Welcome to Karen WitemeyerShe is a deacon's wife who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul. Her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, recently claimed honorable mention in the 2010 Best Western Romance contest. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.
What is your favorite season of the year? Why?I love spring. The magenta blossoms on the redbud trees, the bluebonnets along the roadways, temperatures that seduce this indoor gal outside—spring is a reminder to me of how beautiful life can be if you persevere through the hardship of winter.
What does the act of writing mean to you?I view writing as an act of stewardship. Like Jesus' parable of the talents, I believe that God planted a desire and a talent inside of me with the intention that I use it for his glory. That is what I strive to do. I nurture his gift, cultivate it, and do my best to produce works that will bring him pleasure and encourage his people.
Were you conscious when you were writing your books of other writers who have set books in the same milieu recently?I read historicals as well as write them, so I am somewhat aware of what other authors are doing. However, I'm more concerned with unique plot lines and characters than setting. All of my books to this point have been set somewhere in Texas. Since I live in Texas, this setting is easy for me to research as well as being dear to my heart. Thankfully, it's also rather popular with readers. Because of that popularity, though, many authors choose to set their stories within this great state. But, hey, Texas is a big place. I'm sure there's room for all of us.
Do you outline your books or let the story go where it wishes?I do a little of both. I am a detail-oriented person, so I need to have a clear direction in mind before I set out to write a story. This usually means several weeks of research and brainstorming as I plot. I need to know the inciting incident, the climactic conflict at the end, and a handful of pivotal events along the way. I write out a detailed synopsis that can be anywhere from 5-10 pages, containing not only the main plot points, but key aspects of characterization for my hero and heroine. I do not make extensive outlines, however, or plan out individual chapters. Once I have that general synopsis in place, I type Chapter One and let the story evolve from there.
What gave you the inspiration for this story?Have you ever wished there was an epilogue to Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son? I have. When I decided to write To Win Her Heart, one question prompted the plot development: What happens after the father welcomes the prodigal son home? So often we focus on the wonderful homecoming the lost son received, but have you ever asked what life was like for him after the celebration was over? How did he relate to his bitter older brother or the servants and townspeople who were only too aware of his past arrogance and wild living? My story plays on those very questions.
How did you choose your characters’ names?Choosing my character's names is one of my favorite parts of starting a new novel. I love using biblical names, both from characters and places in the Bible. Like Hannah and Jericho in A Tailor-Made Bride. I have a similar situation in To Win Her Heart. I wanted a strong, masculine name for the burly blacksmith who was built like a mountain. I also needed a name with deep spiritual connotations to represent his return to faithfulness after wandering away. I decided on Levi for its strong sound and the fact that it represented the Israelite tribe who took on priestly duties. For my heroine, I chose the name Eden. Not because she was perfect, but because she had a tendency to expect perfection. Also, she had a passion for flowers, especially the wildflowers that bloomed in the spring and summer near her home. One field in particular bloomed with such radiance, that she came to think of it as her own personal Garden of Eden.
How do you choose your settings for each book?As I mentioned earlier, I tend to set my stories in Texas. Sometimes I use a fictional town, and sometimes I use areas surrounding actual places. In To Win Her Heart, I created a fictional town loosely based on the history of the real town of Marquez in Leon County, TX. Marquez sprouted up in 1871 along the International-Great Northern railroad line and was named in honor of María de la Marquez who owned the land grant on which the town was platted. In similar style, my fictional town of Spencer was named for the town founder, Calvin Spencer, whose daughter decided to make her home there after a scandal drove her away from the family's primary residence in Austin.
I chose this location because it was relatively close to Huntsville, where the state prison resided. There was also evidence of limestone quarries in the region, and I knew I needed a quarry for one of the pivotal scenes in the book. All in all, it was the right size town, in the right place, at the right time.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?The underlying theme of this book is one of forgiveness and of learning to view others through God's lens instead of our own. Just as Jesus encouraged the Pharisees to only cast a stone if they were without sin, we must learn to set aside our self-righteous pride in favor of mercy and forgiveness. It is human nature to keep records of wrongs and to view others through our own hurts and prejudices. And while our God is certainly concerned with justice, when one of his children repents, his mercy and forgiveness know no bounds. We must learn to exhibit the same grace to our brothers and sisters in Christ, extending them the mercy we ourselves would wish to receive. After all, love keeps no record of wrongs.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8)
Give us the backcover of To Win Her Heart.A blacksmith with a criminal past. A librarian with pacifist ideals. Do they have a fighting chance at finding love?
Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets. . . .
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.
Levi’s renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?
What’s next after To Win Her Heart?I'm currently working on my fourth historical romance for Bethany House. The working title is Short-Straw Bride. Four brothers draw straws to see who will marry the heroine in this twist on a marriage of convenience story. All Travis Archer has ever cared about is his brothers and his land. But when a good deed goes awry, he’s stuck with a bride who endangers both.
One fun tidbit about the brothers in this story – they are all named for heroes from the Alamo. Travis is the main character, the next oldest is Crockett, the kid brother is Neill (for the Alamo's commander who missed being at the fight because of a family illness that called him away), and the third brother's given name is Bowie, but he refuses to answer to anything except Jim. I don't blame him. Poor guy. What we authors do to torture our characters.
Where to find you on the Web.I'd love to have you visit me at my website: www.karenwitemeyer.com. I host a monthly giveaway of historical Christian novels from a variety of well-known authors as well as post interesting tidbits about my characters and the research behind their stories.
You can also find me on Facebook. Send me a message sometime. I'd be honored to chat with you.
Karen, thank you for stopping by and sharing with us. To have the possibility to receive a copy of To Win Her Heart:
- Leave a comment with your email (name at domain name dot com).
- To make it a little more fun, go to Karen's blog or web site and find out something of interest that is different from all other comments about Karen or one of her characters.
- Giveaway closes Sunday, May 15, 2011 at midnight (CST). Only US postal codes.
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Karen's three novels are:
A Tailer Made Bride
Head In The Clouds
To Win Her Heart