Two-time RITA® Finalist and CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters.
She is offering a giveaway so make sure to leave a comment with your email address below. We must have at least ten comments. Continental US only.
Karen holds a master’s degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers’ guild. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.
Karen, thank you for joining us today. Introduce yourself to everyone.
I grew up in a small California town in the central coast region called Lompoc. It’s famous for flower fields, Vandenberg AFB, and La Purisima mission. It’s about an hour’s drive north of Santa Barbara. I spent most of my childhood in a house my dad and grandfather built on 7 acres, but I would not consider myself a country girl because I was always inside reading. I have one brother who is two years younger.
I grew up in a Christian household, so faith developed rather organically in my life. I was baptized when I was 10, but my faith truly solidified when I was 16. My daddy contracted a rare virus and within 2 weeks, he was gone. It was through this devastating loss that I learn to cling to my Lord and let him heal my brokenness so that I could tend to the hurts of my family.
In 1989, I left home to attend college at Abilene Christian University, and it was there that I met and married my Texas hero. We celebrate 20 years of marriage this month and are thoroughly enjoying sharing our happily-ever-after with our three children.
That is so sad about your loss but awesome how you let God use it in your life. I’ve lost both of my parents, as well. Tell us three things about you that would surprise your readers.
I live next door to my in-laws. (This isn’t as bad as it sounds. In truth, it’s a HUGE blessing, especially when it comes to child care.)
Historical novels have always been my favorite reading material, but as a kid, history was my least favorite subject in school.
I once ate a live frog. Well . . . it was on accident and I didn’t actually swallow. He just jumped in, set me to shrieking, then jumped out. Quite traumatic for a 10 year old. I doubt I’ll ever be a fan of frog legs.
I am sure that was quite the trauma! When you weren’t eating frogs, were you reading as a child? What did you read?
My mother used to scold me for reading too much. I would hide in my room with my books even when my grandparents were visiting. Terribly antisocial of me. I read a wide variety of books. I loved series like Little House on the Prairie, Encyclopedia Brown, The Black Stallion, Anne of Green Gables, and Sweet Valley High. As I grew older, though, my tastes narrowed to historical titles like Jane Eyre, The Far Pavilions, and Exodus. Eventually I settled specifically on historical romance, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since.
How long did you write before you sold your first book?
2003 was the year I first picked up a pen with the intent to write for publication. And it really was a pen. My children were all still preschool age, and I didn’t have a laptop, so I wrote in a spiral notebook while I tried to keep an eye on my three little munchkins. Later that year, due to financial challenges, I ended up going back to work and turned the daytime child care over to my mother-in-law. I mourned the time with my kids, but I flourished under the scheduled life that gave me time to hone my writing craft. I started with shorter pieces and worked my way up to novel-length fiction. I signed my first contract in January 2009 with Bethany House for a 3-book deal. Thankfully, the kids are all in school now and busy with their own activities so when mom is facing a deadline, they know how to entertain themselves.
How many books do you have published?
Short-Straw Bride is my fourth published novel.
Tell us about your latest book.
Here’s the official blurb: No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.
Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can’t bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.
Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?
This sounds very interesting! What inspired you to write this particular book?
As this story developed in my mind, inspiration came from several sources, but the main catalyst came from the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The Archer clan has four brothers instead of seven, and the men don’t sing and dance while they do their chores. Nor are they all redheads. However, they do have names that fit a pattern. No, they aren’t named after alphabetical Bible characters. Instead, my four brothers were named for heroes from the Alamo. Travis, Crockett, Bowie (although he only answers to “Jim”), and Neill.
What are you working on right now?
My editor has always preferred that I write stand alone novels instead of series. However, after falling in love with the Archer brothers, she agreed to let me write a second Archer story. This one follows Crockett to a new setting and a new adventure.
On his way to interview for a preaching position, Crockett Archer is abducted from his train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man’s daughter as a birthday gift. Joanna Robbins needs a preacher to fulfill a promise made to her mother, but how will she ever convince Crockett to stay and secretly help her win the soul of the very man who kidnapped him?
The working title is Stealing the Parson. It should release late spring/early summer 2013.
Readers seem to love series. I am sure this will be a hit! What are you favorite themes to write about?
I like to create characters who are believers, but who struggle with different aspects of their faith.
In A Tailor-Made Bride the two main characters wrestled with the idea of beauty vs. vanity. However, we also tackled issues of pride and forgiveness. In Head in the Clouds, we looked at characters who must learn to trust God when their lives spiral out of their personal control. To Win Her Heart tackled the issue of prodigals returning and how we accept them or not.
In Short-Straw Bride we look at how God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to carry each other’s burdens, and to be people of hospitality and how that conflicts with our desire to protect ourselves in an increasingly dangerous world. How can we love our neighbors if we wall ourselves off from them? Travis has to learn to tear down his physical barriers as well as his emotional ones. He must surrender his control to God and trust others with burdens he’s never allowed anyone but himself carry. It is a grueling journey, but in the end, the rewards of love and fellowship far outweigh the hardship of the struggle.
These are all themes I struggle with myself, areas where I need to grow. Most of my readers are already Christians, and I want my spiritual themes to challenge them to grow in their faith, or perhaps just to give them a reminder of things they already know to be true.
What a wonderful asset you are to the writing community! Have you won any awards with your writing?
My debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, was a finalist in the best first book categories of both the prestigious RITA® award and the national Readers Choice Award in 2011. And I recently learned that my third novel, To Win Her Heart, has been named a 2012 RITA® finalist in the best inspirational romance category.
Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?
The best place to find me online is on my website: www.karenwitemeyer.com. Here you can learn about my books, read excerpts, register for my monthly giveaways, and sign up for my newsletter.
I’m also a regular blogger over at Petticoats & Pistols (http://petticoatsandpistols.com/) This is a western-themed blog with romance authors from both the inspirational and general markets.
You can also find me on Facebook and Goodreads. Send me a message sometime. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for sharing bits and pieces of your life with us today!
Read about Karen’s 20th anniversary trip!