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Deadly Sanctuary - The Movie

 Wow!  What an incredible experience!  

At 4am on a chilly Sunday morning, May 18th, 2014 just as the first light of dawn illuminated the eastern horizon, Director Nancy Criss shouted out, “It’s a wrap!”  And with those three words, amid the cheers and applause of the cast and crew, the film version of Deadly Sanctuary was complete and my exciting 5 month adventure was over. I have to tell you, it was no easy task to bring Kendall O’Dell, Tally, Tugg, Ginger and all of your other favorite characters from the novel to life on film, but our list of talented artists did a wonderful job!

The cast of characters include Rebekah Kochan as Kendall and Marco Dapper (Y&R) as Tally, Eric Roberts as Tugg, Dean Cain as Roy Hollingsworth, Daniel Baldwin as Dr. Price, Paul Greene(Bitten) as Eric Heisler, Teri Lee as Ginger, and Bobbi Jeen Olsen as Claudia. To see a full listing of all actors and actresses go here - IMBD Deadly Sanctuary (2015) What a great cast we have with some great talent!!!

The pre-production phase of making a film entails dealing with literally thousands of details from choosing the right cast and crew to spending endless hours scouting out locations, endless discussions with the Director of Photography and the Director, obtaining necessary permits, renting the right camera equipment, having sets built, etc, consulting with wardrobe, makeup and hair.  I made literally hundreds of phone calls, sent hundreds of emails, faxes, there were scores of meetings and many important and difficult decisions to be made.  And making a film is a rather expensive proposition as well.  Everyone had to work long hours under some uncomfortable conditions.  We had heat, wind, dust, bugs and noise, but everyone worked cheerfully and with enthusiasm.  It was truly one of the most amazing events of my entire life and I am as excited as all my fans to see the finished product!

I learned alot.  Being the writer is one thing, but stepping into the shoes of a film producer entails far more work than one could ever imagine.  The process was exhausting, exhilarating, stressful, enlightening and truly educational.  It came as a surprise to me how deflated I felt when it was all over and after our movie “family” disbanded to head to other projects. 

We are now in the post-production phase of the film which can take anywhere from 6 to 8 months.  Thank you for all your support and encouragement to bring Kendall to the big screen!  I will keep you posted along the way.  Here are a few photos from the set.

(Read more about the Making of Deadly Sanctuary HERE)

It's A Wrap!

Well, we wrapped production on Deadly Sanctuary Sunday morning at 4am!!!  After 4 months of pre-production and 16 days of shooting, I can’t believe it’s over!  What an incredible, amazing, educational, life-changing journey!  It was the hardest yet most rewarding work I’ve ever done in my entire life and I loved every minute of it!  Next comes post production and then the whole world will get to know Miss Kendall O’Dell.  Rebekah Kochan nailed her part along with all the other talented actors onset.  And we had the best crew ever assembled and the best food!  So many fans stepped forward to push this project along.  I cannot thank everyone enough.

More to come soon!!!


News From the Film Production Field

Being a member of the production team for the film version of my novel Deadly Sanctuary is exciting almost beyond words, educational and enlighting all at once!  Now that we are only about six weeks out from our start date, the pressure to get everything in place is mounting.  As you can see, our cast list (see Deadly Sanctuary 2015 on IMDB.com) is really impressive and we have found almost all of our locations.  I have to say, having been out hunting for just the right locations with our DP, Pete Brown this past week has given me a new respect for people who do this for a living.  I am learning so much!  At the same time it is exhilirating to explore the small towns and travel the dusty backroads of this gloriously beautiful state, it is also exhausting!  I’ve driven hundreds of miles on some roads so rough, I’m amazed my car was able to survive the journey.  

It’s endlessly fascinating to be a part in this amazing adventure and work with such talented people as Nancy Criss, Harvey Lowry, and many others who are working hard to complete all the details necessary to commence principal photography on April 28th!  Having the script revised by Bower Yousse has breathed new life in this story and is sure to please audiences world-wide.  

On location, we walked through the scenes going over lines of dialogue and describing actions for the actors.  Many times I stood in for my character Kendall so Pete could study the various angles and lighting for the scene.  It struck me as I stood there on a windy hilltop how similiar location scouting for a film is to my usual tromping around the state researching for my books...but there is one stark difference.  Writing fiction allows me the freedom to simply make some things up, move mountains and roads around so they fit with my story, build fictional towns, and create characters to fashion scenes the way I want them to appear to the reader.  There is no such freedom when making a film.  What the camera sees, the viewers sees, so we have to be very exact and that is a whole new experience for me and I’m loving every minute of it!!


Link to Music Video Appearance

Sylvia Nobel's appearance in the music video for Nick Nicholson's touching and hauntingly beautiful song, "I've Loved" is now available!


Nick Nicholson's "I've Loved" is available on iTunes.


Music Video Appearance

What an interesting, exciting and once-in-a-lifetime experience!  Bobbi Jeen Olson, Arizona's "cowgirl" very kindly asked me if I would like to play her best friend in a music video that was filmed in Phoenix, Arizona in November, 2013.  Bobbi Jeen is an accomplished actress/model/stuntwoman and I was so flattered that she would choose me!  We both have an ardent love of the American West, especially Arizona, and both strive to keep the Western lifestyle alive.  She does it by actually being an Arizona rancher, expert roper and horsewoman.  I do it by writing the Kendall O'Dell mystery series all of which are designed to showcase the rugged beauty of Arizona.

The video was produced by Ed Waters and Jack Howell, directed and shot by Jacob Sacks and stars Bobbi Jeen Olson and the touching and hauntingly beautiful song, "I've Loved" is performed by country singer Nick Nicholson, who plays opposite Bobbi Jeen's character. It is a moving story of love and loss which will bring tears of joy and sorrow to the viewer as we have all experienced losing a loved one.   

The day began early!  We rose at 3:00 am each day for makeup and hair which was provided by the very talented Brenda d'Usseaux from Zolton's Salon in Scottsdale.  She is my hair stylist as well as a professional makeup artist and has worked on several major motion pictures as well as many independent films and appears regularly on Channel 3 in Phoenix.  Shootiing began at 6am in the morning and continued until sunset.  Several of the scenes were filmed at my house.  The wedding scene was filmed by our pool and I play the Maid of Honor as Bobbi Jeen's best friend.  I got to wear a stunning Jessica Simpson dress and Bobbi Jeen wore her own wedding gown for the scene.  

Having produced the Deadly Sanctuary book trailer, which can be viewed on this site, it was fascinating to be involved in the process of making this video.  Everyone was very professional and I think the finished product will be amazing.  I think it turned out beautifully, don't you?

Kendall Blogs!!!

Just for fun, I thought you might want to read Kendall's first blog post and find out what our feisty sleuth is up to!  This is a preview of Kendall's new adventure entitled:  FORBIDDEN ENTRY.  My goal is to complete the 1st draft of the manuscript by year's end.  A big thanks to all my fans for hanging in there with me while I finish the 5th book in the series.   


Kendall O’Dell’s Blog
Castle Valley, Arizona
Okay.  Here’s what I know so far. The young couple was found dead inside their camper mired in the mud on a closed Forest service road high in the Bradshaw Mountains following a huge December snowstorm.  Sadly, the dead girl is my best friend Ginger’s cousin.  The sheriff is calling it an accident, but after what Ginger just told me, now I’m not so sure!
I’d jump into this case right now but the timing couldn’t be worse.  Right now, I’m waiting here at the airport to pick up my family flying in from Pennsylvania.  I haven’t seen them in person since I took the reporting job here in Castle Valley nine months ago and I’ve spent weeks planning this sightseeing tour of Arizona.   What a dilemma!
By the way, they’re coming to celebrate my engagement to Tally, (full name Bradley James Talverson, owner of the Starfire Ranch and the love of my life.  I’ve got some challenges ahead.  His mother hates my guts and my mom’s not too keen on the idea of me living out in the sticks and settling to be the wife of a ‘backwoods cowboy’, as she puts it.  Wait until she meets him, he’s loaded, tall, dark and drop-dead gorgeous! J
Whoa!  Just got a text from my friend in the forensics unit.  She found something strange at the scene and I can’t do a damn thing about it!  (Plus that, Tally would have a major cow.)  He thinks I’m impulsive, pig-headed and continually get myself into trouble chasing down these dangerous assignments.  He’s probably right, but I can’t help myself! 
 I’ll write when I know more!



A Death in the Desert

Deep into the research part of Deadly Sanctuary, I needed to know more about what happens after someone dies in the desert.  That prompted my first call to the Yavapai County Medical Examiner's office.  When the medical examiner came on the line I told him I was a writer doing research for a murder mystery.  He was super cooperative and answered all of my questions with clipped professionalism.

A few of the questions I posed were, " If all that remains are a few bones, how do you identify the body as male or female?  How long does it take for a body to decompose? How do you determine the cause of death?"  He answered that the condition of the body when discovered was the most important factor for identification, although sometimes even bodies in relatively good condition remain as John and Jane Does forever.  I was shocked to learn that a body can completely decompose in the Arizona summer heat in only THREE days!  

Additional problems arise when animals scatter the remains for miles around.  I remember him saying that he was always thrilled if he could find a pelvic or femur bone which would help identify the sex of the victim.  He said the best scenario was to find an intact skull.  Careful preservation of the crime scene allows the authorities to gather vital clues that can help them determine if the cause of death is natural or suspicious. I asked dozens more questions and then thanked him for his help.

Read more: A Death in the Desert

Fun Facts about Kendall O'Dell

Back Story Tidbits 

I wanted to share with you, dear Kendall O'Dell readers, some of the interesting details, stories and events that occured during the writing stage of my novels.  First of all, researching and writing a novel is NOT easy and it takes a lot of time to do it right.  I learned that the mystery genre is quite different from mainstream fiction because the writer must be aware that the reader is an active participant.  There are set rules to which the writer must adhere.  

Even though I had started writing at the age of seven and read mysteries voraciously throughout my life, when I began taking the manuscript writing classes, it became clear how much I didn't know about the writing process.  The additional fact that I had decided to base my novels on actual cases and newspaper articles meant my research had to be exact.  Mystery readers are a sophisticated lot and nothing turns a reader off faster than an author who has not taken the time to ferret out the facts.  My work began in earnest.  

Read more: Fun Facts about Kendall O'Dell

Hooray for Hollywood

The Invitation

Imagine my excitement when William Wages, the director and cinematographer of the Deadly Sanctuary Book Trailer we had just produced called to tell me that he had arranged for me and my husband, Jerry, to attend the black tie ASC Awards Dinner in Hollywood where he would receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in cinematography!  What an honor to be invited to share in such an amazing event, I thought, and then it occurred to me that I had absolutely NOTHING suitable to wear!

Shopping for the Trip

My dear friend, Wilma, joined me on a shopping trip and helped me find the perfect (and relatively cheap) gown and shoes.  Finding the suitable jewelry came a little later and I was thrilled to be able to put the whole ensemble together within my budget!  I knew I'd be in the company of ladies gliding about in gorgeous, expensive designer gowns and jewelry and I sure didn't want to look like the "country bumpkin" from Phoenix. My husband found the perfect tux and we were off to Hollywood!

Life after dark

It's an easy six hour drive from Phoenix and we arrived at the Renaissance Hotel by 5pm in spite of the ever-present irritation of rush-hour traffic in Los Angeles. The hotel staff was gracious, professional, helpful and our room was on the 11th floor overlooking the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards are held each year.  We had a wonderful Valentine's Day dinner at the Grill in the nearby mall and then decided to explore Hollywood at night.

What a kick!  It's like Halloween 24/7 on Hollywood Blvd.  Actually, it was kind of like Halloween and the State Fair combined.  Scores of young people dressed as characters from blockbuster films roamed the star and handprint-embedded sidewalks in hopes tourists would pay them to have their photos taken with them.  Back dropped by colorful neon lights, we walked past more young people playing a variety of musical instruments, singing, dancing, and there was a fair number of young ladies parading about in scanty outfits.  It was noisy, crazy, a bit overwhelming at first, but most entertaining. I got the feeling that almost everyone we saw there was a "wannabe" waiting for their big break, but alas, were relegated to perform on the fringe of the film industry which dominates every facet of life in the downtown region of Hollywood.

Read more: Hooray for Hollywood

Deadly Sanctuary Book Trailer

My days are getting so full, I wish I could add another few hours to them without having to give up sleeping altogether! In between trying to help market the Deadly Sanctuary book trailer on social media, personal appearances, book signings, having my love story, A Scent of Jasmine, reissued in April in print & eBook format, trying to squeeze in time for family and friends and just trying to keep up the housework & take care of my six cats—I'm trying to finish the 5th Kendall O'Dell mystery. Yikes! I wish I had the 8 or 10 hours a day to write like I used to have before I had six books in print. But…I can't complain. Life is good and I have recently lost 26 pounds, so I'm feeling more energetic.

For those of you who have not viewed the Deadly Sanctuary Book Trailer, I hope you will and also tell your friends and family to view it. It was an amazing experience to put it together. From inception to completion of the project took almost 4 months! I was so fortunate to have 30 year Hollywood veteran cinematographer, William Wages, agree to shoot the trailer. For those of you who do not know what a book trailer is, it is like a movie preview only designed to interest readers in the Kendall O'Dell mystery series. It was so great working with such a wonderful, competent professional like Bill Wages. There were a million details to attend to. First we had to decide what scenes from Deadly Sanctuary to film. For those of you familiar with the book, we chose just a few scenes from the beginning chapter & then threw in a scene from later on in the book. Right away, we realized we could not use the opening scene as written, so we had to create a new scene. Javelinas are too wild to control and expensive to rent. I came up with the idea of stealing from yet another scene later on in the book. We ended up using tarantulas and hired a professional tarantula wrangler. Then I had to rent a car for Kendall to drive, arrange for airfare and find actors. It was a very interesting experience auditioning the actors at the talent agency and I knew right away that Phoenix actress Jennifer Perry would be perfect for the part of Kendall O'Dell. Joe Jobe won the part for Tally and Cameo Williams played the teenage girl. Brenda d'Usseaux, who has been my hairdresser for many years is also a professional makeup artist (she has worked on a lot of films) was hired to do hair & makeup. I had to find a good location and it ended up being the beautiful ranch near Congress, AZ that we were going to use for the film. The hosts were so gracious and Gayle even catered for the 2 day shoot. I had to rent an RV so we would have a base on the location, arrange for the motel for all the actors and crew. My husband Jerry & I were part of the crew. I had great fun choosing the wardrobe for Kendall's scenes. We needed a convertible and a pickup truck, lots of props which I had to gather. The only thing that I could not control was the weather and boy were we lucky. The day of the shoot was 70 degrees and sunny. It was so fascinating watching Bill find the locations, set the scenes and direct the actors. I couldn't believe it but I actually HELD the tarantula in my hand!! I am not a big fan of spiders, so it was an amazing experience and gave me a good idea of the kind of work (and money) involved in making an entire movie. I thank everyone for all of their help and support on this undertaking.

Everything went amazingly well & then came the editing, voice overs, shooting the book covers and credits. I think it looks so professional compared to a lot of the trailers out there on the Internet.

Bill Wages is receiving a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers on February 12th in Hollywood and he was able to snag some tickets for us! I had a ball shopping for a gown & shoes and am so excited about attending this huge event and seeing Bill receive his award. What fun!!! What an adventure.

I know my fans have been waiting a long time for the next book and I apologize that it is taking me so long. Like I said, the quiet life I used to have when I could put a book out every two years doesn't exist any longer, and I've had endless interruptions , including the ongoing litigation regarding the demise of our film project. Most of you are aware of what happened. We hope it will be resolved soon. 

So, dear readers, hang in there with me and I appreciate your loyalty more than you know. I'll keep you posted!


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  The film version of Deadly Sanctuary is now in development with Kendal O'Dell being portrayed by REBEKAH KOCHAN and Bradley Talverson (Tally) being portrayed by daytime soap star Young & the Restless' MARCO DAPPER!!!  Daniel Baldwin, Dean Cain, and Eric Roberts, as well as several others, have been chosen for additional roles.    

   The town chosen to be used for most of the filming of 'Castle Valley' will be Black Canyon City.  Along with this quaint little town, we have also found a perfect ranch for many other settings - Bumble Bee Ranch.  This is going to be so exciting!  

   So now that we have the actors in place and the locations chosen for filming, we could use some help with production.  Here's how you can help out:  FIRST - spread the word about Kendall O'Dell's first adventure being put to film and SECOND -  go here Deadly Sanctuary/Nandar Entertainment to choose an incentive you would like to recieve and then make the production pledge that goes with it!  

   If you're not into online pledging, just click on announcements (above) to read more for additional ways you can help produce this film with us and view some photos from a recent location scouting. Thanks again for your support!




Hello Readers!  I thank you so much for visiting the Nite Owl Books website!

I would like to give you a little more insight and some of the backstory that went into writing the Kendall O'Dell Mystery series.  One of my favorite classes besides creative writing was journalism.  I thought it would be the best of both worlds to combine my love of writing and my curious nature.  But alas, becoming a journalist was not in the cards for me.

About half way through all the various writing courses that I took, my lifelong love of the mystery genre and the unfulfilled longing to be a reporter began to take shape in my mind.  I already had a file folder filled with newspaper articles, mostly of unsolved murder cases and a collection of really quirky stories.  It came to me suddenly one day that I could combine all of these things together and create an interesting mystery.

It took awhile for my heroine, Kendall O'Dell to come to life.  She is a combination of several people who made a lasting impact on my life.  I gave her some of their characteristics, some good, some bad, some exasperating, some endearing and yes, a few of my own mannerisms managed to sneak into the mix.  I often tell my readers that I live vicariously through this character because she gets to do all the things I'll never have a chance to do!

Becoming Kendall O'Dell

Next came the task of researching the job of an investigative reporter.  I read all of the information I could find on the subject and then decided the best thing to do would be too hang out with one while he/she worked.  I did just that and picked up invaluable information which I have folded into each of the novels that are based on actual newspaper articles (I thread 10 to 12 articles into each book) and events that happen in everyday life.

The plot line for Deadly Sanctuary, the 1st book in the series, was based on a fascinating situation involving some friends of mine.  I combined their extraordinary experiences with a handful of local news stories, injected some history, humor, a dash of romance and Kendall's adventures began to take shape.

Finding Castle Valley

My next challenge was to find a suitable setting.  I needed a place that still retained the flavor of the "old west", a place that had not been urbanized like a lot of the communities in Arizona.  After traveling around the state, I finally chose Wickenburg, a quiet, little town about an hour northwest of Phoenix to became Castle Valley in my series.  I had great fun just walking the streets soaking up the ambiance and talking to the locals.

The remainder of the cast of characters followed and then came the hard part...actually sitting down to begin putting the story together! The process of writing can be enjoyable, tedious, frustrating and fascinating all at once.

A bizarre story set in Southern Arizona

When I finished Deadly Sanctuary, I had no intention of making it a series, but after a while, I missed the fictional town and all my friends, so I returned to Castle Valley several years later to start The Devil's Cradle.  This one is based on the strangest story I had ever read and when you finish it, you'll have some idea of the bizarre research I had to do to complete it.

I'm happy to say that only a handful of readers have ever guessed the end of this one!  I set it in the Bisbee area and used the stunning Dragoon Mountains as a backdrop.  My research included going down into a vertical mine and tramping around old cemeteries and ghost towns in Southern Arizona on six different research trips. I loved each and every one of them and so enjoy showcasing the stunning Arizona scenery.  I will be posting some of the photos from my research trips soon.

More suspense follows at the AZ/Mexico border

The novels were so well-received that the idea for the 3rd book was born.  Dark Moon Crossing, set near the tiny border towns of Arrivaca and Sasabe, tackles the controversial border crossing issue which affects the lives of every person who lives in Arizona and remains just as timely and just as hot of a topic today as the day it was written.  I was fortunate enough to have a friend in the Intel division of the Border Patrol who arranged for me to go with him on four ride alongs.  I was in on two captures, one of which I wrote into the book.  Many people have written to tell me that the ending of this adventure gave them the chills and nightmares.  To me, that is good news!


Danger awaits Kendall when she Returns to Castle Valley

Seeds of Vengeance followed next and I was fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Laura Fulginiti, the leading Forensic Anthropologist with the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office in Phoenix and one of the best in the entire country.  She advised me throughout the writing of this 4th book which was based on 3 very prominent cases in the Phoenix metropolitan area.  It was quite a challenge, but great fun to write!

A love story set in Phoenix, Arizona

I want to thank all of my wonderful, loyal fans for their patience over these past years as I continue writing Kendall's 5th adventure.  In the meantime, Nite Owl Books has re-issued my love story, A Scent of Jasmine,which is available now for those readers who enjoy a little more romance!  Happy Reading!  Sylvia Nobel