tift. While Pauline took care of the boys, Ernest spent many hours each day drafting and revising before frequenting his favorite haunts, fishing, or otherwise carousing about town. By all accounts, he was a man’s man who lived by the motto, “Work hard, play harder.”

The property’s hayloft section of the property’s carriage house was converted into a bright and airy writing studio for Ernest, complete with lavatory. Today, a cluster of tropical bamboo stands where an elevated walkway once connected the second-story of the main house to his work space.

Backside of the Main House
Backside of the Main House

As we stepped outside from the main house to climb the stairs of the studio, I imagined the famous writer entering his studio and wondered what he would think of all these tourists invading his space. The answer, “I like it and I don’t” entered my thoughts. A contradictory sentiment, but perhaps one that would be felt by a man reported to have suffered from untreated bipolar disorder and seemed, in my estimation according to his life choices, to both crave and abhor his celebrity in equal measures.

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Outside Hemingway's Studio
Outside Hemingway’s Studio

Hospital WW1 PhotoAs shared in biographies and interviews with the author that I’ve read, Hemingway often wrote while standing to alleviate back problems related to his war injuries sustained during his service in WWI, however the studio’s present layout belies that research.

As I turned to leave, mulling over all I’d seen and heard during the tour’s first half, I sensed a man standing close behind me. Assuming it was another tourist, I encouraged my husband to take a quick picture so I could move out of the way. Turns out, no one was directly behind me. Was it my writer’s imagination, or something else?

Next week, join me as we explore the main house, including details about the estate’s famed six-toed residents.

Love of Literacy Giveaway…

I don’t know about you, but this winter in the Northeast US has been long, cold, and dreary. Whenever I wasn’t at the day job, working on writing projects, or busy with the family, I was reading.

A lot.

I read a grand total of ten books in the two months…all terrific experiences. To celebrate the wonderful world of literacy with you, one lucky reader will win a $20 Amazon gift card!The winner will be announced next Monday, March 16th. All you have to do to be eligible is be at least 18 years old and leave a comment below. You can share anything you love about books, the romance genre in particular, or how you feel about the arrival of a new season. Good luck and have a super week!