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


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?


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: 

Amazon Author Page


Karen Hulene Bartell said...

Thank you, Tracy, for hosting my "mews" and me today! It's always such a pleasure to chat with you ;)


Lovely place to write!

Karen Hulene Bartell said...

Many thanks, Jennifer! Appreciate your stopping by <3

D. V. Stone said...

Congratulations on your Books. Lovely post.

Mary Morgan said...

What a wonderful place to write, Karen. I so enjoyed your pictures. Wishing you all the best with your new book, too.

CB Clark said...

Sounds like a great place to work from home.

Karen Hulene Bartell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Donna - appreciate your kind words!

Karen Hulene Bartell said...

Mary, I appreciate your dropping by! Ya, my "mews" are a "huge" help to my writing <grin)

Karen Hulene Bartell said...

Christine, thank you for stopping by and commenting! Yes, if I have to be quarantined, I'm blessed to be surrounded by my "mews" <3

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