Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Copper Coins Gift Shop is FANTASTIC god wants me well is the new book's trailer. I'm having a fantastic time selling this book at The Copper Coins gifts shop on Commercial street in old Branson downtown around the corner from the Victorian shop.
Come by for a visit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm so Excited!

I'm so excited! I just spent two delightful days signing books at Branson's Autumn Daze fest. I shared a booth with the famous Mary Boll, author of MeMa's Manna and two other cookbooks for people like me--kitchen challenged. That cute little lady has cookbooks in every Bass Pro shop from here to Canada!
The third day I shared the booth with dulcimer artist Linda Sartis. Her husband's books are amazing.

I had to explain to passers-by how our fan club was just making so much noise and screaming and shouting that the Festival police asked them to leave the tent. I also said our $600 books were on sale for only $15.
And for another $15 we would throw in the meat hooks that our neighbors were selling like hot cakes.

I'm thinking of writing a cook book for dummies like myself, who once tried to bake a cream pie on the stove burner instead of the oven. Am I the only one who is that dumb?
But for other new brides who are just starting to get kitchen-acquainted, I may offer a little basic advice and maybe even a few actual recipes.
In the meantime, I have had three different publishing houses offer consideration (one of them an actual contract) for my book. Wow!
I'm so excited, like my cat, I don't know whether to scratch up the sofa, or like my dog, puddle by the door step!

Think I'll just whip up one of Mary Boll's recipes instead. How about a low calorie soup?
Sauteed bees knees and hummingbird drum sticks?

Monday, September 3, 2012


I am posting some of my FAVORITE SCENES from fellow writers who have works in progress. The scenes which get the most "Likes" after three months will receive a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Reader Questions About Innocent Man

Shadow in the Rain
Readers Want to Know:

Readers of the book Shadow in the Rain, a novel by news reporter Harriett Ford, (that’s me) are asking questions. Many of these questions have answers, unlike the murder investigation itself.
Truth is always stranger than fiction, because truth has to be believable.
My book is the true story of romance, murder, lies, missing tapes, and a conviction with no forensic evidence, no murder weapon ever found, no motive, and a single eye witness who changed his story fifteen times as a matter of court record.

During my investigation, I worked with a nationally known forensics scientist and a private investigator, each of whom came to believe the wrong man was convicted. The accused murderer, Ted Kuhl, has been serving a 50-year sentence since 1997. 

News readers know that Ted Kuhl and his girlfriend Janet Nivinski enjoyed a late night at a restaurant with several friends including Christa Peterson. At 1:30 a.m. on that bitter cold December, Ted walked Janet and Christa out to the parking lot. Christa stopped at her own car and began to scrape frost off the windshield.  Ted and Janet walked about six cars away. He kissed Janet goodnight, and turned his back to head for his own car across the parking lot when Janet screamed. Four to five gunshots rang out. Kuhl ducked and ran, dodging bullets. He grabbed Christa, who had tried to duck under her vehicle, and hurried her back inside the restaurant. He then ran back out accompanied by Dan Johnson, to find Janet beyond help, a bullet in her brain.
People who attended the trial, read newspaper accounts of the crime, and are reading Shadow in the Rain have asked the following questions.

Q. How much of the reporter, Tia Marie Burgess, is you?
A. Naturally I chose to reinvent myself as the young, beautiful, and tragic heroine. What grandmother wouldn't?
Actually, the character of Tia is completely fictional. However the investigation that she conducts in the book was my experience. Cap, her romantic interest, is entirely fictional.
Q. Why did you decide to weave a fictional subplot into your story of the Kuhl case?
A. For two reasons. First, it’s a fact that women are the largest group to purchase books, and they typically gravitate to romance. I wanted to reach that population. Judges, attorneys, senators and governors have wives. Perhaps one of them will read the book and persuade her husband that this man's case deserves another look. 
Second, I had to create some suspense and bring the reader to a somewhat satisfactory conclusion. Since there is no happy ending for Ted Kuhl at this time, I chose to develop the romantic angle for that reason.
There is also a third reason.  You may guess about that one.
Q. Ted lied when he said Janet had a gun, which was untrue. She died with a glass in one hand and car keys in the other. --Cheri Nivinski (a family member of the victim).
A. Ted did not say Janet had a gun. It was the police who suggested that possibility in a hypothetical scenario of the crime.
Q. Why did Ted sign a confession right after he got off work? 
Ted did not sign a confession. Police typed up their idea of what “accidentally” happened. They told Ted he could go home if he would only sign it. This was after he had worked a full day and then endured fourteen hours of brutal interrogation. An exhausted Ted had been awake almost 24 hours at that time. 
Q. Ricky Mueller, the star witness and Ted’s good friend, testified at trial that he saw Ted aiming the gun from 50 feet away at the victim. How close was the gunman when he fired the actual shot?
A. According to Forensics specialist Dr. Blum, gunpowder stippling around the wound showed Janet was shot from as close as five inches. This leaves a huge contradiction between Mueller’s statement and Dr. Blum's.
Q. What about Mueller’s statement that he saw Ted’s green ball cap as he walked toward the victim aiming the gun?
Another contradiction: Mueller swore Ted was wearing a green ball cap. Ted's cap was white. Ted’s attorney neglected to display it to the jury or to point out the discrepancy.
Q. Wasn’t Ted struggling with the victim when the gun went off?
A. On the contrary, Ted was seen kissing Janet goodnight. To fire the gun directly in front of Janet--as written in the hypothetical scenario--the bullet would not have struck her in the right temple. Not unless Ted was left-handed and also a contortionist.
However, the wound on the right side of Janet's head (according to the death certificate) makes perfect sense if she had turned to look at Ted who was walking away with his back turned to her, according to both himself and at least three other witnesses.
Q. Didn’t Ricky Mueller testify that he heard Ted say he planned to kill Janet at the bar that night?
A. Yes, Mueller did say that, but he later said in court that he did not remember ever hearing Ted make that statement. Mueller changed his statement no less than 16 times as a matter of court record, which raises serious questions about his credibility.
Q. Did the prosecutor withhold this retraction from the jury?
Yes, Assistant State's Attorney Mark Karner admitted under oath that he had withheld this information from the jury. Without doubt, this information would have made a huge difference in the trial’s outcome.
Q. If Ted and Christa Peterson (the victim’s best friend) were not having an affair, why did she spend the night at his place the very night after the murder?
A. Christa's ex-husband had their children for the weekend, and she was understandably afraid to stay alone. She asked Ted if she could sleep on his sofa.
Remember, Christa had just seen her best friend shot and killed. Significantly, only twelve weeks earlier, Christa’s former boyfriend also had been shot to death in a drug-related shooting. She was terrified that the killer had seen her at the death scene and would come after her. In fact she believed he had fired shots at her and at Ted while she was trying to hide underneath her car, a fact that other witnesses verified.   
Q. Why didn’t Ted first run to Janet instead of to Christa?
A. Ted ran from gunfire. Perhaps he believed Janet was hiding. The manager from the game place saw Ted running "as if dodging bullets," then kneeling, then running again. He never saw Ted with a gun or attempting to hide one. 
Q. Why are you so convinced Ted and Christa never had an affair? 
A.I interviewed numerous people who knew Ted, Christa and Janet well and socialized with them. None of them believed Ted and Christa were involved in an affair. One of Ted’s coworkers passed by his house nightly on the way home. He said Christa’s car was never there, only Janet’s.  
Q. What makes you so sure Christa is telling the truth?
I have sat with Christa, looked her in the eyes, and observed her behavior. She actually went to a therapist and asked to be put under hypnosis to find out if she had repressed memories as the police suggested. In fact she did not suppress her memories. Her testimony has remained completely consistent and has never changed since her first statements to police.
Q. Is there any other motive for the murder?
A. There are many possible gang-related motives, but none for Ted. Janet has a twin sister who was involved with a gang member. The private investigator thought the murder could have been a mistaken identity.
More importantly, even if Ted and Christa were having an affair, this was not a motive for murder. Janet had already moved out of the house, and Ted was free to date whomever. The two women remained best friends and were planning a trip together. Where was the need for murder? This theory flies in the face of their behavior.
It appears far more likely the drive-by gangland style shooting was the reason Janet died. Also she was involved in an investigation at the bank where she had uncovered something “not right.” Money is always a motive for crime.
Q. Didn’t the prosecutor say Ted lied from the beginning of the investigation, and that an innocent man does not lie?
A. Yes, Ted lied and the prosecutor did use this information to turn the jury against him even though it had nothing to do with the investigation. For 20 years, Ted had claimed he served in Vietnam, first in order to gain points with an employer and later with Janet's pro-military father. During the entire 20 years, Ted never killed anybody. If all people who ever told a lie are also murderers, there wouldn't be enough prisons to hold them.
Q. The jury heard the gun was there, but never found. Wouldn't the police have checked Ted, Mueller and Christa for a gun?
A. Even the greenest cop knows to do that.  Loves Park police chief Darryl Lindberg told me personally that he instructed his officers to check Ted's truck.
Q. Why was this information withheld from the jury?
A. Police did not write in reports that they checked the car and did not find a gun. Without a police report to confirm it, prosecutors could suggest to the jury that the weapon had to be there.
Q. How do you know Ted did not have time to hide the gun?
A. Ted was never alone in the parking lot. He first saw Christa to safety, running under gunfire. Then he immediately ran back to Janet’s body accompanied by Dan Johnson. Police arrived within in three minutes of the 911 call made by Ricky Mueller. They seated Ted in a squad car to stop him from banging on car windshields and demanding, “Who did this?”
Q. Couldn't Ted have tossed the gun into Christa's car or his own pickup?
A. No, there simply wasn't time. Private investigator Joe Lamb documented the time line very accurately from video surveillance cameras. Ted had barely 12 seconds from the time of the first shot until he and Christa ran inside the bar. His truck was parked nearer Mueller's van on the far side of the parking lot.  In addition, the security cameras would have shown any attempt to toss or hide a weapon.
Q. What did the video camera show?
Actually, there were six cameras taken by police, which went missing. Private Investigator Joe Lamb was mystified by this missing evidence and by what these films may have revealed. He found the mountings for these cameras which had been removed.
Q. The charge against Ted was First Degree premeditated murder. Doesn't that mean that a crime-of-passion, as theorized by prosecutors, should be a lesser charge?
A. That is a logical assumption. Premeditated murder implies willful planning rather sudden violence.
Q. Why would anyone sign a "confession" or hypothetical scenario of the crime if he were actually innocent?
A. As unbelievable as it may seem, false confessions happen regularly and frequently. A suspect is threatened during an interrogation. One veteran interrogator told me he could get a confession out of a ham sandwich. Police can imply they have evidence against a suspect. He hears he will get the death penalty if he doesn't confess. Many times he breaks down and agrees to a lesser charge in order to avoid a certain conviction.
Q. Do false confessions happen often?
False confessions happened 14 times in Illinois alone during the 1980s to 2000, and each suspect received the death penalty. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, DNA evidence exonerated 13 of those men, one of them just hours away from execution.
Nationwide, there have been some 200 murder convictions overturned since DNA has finally come into its own. Many of these convicts confessed to murders they did not commit.
Exhausted,Ted signed the statement, believing that as the facts of the case came forth he would be declared innocent.
Q. Why would anyone plan a murder in front of ten or more witnesses in the parking lot?
A. Why indeed? If he was planning to kill Janet for some unknown reason, he had plenty of opportunity to lure her into a secluded area where he need not fear being seen.
Q. In your book, the leader of the Satan’s Disciples wrote a letter hinting that he was the killer. Is that true, and Did police ever check into it?  
A. It is true. I turned the letter over to investigators. They never checked it out. Members of the Satan’s Disciples gang are documented as being in the parking lot that night, as well as other persons with violent histories. Some were convicted of a drive-by shooting of a Rockford woman only two years later.  
Q. Why did Mueller suddenly accuse his best friend?
A. I can guess. After hours of exhaustive interrogation, an officer asked him what he was afraid of. Mueller answered, "Of not spending the rest of my life with my wife and kids." It seems likely that Mueller believed he would be charged.  
Q. Why did police let the barefoot driver wearing the fake beard simply leave the scene?
A. I don’t know. Reason tells me that this driver should have been thoroughly checked. Why was he barefoot on a bitter cold December night? Why was he wearing a fake beard?
Q. Do you think you're smarter than the jury?
A. No. If I had sat on that jury I probably would have reached the same conclusion they did. However, I have access to more complete information than the jury was allowed to hear.
Q. Isn't this story mostly your personal opinion? What actual sources did you use to document your theory?
A. Most of my information comes from exhaustive notes collected by Joe Lamb, former Register Star investigative reporter turned private eye. For over a year, Joe worked the case, conducted his own ballistics tests and thoroughly pursued many aspects of the crime.  I also had access to police reports, witness interviews, court records, the recorded accusation on the "overhear tape", the signed hypothetical scenario, and the print-out results of Christa's and Mueller's lie detector tests. I had a detailed account of the activities of the suspects on the day of the crime furnished by Defense Attorney Dan Cain. In addition, I interviewed several people involved in the crime, witnesses and friends of Janet and Ted. 
Q. Aren’t you the only one who believes Ted is not guilty?
I am not alone in my conclusion that Ted is not guilty. At the end of my book is a 25-page analysis of the crime done by Forensic Scientist Arthur Chancellor, an eye-opening report. With his weighty and impressive resume, he can hardly be ignored.
Q. Where can I buy the book? or any local bookstore, and .

Monday, April 30, 2012


I received the following message from a dear friend. I copied and pasted it below because it is an encouraging word to anyone seeking the Lord for healing. 

Doria wrote:
I have been struggling terribly with migraines. I am suffering much, even now laying on an ice pack and finally reading a book written by you,  my friend.  I have suffered migraines for 28 years.  Two weeks ago, I admitted myself to the Diamond Headache Clinic at St. Joseph's Hospital.  I took 9 two-hour IV treatments every eight hours for four days.  I had a horrible 3 am experience with a brutal, unkind nurse (who, after reading your book, I know I need to forgive.)  I have been out of the hospital for two weeks.  I have had daily headaches...and not many options.  I do not want to go back into the hospital.

I have no place left to turn but God.  So tonight, through tears, I am reading your book.  It us resonating with me.  I am reading the scriptures.  I choose to believe that I am healed.  I know that it is not God's will for either my daughter or me to suffer with sickness.  I believe that God will completely restore both of us to health.  James 5:15 "The prayer of faith will heal the sick and the Lord will raise him up." I will not stop or believing or proclaiming God's word, even if the symptoms continue.  I choose to trust the truth of God's word, no matter what pain tries to tell me.  I have no where else to go, but to God and His word.  I am greatly encouraged by the words of your book.  Thank you for writing it.  I will be in touch:)

After Doria sent the above email, I gave her Durmond's phone number. She called him for prayer and this is her VICTORIOUS REPORT below. 
I just got off the phone with Durmond Blatnik.  What a blessing!  Today, on April 25, 2012, God not only set me free from panic attacks, chest pain, and migraines, but he unleashed a spiritual rebirth in my life.  On August 4, 2000, the day of my divorce, I lost the child-like connection I had with my heavenly Father.  But today, at about 11 am Arizona time, (1 o'clock Illinois time) I confessed unforgiveness I had harbored toward Dan, against myself, and against God. 
I am delivered.  I am free.
I am delivered.  I am free.
I am delivered.  I am free.
I have recently been claiming Jeremiah 24:7 for my children, "I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart."
God just revealed to me, that it is I who first needed to return to my God with my whole heart.  How good God is! 
I would like to visit you in Branson, MO so that we can re-connect.
Love in Christ,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Experience-based theology

Most people have an experience-based theology. They believe only what they have experienced through their five senses.
What does it mean to have a word-based theology? Simply this:
The Word of God is True, whether we experience it or not.
Word-based theology means God's word becomes manifest in my life when I speak His words (instead of whatever the experience may be) and doubt it not.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chocolate or spinach?

Lord, couldn't You put a few more vitamins in chocolate than are in spinach? Not that I don't like spinach. Thank You for spinach. I'll eat some next summer. Now? Okay.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What is more real?

What is more real? The things we experience through the five senses? Or the eternal things we cannot see?
Some would answer both. However, the things we see with our natural eyes are temporary. The things we see through Faith are eternal.
Thought for the Easter season. When the penitent brought a lamb to be sacrificed for his sins, the priest did not examine him. He examined the lamb for blemishes. Jesus is the Lamb of God without blemish. I'm so glad that He is perfect, and His is only sacrifice that is acceptable.
Whee! I'm back on my blog, which has been down for awhile.