Karen Hulene Bartell

Author of The Series:

Sacred Emblems

Sail through time as you discover buried treasure and the ghosts that haunt the seas!


The Keys: Voice of the Turtle

Release date: August 14, 2019 – Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Editor: Dianne Rich – Cover Artist: Kim Mendoza


Finding buried treasure and love, Keya moves forward, but can she save the beach? Can Ruth find Maita’s murderer or help Bart solve his 400-year-old mystery? Join their adventures as they mingle with ghosts and talk with turtles.


Good morning Karen and welcome to the Spotlight! Let’s start off by asking how do you select the names of your characters?

I do a LOT of research because names are important. For instance, the protagonist of The Keys: Voice of the Turtle is named Keya. In the Lakota Sioux language, Keya means Turtle. The setting of the novel is the Florida Keys, and the premise is protecting sea turtles and their nesting beaches. Finding the name Keya for the main character—who is Native American and a turtle aficionado—was kismet.


I love that when there’s meaning behind the names. Do your characters ever seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

Excellent question. We have a symbiotic relationship. Although, I like to believe I write the action and ending, sometimes, the characters speak to me in my dreams—or simply take over.


Excellent answer too! And could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

The Keys: Voice of the Turtle is about what we all deal with—moving forward, getting over disappointments, even moving on—like ghosts passing over, widows remarrying, or PTSD victims starting over.


And how did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Publication was a turning point, and I finally began to take my writing seriously.

Okay, here’s a fun one! As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I’d have to say a cat because I call our rescued kitties (and dog) my “mews.”

Aww, I love it! Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Definitely, but the names have been changed to protect the guilty 😉

I completely agree! What is your favorite part of the book?

My favorite part of romances is the frisson between the protagonists. It’s falling in love vicariously.

Me too! And what has been the best compliment?

A reader once told me (in a wistful voice) that she wished she were more like a character I’d written. No other compliment has touched me as deeply.

It truly is inspiring! What’s the most reckless thing you’ve ever done?

While I was on a tour of the Eiffel Tower, our guide said we would visit the first floor only, but I wanted to go to the top. Long story short, I left the tour and bought a ticket to the top, but it started to rain, and the gendarmes forced me to leave. I had travelers’ checks, but no passport – and only one subway ticket. Speaking deplorable first-year-student French, I somehow found my way from downtown Paris to an obscure suburban hotel several hours later. THE dumbest stunt I’ve ever pulled.


Okay, my favorite million-dollar question, are you working on another book?

Absolutely! I’m in final edits for Wild Rose Press, a completely new genre for me—Historical Western Romance, plus I’ve begun writing Kyoto: Tale of the Fox, a Mainstream Fantasy. I love stretching my skills to the extreme! (It’s called growth.)

Well, that’s exciting! I wish you well on both of those as well! Where can we find you online?







Speed Dating…

(answer in one or two words)

City or country?



What color best describes your personality?



What are you most passionate about?



What do you consider your best attribute?

Open to new experiences


What’s your favorite beverage?



What song best sums you up?

Hot Child In The City (50 years ago)


What does your desk look like right now? Clean or messy?

For a change—CLEAN!


Are you a night owl or an early bird?

Early bird


What book are you reading at the moment?

The Fox and the Jewel


What would you take with you to a desert island? (three items)

Husband, critters, computer


If you could invite anyone, dead or alive, to dinner, who would it be?

A grandfather, who I never met


What would be your ideal holiday destination?



What time in history would you have liked to be born in?

With antibiotics—NOW!


If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

She hasn’t been born yet


DIY or call an expert?



What is your favorite fruit?



What is your favorite thing to learn about in your free time?



What is your favorite time of day?

Early morning


Are you a pantser or a plotter?



Music or silence



The Keys: Voice of the Turtle Excerpt:

“These nesting grounds are the reason I’ve fought to keep this property intact. If this beach is developed, the impact will destroy it, but fighting the lawsuit is expensive. I’d hate to sell this place to pay court costs.”

“But you said keeping the nesting grounds intact is only part of the reason you stay.” Ruth gave her a sympathetic smile. “What’s the rest?”

“Call it my legacy.” Keya stood up straight. “When I’m gone, I’d like this beach to remain as nature intended it…for the turtles. Since I’ve never had children—”

Earnestine meowed.

Keya grinned. “That is, except for my furry, four-legged kids, I’ve never had children. I have no one to leave it to other than who or what will make the best use of it. Conveying this land to the turtles would be my way of leaving the world a better place.” She turned toward Ruth. “Does that make sense?”

Ruth nodded. Her cousin’s intentions were clear. “But legally, how can you will the property to the turtles?”

“Easy. I leave it to the Turtle Refuge.” Keya chuckled as they meandered along the shore. “And this is where you come in. When you’re writing the brochure, add a few paragraphs about planned giving and charitable bequests…” Keya stared as if in a trance.

“What’s wrong?”

Her hand shaking, Keya pointed to a shady patch of beach half hidden by sand dunes. A lifeless hand lay tangled in seaweed, its fingernails broken and bloodied.


Personal Hashtags or Keywords

#Ghosts, #Paranormal, Mainstream Fantasy, Paranormal & Urban Fantasy, Romance, Pirates, Swashbuckler, Sunken Treasure, Buried Treasure, Keys, Florida Keys, Key West, Turtles, Native Americans

Where to Purchase:

Links for purchase: The Keys: Voice of the Turtle: https://amzn.to/2XV2wO1

Links for contacting you: Website—http://www.KarenHuleneBartell.com/ 

Author Bio:

Best-selling author, Dr. Karen Hulene Bartell, is a motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat stories steeped in the supernatural that lift the spirit. Karen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband Peter and her ‘mews’—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

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