Posted tagged ‘book reviews’


December 8, 2011

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Hazel Hart

Remember the Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz movie, The Long, Long Trailer, in which Lucy convinces Desi to buy a house trailer to honeymoon and travel in and all the mishaps that befall them on the road? That is exactly the pattern of events that happened to Bonnie Myrick Eaton and me as we embarked on our Keyhole Conversations journey.

When Bonnie, my friend, co-author, and now co-video creator, suggested a video blog (otherwise known as a vlog) in which we would interview characters about their thoughts on their authors, I visualized something fun, easy, and quick. All we would need was five minutes in front of my webcam. Then we’d upload to YouTube and Facebook, and we’d be done and back to writing our novels until the next interview.

We enthusiastically began promoting our idea to fellow writers, and Arlene Rains Graber agreed to be our first guinea pig. She was the one who dubbed us as “Tech Hotties.” Then we set about making our first video. Bonnie, ever the artist with a couple of really great book trailers to her credit, began working on a Keyhole Conversations logo and ferreting out music to add to the video. Then we interviewed each other, and my innocence was quickly shattered when the webcam images blurred. We weren’t “Tech Hotties” after all; we were “Tech Notties.”

Since we couldn’t figure out the problem, I purchased a Kodak Play Sport video camera. The camera took great video, but the included free software for making movies was confusing, at least confusing for a “Tech Nottie” like me. After an afternoon of trials with the movie software, we tried to e-mail our first movie clip to Bonnie’s computer. Even though the instructions for e-mailing proclaimed the process easy, my e-mail did not take kindly to MP4 files. They wouldn’t send. We tried DVDs and flash drives, but Bonnie’s computer didn’t respond well to those.

After several afternoons of technical trial and error, we were finally ready for our first video, an interview with Arlene Rains Graber’s A Plane Tree in Provence character, Penny Wilson. Arlene was fantastic as her character. We shot the video straight through three times. Each time, something happened. An overhead plane drowned out the sound, a word was mispronounced, a line was forgotten, but I reasoned it would be easy enough to cut and splice. Wrong! Remember how Lucy tried to cook in a moving trailer and things kept crashing around her. That was the feeling I had as I settled in front of my computer. I was emotionally at the edge of a cliff when I finally finished cutting, splicing and rearranging.

We finished that first video and learned a lot. We learned to shoot short clips of one question and one answer, which made it easier to edit out mistakes. We learned saving and uploading takes a long time. We still worry when “high CPU usage” appears on my laptop computer’s screen.

We have persevered, and our first interviews are up. While we have not yet reached “Tech Hottie” status, our characters’ authors are brilliant. Here are the links:

Arlen Rains Graber’s A Plane Tree in Provence

Conrad Jestmore’s River of Murder

B.D. Tharp’s Feisty Family Values

Bonnie Myrick’s Out of Control

Hazel Hart’s The Night Before Christmas

For more information on our authors beyond the interviews, visit our Keyhole Conversations vlog. And while you’re there, be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss our book reviews. Remember, we always welcome your comments and suggestions.

This Week’s Novel Selection: A Plane Tree in Provence by Arlene Graber

October 20, 2011

Last week, Hazel Hart, my Keyhole Conversations partner, uploaded our first video interview review to YouTube of the book, “A Plane Tree in Provence,” where Arlene Graber portrays her character, Penny Wilson, who ‘tells all’ on the author who brought her to life. Check it out!

Read a sample of her writing here.


A Plane Tree in Provence won the  Kansas Authors Club 2011 first place award  in the statewide contest. We hope you enjoy a teaser of what her book is about, so read on.

Women’s Fiction:

Take five bored women anxious to escape their humdrum lives, add a journey to France, a mix  of French wines, a sprinkle  of conflict, and an amorous affair, and you have a recipe for trouble. If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting one of those far-away places, here is armchair travel that will take you to A Plane Tree in Provence. The author’s descriptions of the French countryside, the wines, and the French people will put you there as you experience the adventures and conflicts of the five women—each with her own personal issues of adultery, bereavement, and seduction. Readers will find a blend of heart-warming adventures in this satisfying novel about friendships set amid the charm of the French countryside.

Review by B. J. Myrick

About the Author:

Arlene Graber is an award winning freelance writer from Wichita, Kansas. Her writing career spans more than twenty-five years with over 100 devotionals,  essays, and articles published in numerous newspapers, magazines and periodicals. Devoted to Traveling was released February 16, 2010, by AWOC Publishers. She is a retired travel agent who has traveled throughout the world. She  is a graduate of the University of Memphis, is an avid scrapbooker, a graduate of Bible Study Fellowship, the proud grandmother of two boys, and has attended Eastminster Presbyterian Church for over thirty years. She is currently writing a sequel to A Plane Tree in Provence.

Janice Parr, photographer