Posted tagged ‘writing’

November 24, 2015


angel of mercy book cover final gak

Back in 2003, I had just finished my new mystery when the blue screen of death flashed across the monitor; that was the day my computer crashed. My daughter, a computer technician, said to send it to her in Salt Lake, Utah, saying she would recover my files from the hard drive and put them on  a new computer. The only problem was the postman delivered the computer to the wrong house. My manuscript was lost forever.

I moped around for three months before a light bulb came on . . . if my critique partners were as dilatory as I about deleting my sent files, maybe they didn’t either. Between the four critique members, I recovered all the chapters but two. My novel was resurrected from the dead. It was tedious to retype and revise the novel, but I was determined to save my story.

Today, I’m sharing my favorite scene with you, my readers.


Emma put the tray on the coffee table, handed Suzy a plate filled with chips, the slap sandwich, and wedges of fresh green pepper. “Can you reach your coffee if I set it on the table?” Emma asked as she put the cup down.

Suzy nodded, crunching the food with obvious delight.

Emma settled on the couch and bit into the sandwich.

Suzy fixed her eyes on the ceiling with a faraway look. “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kill someone? To actually murder and feel the burst of emotion first hand, to capture the sensation in your writing?” She stopped and giggled. “Of course, it would need to be someone weak and unable to fight back. I’m at a disadvantage in this wheelchair. Still, other ways are just as effective, like rat poison, for instance. It would be easy to slip something like that into a drink. Get what I mean?” She arched her brows, leaning a bit toward Emma, watching her with narrowed eyes.

Emma froze. Her sandwich stuck in her throat. She took a quick gulp of coffee and choked. Her mind exploded with questions. Was Suzy involved? Was that why she came to visit? She had motive, however bizarre, by acting out murders to use as research in her writing. But taking realism to a new level by murdering someone for the sake of a novel was unthinkable. Yet . . . .

Suzy’s voice cut through her thoughts. “Are you all right, Emma? You look a little pale. Did I upset you?” She crammed a mouthful of food in her mouth and chewed vigorously.

“It’s okay. My sandwich got stuck.” Emma fingered her throat. “I’m fine now, though.”

“Ohhhhhhhhh . . . well, that’s good,” Suzy said, rolling her eyes and nodding. “Sometimes I get so carried away.” She took a small brown notebook from her jacket and opened the pad, reading from a list. “Here’s a good one,” she said, placing a finger on the page. “Smothering an old person is easy and never leaves bruises if you use a pillow. Oh, and this one is great. You can hide medicine from an asthmatic or someone with a heart condition. Look.” She turned the book so Emma could see and flipped through the pages. “These notes are full of fool-proof ways to murder without getting caught.” She paused. “I’ve been researching this crap forever.” She finished the last of her sandwich, gulped the rest of her coffee down, and leaned back with a satisfied smile.

Emma swallowed hard. “Sounds like you’re thinking of killing someone. Am I having lunch with a killer?”

Suzy’s laughter peeled through the room. “Tell me you haven’t thought about the realism that murdering someone would add to your work. Admit it!” She leaned forward, reflections glancing off her glasses as her eyes appeared to measure Emma’s reaction.

Emma’s heart beat double time, and she edged forward on her seat. Suzy’s bizarre visit took on new meaning. For the first time she wondered how Suzy had known which apartment was hers unless she’d been shadowing her. Now, Emma was trapped with a crazy, giggling writer who wanted to talk about different ways to commit murder. Was the woman insane?


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Read more about B. J. Myrick and her books at

Read more on her book page.




Legacies From The Past

September 27, 2013


Have you ever wondered where a writer gets the idea for a particular book and what is involved in the creation of the story that looks so enticing in the book’s description? The idea for my novel was inspired by Mother’s stories about homesteading in No Man’s Land and my great-grandmother’s recipes for herbal cures—she was a medicine woman.

Within the tattered pages of the old Dr. Chase book, published in the 1800’s, were my great-grandmother’s recipes for herbal cures written on blank pages at the end of chapters. They contained weird ingredients such as sugar of lead, chloroform, sarsaparilla, sulphuric ether and acid, iodide of potash, stillingia, poke root, and morphine, to name just a few. Her cures covered diphtheria, blood purifier and liver regulator, piles, worms, and a host of other ailments. With her concoctions, she healed ill and dying patients who had been given up to die by the doctors. Unfortunately, she never passed down the tradition of healing with herbs.

As I considered how I could use the herbal healing in a novel, I remembered all those family stories my mother told me about homesteading in No Man’s Land. As a child, I used to beg her to retell the stories, and she would laugh and say, “Oh, you don’t want to hear that again.” But she always recounted those fascinating tales of digging the dugout, confronting outlaws, digging the well, fighting prairie fires set by the cattlemen to drive out settlers who were a  threat to open range. I never tired of hearing about those frightening experiences of what it was like to homestead in that wild and untamed territory.

The story, Nelly of No Man’s Land takes place in Oklahoma over a two-year period. A pioneer family homesteads in The Strip where they struggle to survive in a lawless territory. Nelly Duncan is a dying woman who battles to regain her health while struggling to resolve the personal pain of her husband’s alcohol addiction and infidelity. Through the help of a medicine man, she regains her health there. Then the past returns to haunt her: the handsome peddler she turned to for comfort during her husband’s unfaithfulness and who fathered a child her husband thinks is his own, reappears in her life.

Take a step back in time and travel with me through the pages of Nelly of No Man’s Land as I share the journey with you. The historical novel is available at in both eBook and paperback.


Read more about B. J. Myrick and her books at

Thanks to vintagefeedsacks for their images.


September 6, 2013

hazel's blog photo


Throughout The Survivalist’s Daughter, Kindra has flashbacks to the FBI raid and the killing of her stepmother. The worst of these flashbacks happens during a school lockdown drill when the tinny intercom voice and the loud banging of chair legs on the floor combine to bring the devastating event back to her.

Kindra is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental illness most often associated with soldiers. However, the illness can happen to any person of any age who undergoes a harrowing experience. Read more on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of PTSD on the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in civilians


hazel cropped copyHazel Hart, a member of Kansas Writers Association and Kansas Authors Club, has won awards for her short fiction, including “Amanda Marie,” published in Kansas Voices, and “Confessions,” published in Words out of the Flatlands.

She has three published suspense novels, The Night before Christmas, Family History, and Possessing Sara and has co-authored two books of short stories, Dark Side of the Rainbow and The Edge of Nowhere, with Bonnie Eaton aka B.J. Myrick, which are also listed on  Visit her amazon author page and preview The Survivalist’s Daughter.

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Thanks to vintagefeedsacks for the use of their images


June 21, 2012

Earlier, Keyhole Conversations featured a series on Authors and their art. Then we noticed writers with other creative outlets and discovered a link between writers whose passions extended to creative cooking, so we decided to do a series on writers who cook.

H. B. Berlow, a prolific fiction writer,  dreams up his own recipes. His energy is contagious and his talents are many. He creates his own book trailers, book covers, and  he loves to blog about his two favorite passions, writing and cooking.

His kitchen is a shrine for his passion, right down to the special sink he uses. He credits the extremely artistic and talented contractor,  Mark Anderson, of  Persona Kitchen and Bath Solutions in Wichita, Kansas, for his dream-come-true kitchen.

This is one cooking vlog you don’t want to miss.



4 chicken breasts, pounded to approx. 1/2 inch
flour/salt/pepper for dredging
3 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup white cooking wine
4 Tbs. lemon juice
4 Tbs. capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

(1) Dredge chicken breasts in flour with salt and pepper. Place into a skillet where butter and olive oil have started to slowly melt on low heat.
(2) Turn heat to medium. Cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.  Do not overcook or turn heat up beyond medium.
(3) Lower heat. Remove chicken to warming platter. Add the piccata sauce (wine/lemon juice/capers) and turn heat back up to medium.
(4) Deglaze the pan (i.e. scrape up brown bits left over) and then turn up heat and reduce (i.e. bring to a light boil until some of the liquid has evaporated).
(5) Return chicken to pan. Reduce heat. Turn the chicken over to coat. Put chicken on plate. Cover with sauce. Sprinkle on chopped parsley.

Thanks to vintagefeedsacks for the use of their images.


March 7, 2012

B.D. Tharp reads from Patchwork Family, the sequel to her award-winning novel, Feisty Family Values. Watch the video below and learn why this intimate scene was difficult to write and  what happened to cause this novel about life, love, and family bonds to be searching for a publishing home.



It’s been a year since Annabelle’s daughter died and she gained custody of her three grandchildren. The stress of the demands and changes to her life begin to affect her health. To make matters worse, Annabelle receives a call from the children’s dad, who disappeared a decade ago. As a result of the stressful conversation, Annabelle has a heart attack, which leaves her cousin Regina as areluctant caregiver to both Annabelle and the children.

The children’s father, who has been in jail, wants another chance with his children. Annabelle, Regina, and the kids struggle to let go of the past and take a chance on the future, no matter how uncertain it may be.

Regina considers the risks of a second marriage, while Annabelle, who has been dependent on her cousin for the roof over their heads, looks for a way to be financially independent at age sixty-seven.

Patchwork Family shows that the heart of a family is not always about genetics. It’s about family members and friends being there for each other, appreciating what you have, charting your own course and believing you are worthy of love.


Check below for Bonnie’s secret about Patchwork Family.

Bonnie Tharp was without an agent when she sold Feisty Family Values to Five Star, a Division of Gale/Cengage. The novel was published as a part of Five Star’s Expressions line. Five Star has since discontinued the Expressions line and no longer published women’s fiction, so Patchwork Family, the sequel to award-winning Feisty Family Values, is now looking for both an agent and a new publisher.

Special thanks to vintage feedsacks for the use of her images.


February 17, 2012

In this Keyhole Conversations video, Conrad Jestmore reads a scene from his mystery novel, River of Murder, in which PI Jimmy ‘OReilly and university professor and bone specialist Laura Bascome find a missing finger bone in a most unusual place. Read below for more secrets on River of Murder and some facts about bones. His book can be found here.



“Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones, dem bones gonna walk around.”

Traditional spiritual song , based on Ezekiel, who prophesied in the Valley of Dry Bones, that the bones would come alive.

Bones do come alive, because they

  • survive the process of decay
  • provide living evidence
  • can verify age, sex, ancestry, stature, weight
  • can show manner of death: homicide, suicide, accidental, natural, unknown
  • can show cause: injury, disease, combination
  • can verify time of death

There are 206 bones in the adult human body.

There are 27 bones in the human hand.

A phalanx is a military formation. It is also a finger bone.

A proximal phalanx has multiple usages. Not all of them human. Not all of them alive.

Find the bones. Find the killer.


February 3, 2012

Fourth in Keyhole Conversations Authors/Artists series is H.B. Berlow, who produces some of his art using the Oops method. “What’s that?” you ask.  Climb aboard. You’re about to find out.

Similar to Jackson Pollock, H.B. creates exciting free-flowing works of art, paintings that crackle with energy. One has the feeling this writer turned painter approaches life with optimism, energy, and enthusiasm.

Can you can guess from his paintings the kinds of genres he writes? Watch the video below to find out.

Read what this author has to say about how he was drawn to painting while simultaneously creating novels

“Before I joined KWA, before the blog and the website and the book trailers, I was basically figuring out where to go and what to do with my writing. At the time, I was doing nothing with my writing. But I still needed a creative outlet.

A friend made a comment about what he termed “Oops” paint, the leftovers or unsellables from stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. I got a wild idea to buy plastic squirt bottles, mix up various colors, lay a canvas on the floor of the garage on top of a tarp, and squirt the paint, similar to Jackson Pollock’s drippings. From there, I used old kitchen utensils, cords from draperies, cheap brushes, wooden or plastic stirrers–anything odd or unique to create a texture.

“I like color. I like free-flowing images. The work is another form of creative expression that ties in with my writing. My painting and other art work has progressed in an open fashion as I allow a freedom of expression to take over.”