Karen Hulene Bartell

Karen Hulene Bartell

Book: Wild Rose Pass

Author of the Series: Trans-Pecos Series

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen Hulene Bartell 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. 

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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.

Hello! Karen I’m so glad you’ve joined us on the Spotlight!

I wanted to start off by asking if there is a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, and here’s the scene from Wild Rose Pass that expresses it…
“Who knows the real reasons we do things?” His mind honed the idea as they waltzed across the makeshift dancefloor. “We think we’re the ones skipping stones across the water, but after we see the ripples of our actions, we realize we were just the stones…not the skippers.”
“I don’t follow.” Squinting, she watched him. “Give me an example.”
“For instance”—he recalled their first outings—“we thought we were helping the Rodriguez family when we brought them supplies. But if we hadn’t lent them a hand, we might never have gotten to know each other.”
“So actually, we helped ourselves.” She nodded. “And if James hadn’t been so insufferable that day in the trading post, I might not have ridden off in a huff, and you and I might never have gotten together.”
“Exactly. We may think we’re doing things for our own reasons, but I bet we’re all just part of a larger divine plan. We’re not the skippers. We’re the stones being skipped.” As the music ended, he drew a deep breath. “We don’t know the parts we play in people’s lives until after we see the ripples of our actions.”
“So what does your theory have to do with James?” She slowly let go his shoulder as they waited for the next dance.
“His ‘ripples’ affected us just as much as ours affected him. If we’re all just stones making waves that move each other”—he lifted his brow—“maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to judge.”

I like it! How do you choose the names and physical characteristics of your characters? Do you base them on real people?

I try to devise creative character names based on their temperament or the book’s location or season. For instance, if the character is a volatile redhead, I’d name her Cayenne. It SOUNDS like a woman’s name that’s hot. For Belize Navidad, a novel I wrote with a Caribbean setting at Christmas time, I named the heroine Carol, as in Christmas Carol, and named the hero Nick, as in good old Saint ____. < Fill in the blank. > In Sacred Gift, the protagonist was angelic. I named her Angela, and I named the antagonist Develyn, short for Debra Evelyn but suggesting the girl was devilish. You get the idea.

But if you still don’t think characters’ names are important to stories, consider the following scenario:
Four clergymen and their wives were flying back from an interdenominational conference when the plane crashed, and they all arrived at the Pearly Gates simultaneously.
Saint Peter took the first preacher aside. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in. You had a food addiction and a sweet tooth. In fact, you loved chocolate so much you married a woman named Candy.” Off they went to hell.
Saint Peter then addressed the second parson. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in. You loved the almighty dollar more than the Lord. In fact, you loved money so much you married a woman named Penny.” Off they went to hell.
Saint Peter spoke to the third minister. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in. You loved demon rum more than the Lord. In fact, you loved alcohol so much you married a woman named Brandy.” Off they went to hell.
The fourth preacher turned to his wife. “We don't have a prayer, Fanny.”

LOL! That’s funny! If writing is your first passion, what is your second?

Traveling – I’d spend half my life seeing new places and experiencing new things if I could.

Me too! Do you have a certain thing you do to envision your characters?

I like to “play dolls.” What I mean by that is I love to brainstorm with friends—like we did as children when we played with dolls. “First the dolls go here, and then they do that.” Through brainstorming, I come up with the plot and the action. From that, follow the characters’ motives, characterizations, and dialogue.

Oh, that’s interesting. That’s a great way to do it. Do you have any new projects on the horizon?

Yes, I’m currently working on a sequel to Wild Rose Pass called Paisano Pass. Though set primarily in the present, the storyline includes historical journals and flashbacks that allow the historic and current timelines to parallel and the family mysteries to unravel and finally be resolved.

Do you need supreme quiet when you write or do you prefer music and/or background noise?

I need absolute quiet, either in my office or by using earplugs if I’m in a public environment.

Again, me too! Okay, last question: What would you most like to say to your readers?

Come on an unforgettable journey, where luminous crimson sunsets morph into romantic, starlit evenings of the Old West ~ WILD ROSE PASS.

About the Book

Wild Rose Pass

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Release Date: April 8, 2020

Author of the Series:: Trans-Pecos Series

Book Cover Artist: TWRP

Cadence’s fingertips grazed Ben’s thigh, and she caught her breath.

He bristled as his gaze locked with hers. Then he inched closer, leaning into her space.

As if magnetized, she inclined her body toward his. How will his lips feel on mine? Eager to learn, she closed her eyes, parted her lips, and waited…

Moments passed.

“We’d better head back.”

His words sounded gruff and strangled. Opening her eyes wide, she stared horror-struck. Did I just make a fool of myself? Huffing, she jerked the reins. “Fine,” she called over her shoulder as she wheeled around her horse…

Where can we purchase, A Season for Killing Blondes


Let’s finish with everyone’s favorite… Speed Dating!

Favorite movie: Gone with the wind

Best place you’ve visited:  Barcelona

Place you’d like to visit: Ireland

Favorite food: Potatoes

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

What song best sums you up? Wagon Wheels

Oxford comma, yes or no? Yes

Pen or pencil? Pen

Favorite music? Classic Oldies

Coffee or tea? Tea

What does your desk look like? Cat Hair

What is your writing vice or must-haves?  Quiet

Plotter or pantser? Pantser

Mac or PC? PC

Favorite dessert? Softserve

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

You have a time travel machine. Where and when? Texas - 1885

Are you earth, wind, fire or water? Wind

"I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy creating them. A very wise woman said to me that everyone was a writer, some just don’t know their own story. I hope you find yours and write it down."

Jeny Heckman


  1. Jeny, thank you so much for interviewing me on your blog!

  2. Barbara Bettiis says:

    Hi Karen, I really like the message you have in that excerpt above! And the way you describe your setting makes me want to jump in my car and drive West 🙂 Looking forward to Paisano Pass!

  3. D. V. says:

    Great interview, ladies! I so enjoyed Karen’s book. D. V. 🦉

  4. Clever! I try to use baby name books or websites. Good luck with the book!

  5. That’s an interesting way of creating names. I hadn’t thought to be quite so literal! But I love the name you chose for your heroine – Cadence. Great name!

  6. Jan Sikes says:

    A wonderful interview with Karen! What a sense of humor. I’d be willing to bet that humor shows up in her stories as well. Thank you for hosting her, Jenny! It’s great to meet you both!

  7. Ilona Fridl says:

    Great post! I know with me, my characters seem to introduce themselves to me.

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