Thursday, March 26, 2020

Writing Spaces: Karen Hulene Bartell

Let's take a peek at the writing spaces of romance writer Karen Hurlene Bartell!

In Tuesday’s post, I blogged about A Day in the Life of Karen, illustrating my <ahem> “methodical” approach to writing, while dealing with rescued cats and dogs, who share my space ;)

Today, I’d like to show you that space—the cat-scratched, French-Provincial desk I hand-finished twenty-plus years ago, along with my desk mates, the “twins” (Marmalade and Habibi—Beloved in Arabic), the longhaired cat (Hui Gui, Chinese for Gray Ghost because we found him on Pentecost), and the catahoula leopard dog (Tory, short for Toreador because his brindle markings make him look like he’s wearing skin-tight toreador pants—and leopard because of his coat’s spots).

I call the cats and the catahoula leopard dog my “mews” because, despite their interruptions, they stimulate my creativity. Most of my novels include dogs, cats, or horses, and my critters are the models for their literary counterparts. Marmalade was the prototype for the empathetic cat in The Keys: Voice of the Turtle. Tory was the inspiration for the catahoula puppy in Wild Rose Pass. I based Holy Water: Rule of Capture on rescued wild horses from my past.

For years, I rescued and rehomed mustangs. Though horses no longer graze in the pasture, equine artwork surrounds me. From my desk, I see nine painted, cross-stitched, wood-worked, embroidered, or sculpted metal horses on my office walls. I no longer clean hooves, but I do dust horsey art.

Only a warning sign tilted against my bookcase remains from the days I gentled wild horses—UNDER TEXAS LAW (CHAPTER 87, CIVIL  PRACTICE AND REMEDIES CODE), A FARM ANIMAL PROFESSIONAL IS NOT LIABLE FOR AN INJURY TO OR THE DEATH OF A PARTICIPANT IN FARM ANIMAL ACTIVITIES. (Still have to chuckle when people walk into my office for the first time, see the sign, and do a double-take.)

Besides my critters, what else surrounds me? BOOKS! Four crowded bookcases flank the corners of my office, holding mostly nonfiction books for research or a sampling of the books I’ve written over the years. (I loan or donate any fiction I purchase.)

So I ask you, gentle reader. What better items to surround any author than books and critters? Okay, coffee—definitely, a cup of steaming coffee!


Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell

Blurb: 

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Excerpt:

Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”

Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”


Buy Links:

Wild Rose Pass (Trans-Pecos) on Kindle
Wild Rose Pass (Trans-Pecos) in Paperback

Barnes & Noble NOOK Book
Barnes & Noble Paperback


About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen: 

Facebook
Twitter 
Instagram
Goodreads
Website
Email
Amazon Author Page
Instagram
BookBub
LinkedIn
AUTHORSdb

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Day in the Life of Karen

Today, we get a glimpse into the furry life of romance writer Karen Hulene Bartell. On Thursday, we'll get a glimpse of her writing space, too!


Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here!

DAY IN THE LIFE OF KAREN and WILD ROSE PASS
by Karen Hulene Bartell

Welcome to my world—not normal by most standards—but my life as it is ;)

An oversized cup of steaming coffee beside me, I sit at the cat-scratched, French-Provincial desk that I hand-finished twenty-plus years ago. As I focus on my work-in-progress, I re-read—aka edit—yesterday’s words, so the process leads my imagination back into the story.

One of the twin tiger cats (litter siblings) climbs on my lap, interfering with the pull-out keyboard, while the other twin hisses at the longhaired cat in a territorial dispute over which lounges closest to me on the desk.

Our catahoula leopard dog lazes on his bed nearby until I accidentally rustle a paper. Then he pounces on my lap to “retrieve” it, pawing the lap cat and causing the desk cats to hiss in protest. I order the dog down, quiet the cats, position the keyboard, so my arms can reach it, and again try to find where I left off in my WOP.

Three sentences later, Facebook dings. I toggle to my page and respond. Then I remember I haven’t posted any marketing blurbs this morning. I cobble together the cover jpg and another photo, along with a slightly reworded message.

Ooops—I haven’t tweeted, either. So I pick out the day’s best hashtags, add the blurb and photos, and post the link on the WRP promo group’s page. Then I retweet the other authors’ tweets. That reminds me to repost my Facebook post to several groups.

Ten minutes later, I toggle back to my WOP, edit four sentences, and the dog whines. He has to go out. “You were just out a half hour ago. You can hold it.” I concentrate on the WOP, refusing to meet his stare.

He rests a paw on my shoulder, looks at me with his expressive brown eyes, and sneezes—a sure sign he really does have to go. I scoot the cat off my lap, who takes out his frustration on the other cats. I break up the spat, put on my coat, fix the dog’s collar and leash, and take him outside. He finds an acorn, sniffs deer poop, and rolls in the grass but shows no interest in going potty.

Ten minutes later, I re-read the same paragraph of my WOP for the seventh time, when the phone rings, disturbing the cat that’s climbing onto my lap. Caller ID displays Telemarketer, so I block the caller, sip the coffee, discover it’s cold, put the cat down, and go into the kitchen to reheat my coffee.

Ten minutes later, I focus on my WOP, re-reading the same paragraph for the eighth time, when…


Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell

Blurb: 

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Excerpt:

Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”

Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”


Buy Links:

Wild Rose Pass (Trans-Pecos) on Kindle
Wild Rose Pass (Trans-Pecos) in Paperback

Barnes & Noble NOOK Book
Barnes & Noble Paperback


About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen: 

Facebook
Twitter 
Instagram
Goodreads
Website
Email
Amazon Author Page
Instagram
BookBub
LinkedIn
AUTHORSdb

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Activities for Sheltering in Place

We've entered a new stage of life for all of us worldwide this week. The coronavirus (COVID-19), which I will abbreviate as CV, has impacted us all, and we're just in the beginning stages of dealing with it here in the United States.

I've always seen our country as being strong and resilient, but right now, the world is watching and we're whining about having to stay home with our kids.

When did "home" become a bad place to be? Why aren't our homes our sanctuaries and safe places? [And yes, I'm well aware that there are homes out there that aren't so safe or happy, but this blog post isn't directed to those.]

As I've watched this story unfold, I've seen countless memes and posts about things to do while we're "stuck at home." I've seen things like cleaning, organizing, binging on Netflix or family movies, homeschool, and as of last night, even putting out Christmas decorations. While none of these activities are bad, I'd like to recommend some other activities to make the most of this time.

The CV is not going away overnight. This outbreak, and the lingering effects of the outbreak, are not like a southern snow storm where we stay inside our houses for three days, build snowmen, go nuts for a time, watch as the snow and ice melt, and then head back to work and our normal lives. This is not the case with CV.

Now is the time to think LONG TERM about what this causes and how it will impact our daily lives, our daily well-being. Recovery will take time - recovery of illness, recovery of lost jobs and/or lost wages, recovery from loss - loss of people, loss of experiences, loss of milestones, loss of opportunities, loss of time. Depression will likely set in like never before.

But we can get a headstart on dealing with these eventualities by taking action now. Here are some ideas you can start doing right now:

1) Plant a garden.

I ordered these heirloom vegetable seeds this week, concerned that prices might rise if I waited too long. Another pack had risen dramatically, so it made sense to order now. And with the arrival of spring, it's time to get ready. I'll be a little late in starting seeds, but at this point, I can't worry about that. I just have to start now.

With heirloom seeds, you can save seeds from the produce or plants, and use them for next year's garden.

You don't need a farm or large acreage to grow food. One of my favorite books on this subject, and a go-to book for millions, is the The Backyard Homestead: How to Produce All the Food You Need on a Quarter Acre. But if you live in the city, or don't have access to land, you can still grow food in containers. There are several helpful books for this, even on Kindle, including: The Vegetable Container Gardening Guide: How to Grow Food in a Container Garden, and How to Grow Potatoes: Planting and Harvesting Organic Food from Your Patio, Rooftop, Balcony, or Backyard Garden. Lots of others, but this will be a good start.

Learning how to garden makes a great family project - even in the research and planning. Get your family involved and let family members pick some of the produce.  This will help them take ownership in the success of your garden.

I also got some gardening soil. We're currently at my sister's and mom's house, and they have a fenced backyard that we may end up utilizing, but for now, we're going to grow as much as we can in a raised bed garden and in flower pots of all shapes and sizes, and a few 5-gallon buckets for potatoes and tomatoes.

I'm honestly not sure if we have enough, but it's better than nothing.

As your garden grows, learn about canning and freezing and preserving the food.

2) What about Protein? Have you ever considered raising chickens? I've thought about it for years, but I think I'm afraid of them. (My son laughs at my fear!) But I read someone's post yesterday and learned there's such a thing as "gentle, sweet" chickens, so I'm now exploring that. I just don't want to get in a chicken fight! Chickens provide eggs almost all year long, and reproduce so you can use some for meat and keep some for laying eggs. Both great sources of protein.

Do you own a rifle? Learning how to shoot it and how to kill wildlife for food would be beneficial. I love critters, so please don't attack me for suggesting this. But if you need to feed your family, this is something to consider. But please, please follow guidelines, seasons, and limits, because they were all put into place for a reason. And be sure you have a hunting license, too.

What about fishing? Do you own fishing tackle? (Fishing line and a hook is all you need, but a fishing rod and reel actually makes it a little easier and more fun.) I bought myself a Zebco 33 reel for my birthday a couple of years ago - Zebco 33 has always been my favorite reel, so when I needed a new one, I just replaced it. They also have a rod and reel combo with the platinum version, too.

Do you have enough property for a goat or two? They produce milk and can provide protein if you choose that route.

3) Learn how to do something you've never done before. We're cooks in our family, so asking these next two questions is odd for me, but do you know how to cook? Do your children know how to cook? And I don't mean cooking boxed or canned goods. I'm talking about real cooking. Maybe now is the time to learn how to bake bread, or make cinnamon rolls. Start with basics though - like scrambled eggs. Do you and your children know how to scramble eggs? boil eggs? poach eggs? fry eggs? (One of my favorite movie scenes is in Runaway Bride when Julie Roberts' character realizes she doesn't know which kind of egg is her favorite.) In recent years, I've taught myself how to make risotto that Gordon Ramsay might possibly praise (okay, maybe I'm dreaming, but it's really great!), I've learned how to bake artisan bread, and will be making my very sourdough starter for the first time this week.

What about candles? We made candles when we homeschooled, and it was fun and easy to do. We tried different methods with them, too, so we had variety.

One of my next projects is learning how to make soap. I've been exploring options - goat milk, donkey milk, coconut milk, essential oils - to find out what might work best for different things. I was gifted with some donkey milk soap, and my skin loves it. I could probably go broke buying all the fun soap making supplies, but I understand it can be made just as easily with only the basics. So I'm exploring what to do first.

Have you ever made your own laundry detergent or shampoo? I've made homemade laundry detergent before, but I need to explore that some more, because we weren't thrilled with the first batch. It didn't seem to get the clothes very clean, so I need to find a better recipe. But I have been making my own shampoo (from the Wellness Mama - great resource for lots of things!) for a couple of years, and still love it. The kind I make right now uses coconut milk but I am also considering using goat milk in the future.

What about woodcarving or leather crafting? Tim has started woodcarving the last couple of years and he loves it. My family gave him some woodcarving tools for Christmas and he's been working on replacing some kitchen knife handles for my sister.

Learn first aid. How to splint broken bones, stop blood from flowing, and so much more. These kinds of skills could come in handy.

Now is a great time to set up a new exercise routine. Go back to the basics - calisthenics like we did in school. Lift weights.

Journaling is also a good, and helpful, practice. Not only will you be recording history as it unfolds before us, but writing down everything going will help you remember later, and will help you process everything as it happens. (Shameless plug: I have several prayer journals and a Bible reading journal that might be of use. You'll find them on my Amazon author page.)

Don't forget art - oil, acrylic, or watercolor painting, sketching, photography, dancing, music, writing, pottery, sculpture. I'll do a separate post on that later, because this one is long enough, and the subject of art is massive.

There are so many sources available in books and online to learn about everything under the sun. YouTube can be your friend, and so can Kindle. Some libraries are offering whole collections of books online now. If you can't find something, ask me. I'd love to help you find something you want to learn about.

My whole point is - use this time wisely. Think of the coming months and how life could change for all of us. Everything I've mentioned above could be used to provide for your family in some way, either through sales, services, or bartering. Learning new skills provides you with skills others may not have. Teaching your kids skills will prepare them better for life.

My friend Gina wrote a comment on a Facebook post just as I was finishing up this article, and it summed everything up so well, I asked for permission to share. Gina wrote: "Great good will come at the end of this. Although it will not be easy. Many people will die. There will be years of hardship. But adversity is what the greatest generation was made from. At the end of this, manufacturing jobs will come back to our country. We will be growing our own food again. Parents will be raising their own kids because they can now. We will realize our own potential and self sufficiency . And hopefully, most importantly, we will come back to God. He desperately wants us to."

Indeed. Thanks, Gina.

Let's dig in and do this, and come out on the other side better than ever before.











Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Preparing is NOT Panic

I’m not afraid of getting the Coronavirus, I’m not afraid of dying (if you’d like to know why, send me a note). I’m not panicked about the illness, not panicked about anything.

I am concerned though, at the thought that I, or that anyone else, could be a carrier of
this virus to my loved ones, without even knowing it, because of the germs picked up somewhere randomly. So yes, please wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and please, please stay home if you are sick. Now is NOT the time to go visiting, NOT the time to go shopping, NOT the time to party. Now is NOT the time to “push through” the sickness to be a superhero at work. IF YOU ARE SICK, STAY HOME.

But I have been preparing, and will continue to prepare as the need arises. Not out of fear, but prudence.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve observed people on social media and in the public ridicule and mock people who decided to stock up in case of possible quarantine due to the Coronavirus that is rapidly spreading worldwide.

When did preparing for anything become taboo? For decades, Scouts were taught to be prepared. Why do we dis that notion today?

Could people possibly not understand or grasp the reality that we could be quarantined?

Have you ever been quarantined inside your home for three weeks or more?

Most of us have not, so this is new territory for us all. This should go without saying, but for clarity: being quarantined means you cannot run to the store to restock. Being quarantined means you must shelter in place, not able to leave.

Before you judge, mock, or ridicule, consider this:

Some of us are responsible for those who are at the greatest risk, and because we take our responsibility seriously, we want to do everything possible to make a home quarantine as stress-free as it possibly can be for our loved ones. This means not having to figure out in the middle of the quarantine how we’re going to eat, or how we’ll manage without toilet paper if we can’t run to the store when we get down to the last roll.

Do you know how much toilet paper you personally use in a week? How long will your current supply last? What is your back up plan should you run out of toilet paper before the quarantine ends?

You answered the question for yourself, and you were honest and said you could “suck it up, buttercup,” at whatever is thrown your way. But now answer those questions for everyone in your household. Do you still have enough to last for three weeks or more?

Now answer the questions for your elderly parent(s) and grandparent(s). Do they know how much toilet paper they’ll use in a week’s time? Do they have a supply? Do they have a backup plan?

What about medications? I’m currently in a household of four, with two over the age of 70. One of the four is chronically sick and mentally ill, taking upwards of 20 meds per day (don’t get me started – I’m not a fan!). Another of the four is diabetic. Another has autoimmune issues. Do you have an adequate supply of medication for everyone in your household? What’s your backup plan if you/they run out?

What about feminine products? Pads and tampons? Back up plan?

What about baby formula, baby food, diapers? Back up plan?

What about food? Is the food in your pantry, fridge, freezer enough to feed everyone in your household for three weeks or longer? What’s your backup plan if it isn’t?

What about income? Are you prepared to go three weeks or longer without an income? Most of us are not, so preparing for that scenario may be more of a challenge, but face it head on before you have no choice.

What about water? Normally, in any preparation plans, water should be at the very top of the list. With a possible quarantine due to the Coronavirus, stocking water isn't as crucial as it would be for hurricanes or nuclear disaster, because most likely, we won't lose our current water supply during quarantine. But for other preparations, do you have enough water supply or a safe means to acquire enough water to last the duration? Drinking water, flushing water, wash water (bathing, dishes, clothing) should all be taken into consideration for planning.

Being prepared is wise, responsible, thoughtful, and compassionate. Being prepared now will save you time, money, and stress in the long run. Preparing is not panicking, and in fact, preparing ahead of time offers a great sense of relief when you’ve done all you know to do, all you can do, to get ready for whatever happens. Being prepared is being RESPONSIBLE.