Thursday, October 07, 2010
Historical romance is my favorite genre to read, so it was only natural that I gravitate to that genre when I decided to write stories of my own. And I write for the Christian market because I long to honor God with my words. My characters reflect bits and pieces of my own strengths and struggles as I strive to live for the Lord. My prayer is that readers enjoy a fun romp through the late 1800's while at the same time nurturing their commitment to Christ.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
This is a surprisingly difficult question for me to answer. I am the type of person that looks for joy in every day and looks more to the future than the past. Besides, how could I possibly choose between the days each of my three children were born, or the day I married my college sweetheart?
How has being published changed your life?
I am much busier. Deadlines on one project, marketing another, brainstorming a plotline for a third. But there are many rewards as well. Hearing from my readers never fails to touch my heart. And the interaction with authors and publishing professionals who have become dear friends at conferences, workshops, or just via e-mail interchanges is always an encouragement. My life is richer for having become part of the publishing world.
What are you reading right now?
I mentioned earlier that I love historical romance. Well, my passion for this genre is so strong that it is nearly all I ever read. I enjoy stories from authors like Deeanne Gist, Tamera Alexander, Cathy Marie Hake, and many others. In fact, a dear friend of mine, Jody Hedlund, is debuting a new historical romance this month as well. Her novel is inspired by the life and love of John Bunyan. Look for The Preacher's Bride in a store near you.
I will be featuring Jody's book on this blog later this month. What is your current work in progress?
I am currently working on a story set in the late 1880s that asks the question – what happens after the prodigal son returns? So many times, we focus on the wonderful homecoming the lost son received from his father, 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?
In my current story, I play on those very questions. My hero is a man recently released from prison who has returned to his faith roots and rededicated his life to the Lord. The heroine is a woman who has been disappointed by men in the past and has little tolerance of those who don't meet her high standards. In an effort to make a clean start, Levi hides his past and Eden believes she has finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when his secret is revealed will both their futures be shattered?
What would be your dream vacation?
I adore the mountains. However, I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold, so for me, the ideal vacation would be to travel to Colorado in the spring or summer to hike the mountain trails in search of the perfect waterfall. Or maybe I'd visit a dude ranch in Wyoming and ride the range with real western cowboys. That would guarantee plenty of inspiration for future novels.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I have a fondness for the American West, Texas in particular. I grew up in California but came to Texas for college and never left. I love this rugged land with its stunning sunsets and adventurous spirit. So far, all of my novels have been set somewhere in Texas. I usually create fictional towns while basing them on the history of actual towns that existed in my time period. However, Head in the Clouds features an actual small Texas town—Menardville. The town has since dropped the "ville" and goes simply by the name Menard.
My favorite decade is the 1880s. The railroad was making its way across Texas by that time and towns were springing up. The Indian threat had passed, so new families were eager to move in and settle the previously untamed land. This was a time of great growth for Texas and is ripe for stories about the people who made this land home.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I am an avid cross-stitcher. It is hard to find time to stitch with a full-time job, a writing career, and busy family life, but I sneak it in whenever things slow down. I also love to sing. Church offers many wonderful opportunities, but I also sing off and on with our local community chorus. I love the rich harmonies of blended voices and feel closest to God when I'm singing his praises with other believers.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I'm learning that my most difficult obstacle is often different for each book. Sometimes it's finding plot details that feel fresh. Sometimes it's finding a way to incorporate humor in a story that leans more toward drama. Sometimes it's finding the right opening. On my current project, I had to completely scrap the first two chapters and start over in a new place before I was satisfied.
Whatever the obstacle, the best way for me to overcome is to pray about it and listen for the Lord's guidance. I have a tendency to fret until everything is just right, so it stretches my faith to leave things in the Lord's hands. But he hasn't disappointed me yet!
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Toughen your hide but not your heart. Writing is a challenging business. There is so much rejection and criticism involved in the process. You have to be able to deal with the hurt in a positive manner. Don't allow yourself to brood or grow bitter. Don't discount negative comments as worthless because the person obviously doesn't understand you or your book. Look deeper and try to learn from each criticism, but let go of the things that don't resonate with you as true.
On the other hand, don't grow so callous that you have no compassion for other writers or your future readers. Keep your heart tender to God's leading, full of love for those who encourage you, and full of grace for those who would tear you down. Sometimes you can make a greater impact for Jesus in the way you handle adversity than in the way you handle success.
Tell us about the featured book.
When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart’s not the only thing in danger.
Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a Central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.
Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America’s wool industry, never expecting to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn’t uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon—and intrigues him at the same time. But he can’t afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.
When Isabella’s uncle comes to claim the child—and her inheritance—Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man’s evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Cisco, TX – April, 1883
Adelaide Proctor stared at the man across from her, so many flutters dancing in her stomach she couldn't possibly eat a bite of the apple pie he'd just ordered for her. Tonight was the night. She could feel it. The secret smiles he'd sent her that morning over breakfast at the boarding house, his request to dine with her so they might discuss the future. The future! How could it be anything else? Henry Belcher was finally going to propose.
"Is the pie not to your liking, my dear?" Henry set his fork down and glanced up at her. Always solicitous, that was her Henry.
"I'm sure it's delicious," Adelaide said, looking down at her lap and fiddling with the hem of the white tablecloth. "It's just that you mentioned you wished to discuss something with me this evening, and I'm afraid my curiosity has stolen my appetite."
"Of course. How thoughtless of me." He pushed his plate of half-eaten pie to the side and reached across the table, holding his hand palm up. "I should not have kept you in suspense all through dinner."
With a hitch in her breath, Adelaide drew one arm from her lap and eased her fingers into his. His thumb rubbed the back of her hand. An intimate gesture that infused her with hope. And if it didn't stir her deeper emotions . . . well, what did that matter? Not all marriages were based on a grand passion. She and Henry shared something much more likely to last: common interests and mutual respect. If carefully cultivated, she had no doubt such attributes would bloom into love.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I would love to have readers visit my Web site at: http://karenwitemeyer.com/ . You can find fun information about the hobbies and interests of the characters featured in my books as well as contests and free giveaways like bookmarks and a download for a biblical fiction piece inspired by the life of Rahab.
You can also find me on Facebook. Come by and visit any time. I'd love to hear from you!
Thank you, Karen, for this interesting peek into your life and writing.
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