Thursday, September 27, 2012

BTS Tours Presents "Pearls: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore" by Bonsue Brandvik Guest Post

Let me say up front that if you follow my blog, you know that paranormal is not something I normally support and post on my blog.  I will sometimes do it as a favor to the book company or author.  And in this case, it goes even further.  I used to live in Florida, and I remember the Biltmore Hotel.  The cause is important historically speaking, so I know I wanted to promote this book.

Title:  Pearls: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore
Author:  BonSue Brandvik
Publisher: Self
Length:  317 pages
Sub-Genres: Paranormal, Ghosts



Software developer Honor Macklin believes she’s equal business partners with her philandering ex-husband, but when family responsibilities take her to Florida, she discovers her ex may have cheated her in more ways than one. Spirits at the Belleview Biltmore hotel try to help Honor by invading her dreams to share memories from the life of Darcy Loughman, a young Victorian woman with big problems of her own. When the two worlds collide, Honor and her new lover, Josh, along with his clairvoyant four-year-old son, try to figure out how Honor can use lessons from the past to change her destiny.

The setting for this novel is the famous and currently endangered historic Belleview Biltmore Resort in Belleair, FL. The hotel was built in 1896 by one of Florida’s founding fathers, Henry B. Plant. The author is working with preservationists, hoping to find investors willing to save the wonderful, 820,000 sq. ft. hotel from demolition.


Late in the afternoon, Honor Macklin took her checklist list out of her pocket and with a triumphant flourish, checked off the item “Clean-out Mom’s Kitchen.” Then she gathered up the day’s treasures, including the antique journal, and put them in her car. Remembering her hotel room at the Belleview Biltmore was quite chilly the night before, she went to her mother’s closet and grabbed an old-fashioned flannel granny-gown to sleep in, and then drove the short distance back to the hotel to order room service.
Belly full, bathed and dressed in her mother’s old flannel gown, Honor snuggled under the goose-down comforter, against the oh-so-soft pillows and began to read the faded text in the old journal. It began, “I long for a world so different than the one I inhabit…”
As she began to drift off to sleep, Honor became aware of a chill in the air and she heard voices coming from… coming from where? The hallway? Her suite? She tried to focus on the conversation.
“She has the journal. It’s time for her to know everything,” a woman’s voice said.
Honor rose from her bed to investigate and was amazed to find two women sitting in her parlor, clothed in full Victorian dress. Then it slowly began to sink in. They weren’t exactly what you would call solid.
“Who… what…” stammered Honor, startled almost beyond words.
“Good evening, darlin’,” the larger of the two women greeted her. “I’m Margaret and this is…well, this is Darcy. We see you’ve found her journal, gone from sight these many years.”
Margaret turned to face the thin, older woman. “It’s time, Darcy. You know it’s the right thing to do.”
“But what if she doesn’t understand?” The older woman looked worried. Her anguished eyes locked on Honor.
“She comes from good stock. She’ll understand,” the plump woman replied.
Suddenly, Honor found herself inexplicably fading from her hotel room, into a fog. She floated through the mist, enjoying the sensation. When the fog lifted, she was sitting at a cast-iron garden table with a cool breeze caressing her face.
She felt dizzy and a bit sick to her stomach, as if she had just stepped off a roller coaster. Desperately, she tried to orient herself to her new situation by focusing on a pink hibiscus bush nearby. She heard someone call out from a nearby path.
“A grand afternoon to you, Madam Darcy.”
Honor turned toward the voice and saw the heavyset woman who had called herself Margaret, waving at Darcy, who was seated across from Honor at the garden table.
Honor’s mouth hung open as she gazed beyond the courtyard to the original Belleview Hotel. She felt Darcy’s eyes upon her, pulling her attention back across the table.
Darcy spoke as though they were still in Honor’s hotel room, seemingly unaware their location had changed, or that she appeared to be several decades younger than she had been only moments ago…


Kobo Reader


   When I entered this world, I was either the most hideous thing to ever exit a woman’s body in a delivery room, or the most beautiful baby ever born. It’s a matter of perspective. You see, I was born in the days when Mother Nature (not doctors) decided birthdates, so even though I was due in early June, I was born August 17th.  I was so far overdue that I was born fat and in need of a manicure, pedicure, hairstylist and body-hair removal. From my Mom’s perspective, she had somehow birthed a monkey. From the medical staff’s perspective, I needed a good cleaning. They knew the downy hair would come right off my body and that my long, black hair, once pulled off my face and into a little palm-tree ponytail, would look just fine. So when my dad saw me for the first time, his perspective was that I was the cutest, chubby-cheeked, ponytailed baby in the world.


   In the battle of preservationists verses developers, the Belleview Biltmore Hotel is either a one-of-a-kind, priceless historic gem in the heart of Belleair, Florida, or it is an abandoned building that has outlived its usefulness. Again, it’s all a matter of perspective. 

   When I first learned about the battle between preservationists and developers over the fate of the Belleview Biltmore, I visited the hotel to gain my own perspective. I was awed by the beauty of the hotel and immediately overwhelmed by the echoes of those who have gone before. After one tour, my perspective aligned with preservationists and I knew I must help save the hotel. I was also inspired to write stories about people who might have visited and/or worked there in days gone by, and whose spirits never left the hotel.

   Once I was smitten by the Belleview Biltmore, I started collecting historic information, photographs, and the stories/personal memories of previous hotel guests, workers and people who lived in the surrounding community. I also collected a lot of reports from ghost hunting professionals, previous hotel guests, and employees who reported ghostly encounters at the Belleview Biltmore. From their perspective, numerous spirits still occupy the hotel.

   But the battle over the fate of the hotel rages on. The majestic Belleview Biltmore hotel has become run-down during the last twenty years. The reason this happened is, once again, a matter of perspective. Developers claim the reason proper maintenance wasn’t kept up is because the hotel couldn’t draw enough customers to pay for necessary upkeep/maintenance costs. From the preservationists’ perspective, the developers who had ownership of the hotel, intentionally failed to maintain it because they hoped (and still hope) to demolish the building and replace it with townhomes.

   Several companies have studied the hotel and its economic viability, and all have concluded that the hotel structure remains sound and if restored, the hotel would be competitive in the local market.  From the perspective of developers, renovating the hotel is still too risky an investment. From the perspective of preservationists, restoration of the historic hotel is the only acceptable outcome.  
   Potential buyers, whose perspective agrees with the companies who say that the hotel’s renovation is a viable option, have stepped forward, hoping to buy the hotel and complete the renovation. The Belleview Biltmore Partners (BBP) group is in the process of trying to assemble a group of investors to purchase and renovate the hotel. And there you have it. The issue of the hotel’s fate may eventually be settled, based on yet another groups’ perspective – investors. Will they agree with the perspective held by preservationists or developers? Only time will tell. 

   Meanwhile, I will be writing stories about fictional spirits at the Belleview Biltmore and continuing to try to save the historic hotel, in the hope that the real spirits can remain there for a least another hundred years.


   In the year 1896, railroad tycoon Henry Plant and his wife, Margaret, built the Belleview Hotel as a winter resort for the extraordinarily wealthy.  A study, commissioned by Plant, determined the highest coastal bluff in Florida benefited from more days of sunshine than any other location in the state. Plant bought the bluff and built the Belleview and the surrounding town of Belleair. The hotel was completely self-sufficient and guests enjoyed every luxury imaginable at the time. By the mid-1920s, the size of the hotel had doubled; making it the largest occupied wooden structure in the world, and it had been added to the Biltmore hotel chain. During WWII, the hotel served as quarters for the Army Air Corps and a few years later, the property was expanded to include beach property. The hotel’s prestigious guest list includes US Presidents, British Royalty, and a host of celebrities. For more information/pictures, check out: Or

BonSue Brandvik has lived in Pinellas County for the past 35 years. She and her husband, John, built their home in Belleair 16 years ago. They have one daughter and son-in-law, who also reside in Pinellas County.
BonSue earned her Associate’s degree at St Petersburg College and then pursued a Liberal Arts degree at the University of Tampa.
The majority of BonSue’s business career has been dedicated to the field of Human Resources. In 2004, she left her position as Director of HR for TBE Group, in order to start a home-based HR consulting business. As sole proprietor of HR Helping Hands, BonSue offers HR services on an as-needed basis, to companies too small to hire a full-time HR manager. She also became involved with local government and currently serves as the Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board in Belleair.
BonSue volunteers as a court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem, advocating for children who come into the court system primarily as a result of alleged abuse or neglect. She also volunteers as a docent at the Heritage Village Living History Museum in Largo and she leads a writers’ critique group called Clearwater Writers Meet-Up.
Over the course of the last year, BonSue has become involved in the cause to protect, preserve and restore the historic Belleview Biltmore Hotel; the inspiration for a series of novels she is currently writing. She published the first novel in the series, titled “Pearls: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, Book One,” earlier this year. “Pearls” has earned several outstanding reviews, creating a demand for the next book in the series, “Ripples”, which she hopes to finish within the next year.
BonSue also wrote and illustrated a children’s educational and interactive workbook, titled “Where Do You Live, Exactly?” which uses the principle of the Russian nesting doll, to reduce the size of the universe one page at a time, until at the end of the book, the child reaches his/her own home.
BonSue offers to speak to groups on a variety of topics, including: The History of Florida, The Historic Belleview Biltmore Resort, and How to Weave Historic Facts into Works of Fiction.  
When it comes to leisure activities, BonSue enjoys reading, photography, gardening, golf, camping, and helping care for the family koi pond. She is also addicted to Facebook and the on-line game, “Words with Friends.”

Author Links:
Twitter: @BonSueB

Interested in checking out the entire tour?  Click here.

1 comment:

  1. Ruth - Thank you so much for hosting me on your site today. It's wonderful to find someone who knows about the historic Belleview Biltmore out here in cyberspace! ...BonSue


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Your Ad Here