Sunday, January 17, 2021

Still Have A Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is known as a Day On, not a Day Off.

Inviting you to browse the important information at The King Center site

A world that reflects the Beloved Community where all people are valued, respected and treated with dignity.

Each year, The King Center in Atlanta leads the nationwide observance of the national holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The theme and call to action, for the 2021 Observance is “The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community!”

Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.

Learn more about Coretta Scott King, one of the most influential women leaders in the world.

And learn about The National Women's Hall of Fame - Women who have transformed America in enduring ways, including Coretta Scott King

Showcasing great women and inspiring all.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Bayside Breeze

In Bayside we're looking forward to the mysteries of a new year. We're on the brink of new adventures, toes curled over the edge and ready to dive in. 

Our New Year's Eve celebration includes a favorite drink for a midnight toast - The Bayside Breeze. 

This tasty treat is so easy to make at home. It's a mix of vodka, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and orange bitters. Shake it together. Yum!

Be sure to drink responsibly, and be prepared for our stories to come, by catch up on your reading:

Purse-Stachio Makes A Splash - prequel novella

Kat Out of the Bag - exciting first book of The In Purse-Suit Mysteries

And to follow . . . . a sequel is coming

Wishing you a very happy, novel new year of 2021!

Cheers to that!

Bayside Breeze . . . . 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Christmas Legend - The Three Purses & Turkish Purses Today

There was an ancient town of Myra, which is now called Demre and is located in the country of Turkey. From this town there comes an ancient Christmas legend of The Three Purses - 

In this small town  lived a noble man who had lost his fortune. He could no longer afford food and clothing for his family of  three daughters, who were as noble as their father. His daughters were of an age to marry, but the poverty was a barrier in those days because the father could not afford their dowries. The family grew desperate. 

Saint Nicholas, who was then the bishop of Myra, heard about the plight of this family and decided to rescue them. However, he did not want to approach the nobleman and offer him help, as he knew that such an approach would be politely turned down. So, he made up his mind to do it anonymously and secretly.

One night St. Nicholas visited the house and threw a silken purse filled with gold on the eldest daughter's bed. The next morning when she found it, the family was overjoyed and bought some food and clothes for themselves. The eldest daughter could now marry. 

A second night, St. Nicholas threw another silken purse of gold on the bed of the second daughter. The family was delighted and she also married. 

The nobleman had grown suspicious and wanted to track down their secret patron. He hid beneath window, the third night and waited. When St. Nicholas came to throw the third silken purse of gold, the nobleman leaped out and thanked him for his kindness. St. Nicholas requested the nobleman not reveal his good deeds to anyone. He told him it was his duty to help the needy.

As this story evolved it was told that St. Nicholas passed silken purses of gold through the kitchen chimney which landed in the stockings of the daughters. The stockings were kept under the chimney for drying.

St. Nicholas, came to be known as Santa Claus. St. Nicholas/Santa is a generous person, known for his charity and benevolence.

So What Do Purses Look Like In Turkey Today?

Here are four of Turkey's purse designers - 

Güneş Mutlu founded handbag brand Mehry Mu in 2009. Characterised by boxy, sculptural bags, often featuring wicker and woven details, velvet and embroideries, Mehry Mu was created from Mutlu’s love of fabrics. Eastern design is very much part of the brand’s aesthetic, and influences from colorful Istanbul and Morocco. Functional design and effortless styles.

Sisters Beste and Merve Manastır founded Manu Atelier in 2014 to promote handicrafts and pay tribute to their father, who is a renowned leather goods craftsman. Their boxy, structured styles are available in a wide variety of colors perfect for the modern woman.

Sanayi 313 is an accessories brand for the fashion-forward individual. Launched in 2015, the label offers a ready-to-wear line designed by Serena Uziyel; every piece is handmade by skilled artisans, in processes that can take around 100 hours. Uziyel previously worked for luxury brands including Alberta Ferretti before teaming up with interior architect Enis Karavil, who set up Sanayi 313 in Istanbul. Since last season, the brand has been focusing on expanding its handbag line with the creation of three new shapes.

Meb Rure founded Mlouye in 2015 in Turkey and has excellent quality and design at its heart. Mlouye offers styles in monthly drops rather than following trends. The Lantern bag was inspired by a classic lampshade and is made of smooth, sturdy Italian leather. The label’s sculptural bags are connected to Rure’s background in industrial design – works of art that fit together playfully.

Best wishes to You In Purse-Suit of a 

Happy Holiday Season 

and A Fabulous New Year Ahead

Monday, November 23, 2020

Giving Thanks! And Sarah Josepha Hale

 Wendy Kendall:  I have so very much to be grateful for. Part of my joy is that I'm eternally thankful for all my readers. I love hearing from you all who tell me how much you've enjoyed Kat Out of the Bag and also the recently released prequel Purse-Stachio Makes A Splash, which also appears in the anthology A Taste of Danger with two fellow The Wild Rose Press authors' wonderful stories - Julie Howard and Peggy Chambers

I had so much fun writing these stories! And more are on the way!

Thank You for enjoying my books and blog. Wishing you a Happy Holiday Thanksgiving!

Here's the story of the extraordinary woman behind the push for a National Thanksgiving Holiday, and a special purse of her time . . . .

Sarah Josepha Hale

She was widowed in 1822, single parenting 5 children. Her many accomplishments including publishing poetry, a novel, and a second book of poetry that included the familiar - Mary Had a Little Lamb .

By 1828 she became the first American woman editor of a magazine - Boston's Ladies' Magazine. By 1837 she merged her magazine with another creating the most popular fashion magazine of the 19th century - Godey's Lady's Book.

The magazine was famous for its drawings of women dressed in the newest fashions. Those illustrations were produced by engraving a sheet of flat metal called a "plate" in the shape of that woman model. That flat metal sheet the image was reprinted into the pages of the magazines. The images were then meticulously colored by hand. In the past, have you ever heard of a woman referred to as a fashion plate? This process is the origin of that saying.

Sarah Josepha Hale also campaigned President Lincoln persistently to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She pitched the idea as something that would bring the country divided by the civil war back together again. Lincoln issued the proclamation in 1863.

Here's text from a page right out of her own magazine, showing the fashionable Marguerite Pouch, an oval shaped purse and a style which is still sold today:

Our pattern is in dark blue velvet, lined with white silk. The ornaments, the lock and chain, are in steel. The velvet may be worked with a pattern in braiding or beads, the stars with steel beads, the steel hanging ornaments replaced by tassels made with steel beads, and the chain by blue velvet ribbon now so much in vogue. They make a pretty finish to a linsey dress.

Thank you to Pinterest for this photo:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Designing Women

Nigerian Handbag DesignerNuciano is an award-winning luxury handbag label based in Seattle, that offers women a freedom of expression in uncompromised high quality and luxury handbags without the usual exorbitant price tags. Wendy Kendall in Purse-suit of Fashion had the privilege of chatting with founder Joy Egbejimba award-winning purse designer.  Wendy Kendall In Purse-Suit of Fashion with Joy Egbejimba - enjoy our fun chat
From desk-to-dinner, the selected curated collection features elegant designs with a variety of fierce color options.  Recommend you have more fun by browsing online -

In just 5 years Nuciano designs have become so well known and they accessorize Hollywood red carpets and are truly an iconic fashion statement. Joy has been quoted as saying, “A handbag is something that defines a woman’s style, her journey and story.” 

Beautifully expressed. I feel that way too and wrote my mystery Kat Out of the Bag with that in mind..

Nuciano Scholars ProgramThe characters in the mystery book Kat Out of the Bag, donate purses, other accessories and dresses for high school students' homecoming. 

In real life, Joy E. generously gives back her time and resources in so many ways including Nuciano Scholars? You'll be interested to read all about this valuable cause.

Joy E. also gives back to the local Seattle community. In just one example a news report spoke of her donation of beautiful leather handbag gifts to three women who had just finished a drug recovery program. The women speak with emotion of how it made them feel worthwhile and hopeful, to go from having nothing to receiving a gift like this. Hope is such a powerful gift to give. And Nuciano gives customers the opportunity to gift hope too, by purchasing from Nuciano, and specifically buying the Hope Tote where 100% of proceeds go to breast cancer awareness Cancer Aware Foundation.
Aurene Handbag in Orange Pebble Grain Leather

Tatum Handbag in Pebble Grain and Nappa Leather - Nuciano Handbags

Only top grade, and gorgeous leathers! The Tatum and Aurene handbags are especially delightful. 

For big bag girls there are the Angelique Totes. Great organization, room for a favorite mystery paperback, and even padded protection for electronic devices. 

Prisca in Croc Patterned Leather - Nuciano Handbags

The signature collection is fabulous. Check out this incredible, deep caramel color 

Goddess Clutch - Nuciano Handbags
And oh! The crystals collection. Such sparkle! 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Salute To Veterans

Katherine: On Veterans Day - Thank You to all Veterans for your service and Thank You also for those who are serving.

Jason Holmes: I wholeheartedly join you in that Thank You.

Katherine: The sacrifice made by these individuals, and by their families is awe inspiring. And in our book Kat Out of the Bag, we do reveal that you are a Veteran yourself, Jason. You fulfilled your service partnered with a U.S. military service dog. Those are amazing animals.

Jason: Yes, my German Shepherd partner Robby.

Katherine: Thanking a Veteran or Person currently in service by phone or online or in person if they're in your family is such a wonderful, and heartfelt sentiment. There are also some helpful organizations for Veterans and for those in service and their families that you can donate to on this important day.

Jason: Great idea.

Katherine: I recently discovered an exciting group I'm donating to - R. Riveter American Handmade Handbags. 

Jason: Leave it to you Katherine to find a handbag way to help those in service.

Katherine: The company is a network of military spouses known as Riveters all across the country. "R.Riveter doesn't hire military spouses to make handbags. We make handbags to hire military spouses, and create a greater sense of mission." They encompass the memories of Veterans and military spouses from all eras too. Their slogan is - 

Of Many One.

Katherine: Their bags are incredible, and the styles are all inspired by women Veterans from present day and from all eras. Talk about matching personalities and bags! Learn more about their story here. And you can shop their handbags, accessories, and other products hereWhile striving to empower military spouses through mobile and creative career opportunities,  R. Riveter also makes an effort to partner with like minded Non-Profit, Veteran Owned & Military Spouse founded organizations. I'm headed online to shop now.

Katherine and Jason: Thank You for Your Service!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Gertrude Ederle - England or Drown

Katherine: This past weekend would have been the birthday of a fabulous woman and athlete - Gertrude Ederle who was the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel.

MJ:  Yes, during the 1920's extreme challenges were a true fad. Some were less serious dares like setting the record for amount of time sitting in a tree. 

Katherine:  I know from our prequel Purse-Stachio Makes a Splash that accepting a dare has unexpected consequences.

MJ:  Gertrude Ederle was 20 years old in 1926 when she waded into the sea in Cape Gris-Nez, France. She walked up the beach at Kingsdown, England 21 miles and  14 hours, 34 minutes later. Not only did she make it, she broke the existing record by 2 hours! She said her motto was England or drown! She was from New York, a butcher's daughter.

Katherine:  Before the channel swim, she was an Olympic champion swimmer, winning one gold medal and 2 bronze medals.

MJ:  Beyond her silk swimsuit, her skin was covered with grease to ward off hypothermia with all the hours in the 60 degree August water. Her record time wasn't beat until 1950 by Florence Chadwick, another American woman who swam the channel in 13 hours and 20 minutes.

Katherine:  Gertrude wore glass aviator goggles sealed with wax against the salt water. The goggles are at the Smithsonian. During our mystery Kat Out of the Bag, I patented a method for full water proofing for purses and wallets. It certainly comes in handy. Gertrude may have liked to carry one of those too.

MJ:  During Gertrude's 1920's handbags were pretty much just bags you carried in your hand with not much in them most popular were those with short straps or handles, nothing that could go over the shoulder. The bag part could be a variety of shapes though. Not much variety in color though: black, brown, tan, red tinged brown, and grey. And the most common leather was calfskin, pigskin, or the cheaper sheepskin.

Katherine:   Yes, but textured lizard, alligator, crocodile, and snakeskin started to make an appearance mid-decade. And this is when clutch bags grew in popularity. But a big breakthrough came at the end of the decade. It was none other than Coco Chanel who was inspired in design from the military messenger bag and she added long thin straps to her bag and in 1929 introduced the first shoulder bag. So Coco Chanel - practicality and style.

MJ:  She inspires my meditation for today. I love her quote - "Don't spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door."

Katherine: Evening bags were the stars of the 1920's. Beading and metalwork replaced embroidery in popularity. Here's a great example, just 7 inches tall and 4 1/2 inches across. Very delicate and fancy and flapperish. It was a purse similar to this one that Amber found in the donation box for our Purse-onality Purse and Women's History museum that started her and Michael investigating a mystery of their own, a historical mystery while I worked on the mystery of Brenda's killer. Kat Out of the Bag is truly a double mystery.

MJ:  Here's commemorating Gertrude Ederle on what would have been her birthday weekend. She died at the age of 98 in 2003. She'd had a brief, exciting time appearing in Vaudeville. She'd had poor hearing since childhood due to measles, and by the 1940's she was almost completely deaf. That's when she started teaching swimming to deaf children. Well done, Gertrude Ederle. And here's a cheer to all  training and competing women swimmers.

Katherine:  Whatever dream you pursue, go ahead and get your feet wet. Let Gertrude Ederle be part of your inspiration.

Friday, October 9, 2020

National Handbag Day & The Haunted Purse

Katherine: October's here, one of my favorite months. Happy National Handbag Day! I'm celebrating with everyone. It was a most memorable National Handbag Day when I opened my Purse-onality Purse Museum of Women's History in Bayside. That launched a fabulous fashion history icon, and a mystery to match, Kat Out of the Bag. For this year I'm featuring vintage handbags. See my gorgeous, vintage Judith Leiber clutch. Satin material is so soft to the touch and it's classic shape, with a delicate gold chain. Look at how small though! Not even room for your cell. Look at that dazzling clasp though. It shines in the light like a lighthouse. All you need is a gentle push down on it to open, and push together the top two sides to close again.

Amber: I love October too with the fall colors, cute sweaters to wear, and oh those scents and tastes from the kitchen. Apple cider is one of my favorites. And with the longer evenings my thoughts turn to hauntings and tales of mystery.

Katherine: Vintage and mystery go together . . . .

Amber:  Like the mystery I discovered about the note in the vintage 1920's bag donated to the Purse Museum.

Katherine: That's why I wanted you to meet my new friend Libby Dawson. Of all places, I met her at a vintage purse store. She's in college too. I told her about you and that you're managing the museum gift shop between your classes.

Amber: Hi Libby. Vintage purses can be pretty cool. Did you find anything you liked there?

Libby:  Hi, Amber—it’s great to meet another college gal! And I’m so happy to be here at the Purse-onality Purse Museum. This place is amazing! Yes, Amber, the vintage purse shop had some very cool stuff. I didn’t buy anything, though. I was looking for something very specific: a purse like one I used to own. I don’t know if Katherine told you, but I used to have a purse that was haunted. I got rid of it a while back because keeping it got to be too painful, but sometimes I really miss it. I’d love to have a non-haunted version of it.

Katherine: Purses do reflect the personalities of their owners, and their histories are so fascinating, they can fill a museum! Can you describe what the purse looks like? What first attracted you to it?

Libby:  Honestly, Katherine, it was love at first sight. I was at a thrift store, and the second I laid eyes on it, I was like, “I am not leaving here without that purse. Even if I have to use the last of my grocery money to pay for it!” It was obviously decades old. A little raggedy (like me). But, oh, was it cute! Faded blue denim, with studs and rhinestones and embroidered hearts on the front. The back had these two big patch pockets, which made it look like the butt part of a pair of jeans. And it was huge. I actually used it as a book bag for school.

Amber: Wow! Love it! What made you first realize you purse was haunted? Where were you? Did it scare you?

Libby:  Believe it or not, the weirdness started that day at the thrift store, while I was in the checkout line! The purse had been totally empty when I’d first picked it up. But while I was waiting in line, I found a half-empty bottle of perfume inside. A little while later, an old photo of a girl turned up. And the magic tricks didn’t stop there. Over the next few weeks, stuff I put inside the purse would disappear and later reappear—like my homework, for instance. After a while, I just couldn’t deny the truth: something mystical was going on. But was I scared? Not really. It was more like, “I have a supernatural purse? How cool is that!”

Amber: Did you think you were going crazy?

Libby:  Not crazy so much as careless. I was like, “Why am I suddenly losing things?” It was actually a relief to find out the purse was doing it. And after a while, my stuff stopped going missing. It was like now that the purse had my attention, we could move on to other things. To the real agenda. I started finding strange items in the purse, and eventually I realized they were clues to a twenty-year-old mystery that I was supposed to solve.

Amber: Did you have any friends or family who you could go to for help? Or did you have to figure out what to do by yourself?

Libby:  The only person I felt comfortable telling about the purse was my best friend, Toni. The only problem was, Toni was a total non-believer in anything paranormal. It took me a while to convince her I had a supernatural purse. In fact, I really can’t take the credit for convincing her. The purse did that, in a very powerful way. Once she accepted the truth, she was just as determined as I was to get to the bottom of things. 

Amber: Were you ever in contact with a ghost before? Do you think the purse was waiting there just for you?

Libby:  This was my very first paranormal experience. And, yes—I do think the purse was waiting just for me. It wanted my help, and I was perfectly willing to give it. I just didn’t realize how dangerous digging up the past would be. I mean, I almost got killed—in a really horrible way! But as dreadful as the experience was, a whole lot of good came out of it, too. In the end, the purse changed my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. By the way, if you ever want to read my story, check out The Haunted Purse by Kimberly Baer. Kim was so intrigued by what I went through that she actually wrote a book about it! 

Amber: Oh no! So glad you're here safe to tell the story. I want to read that book. Are you a mystery fan now? Or have you sworn off?

Libby:  I’m happy to guess the mystery meat in the cafeteria. I’m fine with trying to figure out who just sent me an anonymous text message. As for dark, dangerous mysteries that could get a person killed—I think I’ll pass, thank you!

Amber: How's your life now with college? I'm liking my classes. I was interested in being a Librarian, but I'm liking my business classes too. What are your favorite classes? 

Libby:  A librarian? Wow. Wouldn’t it be awesome to work in a place where you were surrounded by books? I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, ha ha, so I’m taking lots of intro classes for my first semester. My favorite is Intro to Sociology, though I’m taking it mainly because it’s a pre-req for this course called Paranormal Studies, which I want to take next semester. ParaStud (that’s what the cool kids call it) is all about examining supernatural folklore from different cultures. There’s even a field trip to a supposedly haunted house. Some people sign up thinking it’s a basket-weaving-type course, but I’ve heard that the professor really makes you work. You do a lot of critical thinking, and you debate the existence of ghosts, Big Foot, telekinesis—all that stuff. How can I not take that course, considering my own brush with the paranormal? 

Amber: Awesome. When you're scared, how do you give yourself the courage you need?

Libby:  If you’d asked me that a few years ago, I’d have said I’m a strong person, so I have no trouble finding courage within myself. I got self-sufficient at a pretty young age. See, I didn’t have the best childhood. I was born to an unwed teen mom who didn’t give a crap about me. She always… she just… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get choked up like this. I guess the hurt never really goes away. Ugh. It’s okay—I’m fine. Anyway, my mother eventually moved in with her boyfriend, so I was living totally on my own in an inner city apartment. I developed courage because I had to. I felt like I had nobody to count on but myself. Turns out that’s not a good way to live. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my haunted purse experience is that you can’t do everything on your own. You need other people—everybody does. So now when I’m feeling really scared or worried, I don’t just rely on myself. I reach out to my friends. I’m always amazed by how much better they make me feel.

Amber: From all you've said, I want to read all about your story. Can't wait to read The Haunted Purse by Kimberly Baer. What do you think is the most important thing to remember when tracking clues to a mystery?

Libby:  Don’t give up. Just keep at it. I got to the point where I didn’t think I’d ever solve the mystery of the haunted purse, and then boom! Just like that, everything fell into place.

Katherine: Libby thanks so much for joining us to celebrate National Handbag Day. You've certainly added intrigue to our holiday with your book The Haunted Purse by Kimberly Baer. And to all our readers, what are you carrying for Handbag day? I hope it's got room for a good paperback or kindle/nook book.

Libby:  Is it all right if I look around the museum for a while?

Amber:  I'll show you around. It looks like Katherine is already absorbed in your book.

Blurb for The Haunted Purse:

That old denim purse Libby Dawson bought at the thrift store isn’t your run-of-the-mill teenage tote. It’s a bag of secrets, imbued with supernatural powers. Strange items keep turning up inside, clues to a decades-old mystery only Libby can solve.

Filled with apprehension and yet intrigued by the mounting pile of evidence, Libby digs for the truth. And eventually finds it. But the story of the purse is darker than she imagined—and its next horrific chapter is going to be all about her.

Excerpt from The Haunted Purse:

“Do you think we should tell my mom about the purse?” asked Toni.

“No,” I said. I wasn’t ready to trust an adult. Not even Toni’s mom, nice as she was. “Your mom is like you,” I added. “Practical. It would take a long time to convince her there’s something supernatural going on.”

We went back to watching the purse. There was a moment when I thought I saw it twitch, but that might have been my imagination.

“You could always get rid of it,” Toni said. “You know, donate it back to the thrift store.”

I considered that. “I could. But I don’t want to—not yet, anyway. This purse is the coolest thing I’ve ever owned. I want to find out more about it. I want to see what it does next.”

She moved her eyes from the purse long enough to glance at me. “Aren’t you afraid it’ll crawl into your bed some night and strangle you with its straps?”

“No. I think it’s trying to get my attention. It’s trying to tell me something.”

“Like what?”

I didn’t have a clue.

Author Bio:

Kimberly Baer is an author and professional editor who was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a town marginally famous for having endured three major floods. She even lived there during one of them. She currently resides in Virginia, where she enjoys power-walking on days when it’s not too hot, too cold, too rainy, too snowy, or too windy. If forced to stay inside, she’s likely to end up binge-watching one of her favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, Breaking Bad, Friends, or The Office.

Kim’s first story, written at age six, was about a baby chick that hatched out of a little girl’s Easter egg after somehow surviving the hard-boiling process. Her recent focus has been on writing middle-grade and young adult fiction.  

Friday, September 4, 2020

Purse-Stachio Makes A Splash with Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

Katherine: Welcome Christine Ginardo as you celebrate the launch of our Prequel,

Purse-Stachio Makes A Splash!

Christine: Thanks! Our story is such an exciting end of summer read! And to add a little something to a reader's pleasure I've decided to share my delicioso recipe for Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti. A great treat to munch on while enjoying this fun great read that includes a chilling cold case.

Katherine: Now that is cool. Love your biscotti! Don't suppose you have any with you, already made? I can munch on one now and carry one in the slip pocket of my shoulder bag for later.

Christine: Of course Katherine, but I'm telling you the fun is also in the making, just like a mystery . . .


2+1/4 cups all-purpose flour (270g)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter (42g)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar (150g)
2 tbsp olive oil (30ml)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1+1/2 cups pistachio, chopped (150g)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted (175g)
  1. In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, and salt to combine. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl,mix butter, sugar, and oil on medium speed just until combined about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and stir to combine. Stir in dry ingredients just until combined. The cookie dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Fold in pistachios. 

  3. Divide cookie dough in half and form 2 equal sized logs about 1-inch height Place on the greased baking sheet 4-inches apart. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Then cut into 1-inch slices and set them on the cut sides upright about 1/4 inch apart. Bake for 8 minutes. Then turn them over and bake on the other side for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. 

  4. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir every 30 seconds. Dip each biscotti into chocolate and place on baking sheets or a wire rack. Sprinkle with additional pistachio. Let dry. Enjoy with a good book!

Christine: Now your only question is - One biscotti or two?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Travel Sparks Inspiration In Story Telling

MJ: Today's guest is a best selling author of romance, and she mixes in mystery, and her new novel has an historical setting that I particularly enjoy. Based on a true story, Wild Rose Pass is a romantic journey into yesteryear. 

Katherine: Yes, what a storyteller. Karen Hulene Bartell, welcome!

Karen: Thank you for inviting me to your blog! It’s a pleasure to chat with you and Purrada!

Katherine: My dear pet Purrada has gone from stray cat to pampered cat. She has such a purrsonality, and I do enjoy her. I understand as an author that you have your own mews for muse - three rescued cats and a rescued "Cat"ahoula Leopard dog. Can you tell us a little about your critters, and have any appeared in your books?

Karen: I jokingly call our three rescued cats and rescued *CAT*ahoula Leopard dog my “mews.” The cats either lounge on my desk or my lap while I write, and the dog sleeps beside my chair on his bed, so I’m surrounded by my “muse.” I wouldn’t say they inspire me, but they’re very empathetic and are the models for critters in my book.
For instance, Marmalade, our orange tabby stretched out on the desk, purrs as I write. He was the stimulus for Earnestine, the six-toed descendant of the Hemingway cat in The Keys: Voice of the Turtle, that “communicated” with the heroine.

Our *CAT*ahoula Leopard dog, Tory—short for Toreador because of his brindle coloring—looks like he’s wearing Toreador pants and a matching vest. He modeled for the puppy in Wild Rose Pass.

MJ: In your newest release, Wild Rose Pass, oh what a rocky romance when two people of such different backgrounds are drawn to each other. This exciting book is set in the wild west of 1880's Texas. The setting is so vivid. How did you research this time period, and bring it to life?

Karen: Sixteen years ago, my husband and I spent Christmas week hiking and horseback riding in Big Bend National Park. You’ve seen the area on maps—the southernmost tip of Texas that borders the Rio Grande and dips into Mexico. Spanning more than 800,000 acres of Chihuahuan desert, mountains, and rivers, Big Bend is larger than the state of Rhode Island—and wild with lions and bobcats and bears. Oh, my!
Driving home early that New Year’s morning, we missed the turnoff in Alpine and followed TX-118 north. Snow-covered and glinting against the frosty blue January sky, a remote jumble of mountain peaks and ranges beckoned as they rose above the desert floor. I was enchanted. Gazing at the sky island for the first time, wide-eyed, I wondered whether those rocky pinnacles were mirages or optical delusions.
But as the craggy peaks loomed larger (a mile high, I later learned), I realized they were no hallucination or Fata Morgana. A hasty glance at the map told us these were the Davis Mountains. As we approached, vertical basalt columns rose like thousands of giant fingers reaching for the sky. The palisades, buttes, and bluffs towered above both sides of Wild Rose Pass with a raw, majestic beauty, and I breathed a contented sigh, sensing a homecoming.
That missed turn took us only a half hour out of our way, but as we drove through Fort Davis and the Davis Mountains, it changed my life. From that day to this, it’s held my heart and imagination, and I’ve learned everything I can of its colorful history. Named after Jefferson Davis, Fort Davis has seen Buffalo soldiers, Indian Wars, Quanah Parker, cattle drives, Pancho Villa, and cinnabar mining.
When I learned a friend’s great-great-grandfather had not only worked for Fort Davis’ cavalry as an Indian scout in the 1870s and 1880s but had been captured as a child and raised by Comanches, an idea took root. The outcome of that budding thought bloomed into my latest historical novel: Wild Rose Pass, Book I of the Trans-Pecos Series.

Katherine: As a best-selling author, you write multicultural, offbeat love stories steeped in the supernatural that lift the spirit. Your wonderful book The Keys: Voice of the Turtle has a fabulous blend of romance mixed into a murder mystery and includes two intriguing apparitions. Can you tell us a little about crafting this mystery plot?

Karen: The Keys: Voice of the Turtle is about something familiar to us all—moving forward, getting over disappointments, even moving on. I started with a premise and the characters’ missions. From that perspective, I expanded the scope, dramatizing the story with ghosts passing over, widows remarrying, and PTSD victims starting over.
A probate battle over Keya’s turtle-nesting beach is the premise. Land-hungry relatives want it bulldozed and developed, but she wants it preserved as a turtle sanctuary. From there, a murder mystery evolves with a calculating killer and a vengeful ghost. A second apparition brings a 400-year-old mystery, along with buried treasure also connected to the land.
For me, travel sparks inspiration—and a visit to Key West and the keys triggered this novel. Whenever I visit provocative places, encounter new experiences, sample different ethnic foods, and chance upon stimulating people, I’m inspired. Ideas flow. (I should’ve been a travel correspondent.) There’s something about traveling that takes me out of my rut and propels me into new realms of possibility.
I’ve written some of my best concepts sitting in airports or hotel bathrooms at midnight (so I don’t wake my husband with the light). Being out of my element and in new environments stimulates my imagination. Traveling inspires me.
Each of my novels takes place in a different setting because as I visit those destinations, I’m infused with innovative ideas. I envision scene after scene, like vignettes flowing into the next and the next.
So what inspires me to write The Keys: Voice of the Turtle? Traveling to the unique keys with its distinctive ambiance. The atmosphere set the tone. Then the characters emerged, and finally the story unfolded.

Katherine: How important setting is in wonderful stories. Our mystery is set in Bayside, Washington. That's a completely fictional town near Seattle. The story and so many of the mystery's clues are greatly influenced by the sights in that part of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle's surprising history, and even the mystique of the area's weather including the secret that it doesn't always rain there. Bayside is such a contrast from Beverly Hills where my Katherine Watson's Designs company began and grew.  

MJ: Karen, you lived an interesting childhood, and wrote your first book at nine years old. How did your childhood influence your interest in writing, or the books that you write?

Karen: I’ve always had a creative imagination. (My childhood dolls were never baby dolls—always lady dolls, who went on exciting adventures.) But how did my childhood influence my interest in writing? In a word, reading. In second grade, my mother took me to the library and helped me choose books. By third grade, I had my own library card, walked to the library alone, and chose my own books. All during my childhood, my mother let me stay up as late as I wanted—if I read. As a result, I became a voracious reader, and in my case, writing was simply a natural progression from reading.
Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, I found my earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became my portable pals. Ghost stories kept me up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was my passion.
Wanderlust inherent, I enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, I began writing my first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating my HEAs.
However, I think everything we’ve ever read, seen, heard, and thought mingles and merges in our brains as we sleep or meditate. When inspired ideas crop up, I believe our minds recollect (re-collect) that information and reassemble it into the prose we write.

Katherine: Do you have any sentimental, or otherwise favorite handbag or other kind of bag? We'd love to hear about it.

Karen: Sorry, but I really don’t. I use the same black purse until it wears out, and then I replace it with another almost exactly like it. I was once given a citrus-green, alligator computer bag. I liked it, despite the fact I was a vegetarian at the time, and nothing I owned matched it, but it was, without a doubt, the most haute couture bag I’ve ever owned.

Katherine: As an author, I can see how having a great bag for your laptop is a must. Your favorite bag reflects your passion. We're encouraging everyone to find out more about you, Karen and your wonderful books on your website And who knows what your next trip will inspire!

That's meow for now, Purrada