Sunday, December 11, 2011

Karen Witemeyer: CBA Bestselling Author

To Win Her Heart
by Karen Witemeyer

Romancing The West welcomes CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer! She writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. In 2011, her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, was a finalist in the Best First Book categories for both the prestigious RITA® award and the National Reader's Choice Award.

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.

RTW: Karen, tell us about your book, please.

KW: Levi Grant is looking for a clean start in Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith 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 to devote her time to the lending library. When the new blacksmith asks to borrow a book, his halting speech leaves her doubting his intelligence. Yet as his true nature is revealed, Eden discovers hidden depths that tempt her heart.

Karen is giving away a copy of
To Win Her Heart (US residents only)
so be sure to leave a comment at the end of the post.

RTW: What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into To Win Her Heart?

KW: I love the pioneering spirit that was so prevalent in the Old West. People were willing to work hard to achieve their goals, yet at the same time, they would go out of their way to offer hospitality to a stranger or lend assistance to a neighbor.

I did work some of this into my story. Levi has much at stake as he tries to get a new business off the ground, yet he risks it all to help a friend. And Eden opens her home to a stranger and in the process opens up herself to a slew of criticism

RTW: If you lived in 1887 what modern convenience would you miss the most?

Karen Witemeyer, author

KW: Definitely the washing machine. Can you imagine bending over a boiling cauldron all day, washing and rinsing clothes only to put them through a wringer that puts as many wrinkles in as it takes water out? I think that's where the term "backbreaking work" originated. I already complain about laundry and all I do is toss some clothes around and hit a few buttons. I think I might have to go home tonight and kiss my lovely GE washer and dryer just to let them know how much I truly appreciate them.

RTW: Are there any common errors in western historical romances that bug you?

KW: I believe most historical writers do their best to research their story elements. I am by no means a historian, and I tend to get caught up in the plots of the books I read, so it's very probable that any mistakes would pass me by without my even knowing they existed. However, if I ran across an error that pertained to something I'd personally researched, that would catch my notice.

RTW: Why is Levi perfect for Eden?

KW: I believe that in the ideal relationship, not only will there be physical attraction, but there will also be compatibility in spiritual, emotional, and intellectual matters. Levi and Eden share this special bond, although it takes a while for them to uncover and develop each layer. They share a passion for literature; their struggles form an emotional bond between them; and they both strive to be people of God. Best of all, Levi challenges Eden to become a bigger person. He forces her to look outside her safe, restrictive world to a place where she can truly make a difference and finally find the love she's always craved.

RTW: Great characters!  And now it's time for your excerpt.  Would you set it up for us, please?

KW: In this scene, Eden has met Levi for the first time and is mentally summing him up.

Eden fiddled with the bonnet strings that draped over the arm of her chair and into her lap. Even though she and Mr. Grant were not alone in the room, it suddenly felt as though they were. She glanced in his direction, and her gaze collided with his. They both smiled then quickly looked elsewhere. Well, Mr. Grant looked elsewhere. Eden couldn't seem to find another object in the room on which to rest her gaze. But it wasn't as if she wanted to look at him. The man was as big as a mountain. Where else was she supposed to look?

He certainly possessed an abundance of brawn. Eden's attention flittered over his arms as he leaned forward and balanced his forearms on his knees. The fabric of his sleeves seemed too meager to contain the muscles within as it stretched thin over his biceps. The heavy aspects of ironwork would be no hardship for this man. It was unfortunate that his intellect hadn't developed to the same extent as his physique. Then again, he wasn't interviewing for a position as schoolmaster, so what did it matter? Except that it did matter—to her—a bit more than it should.

A vague feeling of disappointment had circulated through her when she first heard him speak. Why his halting verbiage should bother her, she had no idea. It wasn't as if she had any personal attachment to the man.

Eden sat up straighter in her chair, uncrossing her ankles then crossing them again in the opposite direction. She forced her eyes away from the blacksmith, glancing behind him to where Mr. Draper stood hunched over the desk, penning an addendum into the lease contract. Unfortunately, Mr. Grant chose that moment to straighten his own posture, the top of his head moving to block a good portion of the banker's back and half of the preacher's arm from her view. Eden bit the inside of her lip.

For heaven's sake. She was tempted to think he had somehow discerned her intention to ignore him and taken action to prevent it. But, no. The man was just restless. He lifted a hand and scratched a spot behind his ear as he turned his face toward the window. When he finished, a small tuft of hair stuck out, somehow making the gargantuan man seem almost boyish. Eden's lips curved slightly before she pressed them back down into an indifferent line. His thick, dark brown hair was cropped into short waves. She wouldn't call them curls; that descriptor sounded much too feminine for a man as rugged as Mr. Grant. However, the strands looked as though they would easily wind around a person's finger … should a … uh … person's finger have cause to be in his hair.

The smith glanced back at that moment, and Eden dropped her gaze to her lap. Where her right index finger had apparently wound itself up in her bonnet ribbon while she'd been contemplating the man's hair. She immediately extricated the iniquitous digit and gave it a firm glare.

Amazon buy links: Kindle, Paperback, Large-Print, Audio

RTW: Ha!  I love the "iniquitous digit"!  What are you cooking up for us next?

KW: My next release, Short-Straw Bride, is coming in June 2012, and I can't wait to introduce everyone to the Archer brothers.

All Travis Archer cares 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.

RTW: Your new series sounds like a must-read! Anything else you’d like to add?

KW: Thanks so much for having me here today. It's been such a pleasure.

So a question for you: What is it about Western romances that keeps you coming back for more? The rugged cowboy heroes? The feisty heroines? The frontier setting?

Share your thoughts with me, and remember that everyone who leaves a comment will be entered in the drawing for a free copy of To Win Her Heart. (US residents only, please.) Be sure to leave your email address with your comment or another name will be drawn!

I can't wait to hear your responses!

Karen will be back this week, talking about how real history inspired her story.  
You won't wanna miss it! :) 
Comments on either of her articles will enter you in her contest, so don't be shy!


  1. It certainly is the rugged cowboy heroes. I was raised on a farm and I like the "open" settings of western romances.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  2. Hi, Tracey. My heart always races a bit with those rugged cowboy heroes, too. Gotta love that hardworking spirit and honorable code. Thanks for stopping by today.

  3. I love Karen's books! I have not had the opportunity to read "To Win Her Heart". Short on cash and the library doesn't have it. :( Would love to win this and add it to my personal library!

  4. I enjoy reading Western Cowboy romances. Something about a hard days work, horses, the outdoors and the proper dresses :-) Congrats on the release Karen. I look forward to reading this book.
    your1chef at aol dot com

  5. Loved the interview Jacquie and Karen! I think what draws me to Westerns is the rugged individuality and yet community spirit the characters all seem to have. They are determined to make it in harsh and unfriendly environments on their own but yet when someone needs help, they pitch right in. I also love the majestic beauty of the American West, the countryside just calls to me, as do the horses and cowboys but I have to agree with Karen, if I had to go back in time I would take at least my washer and refrigerator with me:)
    Thanks for the giveaway


  6. Hi, Lynne. Thanks for your kind words. You are definitely entered in the contest!

    Christine - Thanks for stopping by today. I love those dresses, too. There is just something romantic about wearing a long skirt and swept-up hair. If I had to do it every day, I might change my tune, but it makes for a nice romantic fantasy. :-)

  7. Hi, Maria. I love the western landscape, too. Although I must admit that as far as scenary goes, I prefer the mountains of Colorado to the plains of Texas, but you can't beat the sunsets in a big, Texas sky. And after all, we all want to ride off into that sunset with out handsome cowboy hero, right? :-)

  8. I loved reading the interview and I own all your books and lend them out to all my friends. I can't wait until your new book comes out this summer! :)

  9. Thanks, Carenda! What an endorsement. I sure appreciate you spreading the word. Have a great week!

  10. What a great interview. An avid cross-stitcher? Great to know:) I too love to cross stitch although I don't get to practice this fun hobby as often as I would like. I love all the books Karen writes. Each one is different and exciting. I can't say why I enjoy books with a western romance theme but I love them! I do have a small collection going that I didn't realize until now. I'm so excited to read the next book by Karen. It will be a great summer read. To Win Her Heart was the hardest book for me to get through. It was so heart wrenching and made you want to jump onto the pages and help Levi and Eden. Show them what you could see. One scene in the book I think I read with my hands over my face peaking through my fingers. Something I would do in a tense movie. It's a wonderful book. It's hard to shut down the stories when the books are finished. You want them to go on and on and on.

  11. I love your books! :) You are one of my favorite authors!

  12. Hi, Tina. Thanks for coming by today. Your glowing recommendation is making me blush. :-)

    Yes, I love cross-stitiching. It is certainly challenging to find the time for it, but I recently (as in Saturday) finished a pattern called Celtic Christmas that I started last year at this time. It's out getting framed and won't be done until Christmas Eve, but I'll have it up and hanging for at least some of the holiday.

    Finishing a long cross-stitch project fills me with the same since of satisfaction as finishing a book manuscript. And seeing it framed is much like the delight I get at seeing a book cover for the first time. All that hard work finally coming to fruition. It's a great feeling.

    Hope you have a splendid holiday!

  13. Hi, Piano lover! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a kind comment. You are definitely entered in the drawing.

    I'm a piano lover too, though I don't play more than picking out a few notes here and there. When I was a little girl, I always asked for three big things for Christmas: A swimming pool, a horse, and a piano. I guess Santa wasn't able to fit any of them in his bag. Oh well. I took piano lessons for 2 years in college, I write about horses, and I now have a small pool in my back yard. Things worked out pretty well in the end, I'd say.

  14. Oh pick me, pick me!!! :) I'm like the donkey on Shrek, jumping up and down, ha! :)

    srstormo at yahoo dot com

  15. I, too, love the pioneer spirit of faith throughout this genre! I love the rugged, yet gentle cowboys that exude chivalry and their strong, capable, ladies that were always prepared to be hospitable! I am enthralled by an era of simplicity and faith!

  16. Hi, Salena. Love your enthusiasm. :-) You're definitely in the drawing!

    Nanette - You are so right about the attraction of a simpler time. Right about now, I need all the simple I can get. Ha!

  17. The cover alone of "to Win Her Heart" is enough to make a girl want to wrap up in a cozy sheep's wool blanket in front on a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa and dream the day away with her new book! :-)

  18. Bobbe - You just described the perfect afternoon. Oh how I wish I could do just that. Maybe once that vacation time kicks in. Something to look forward to, for sure.

  19. Hi Jacquie and Karen -- a fun interview! And I am a huge fan of Karen's writing :-) One of the things I like about Western romances is the feeling that almost anything is possible -- a belief in the goodness in the future when a couple who are meant for each other stand side by side.

    Wishing Karen the best with Short Straw Bride!

  20. This book sounds fascinating. I think I love the frontier/pioneer aspects of the West right behind the landscape. Cowboys sure don't hurt, though. ;-)

  21. Karen, thanks so much for joining us this week! Sorry I haven't been by earlier--still getting over the punies and I slept all day. It was wonderful to open up your comments and see you and your friends partying into the night. :) And one lucky person will receive your book! Too cool. The article on convict labor is coming up Thursday so stay tuned!

  22. I love historical romance and would love to read your book Karen. Enjoyed your interview and thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us. I love author interviews.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  23. Hi, Nancy. Thanks for stopping by today. I right with you on the love conquers all thing. There is just something about standing up with the one you love that makes you believe you can face anything the world can through at you. Love it!

  24. Linda - I'm with you on those cowboys. Hard to beat those rugged, manly heroes. ;-)

    Jacquie - Thanks again for the gracious invite. You are a stellar hostess and I hope you're feeling much better soon.

    Miss Kallie - Thanks for stopping by. So glad you are a western romance fan. You are definitely in the drawing!

  25. Karen, you are one of my favorite western authors. I love westerns for all the reasons you mentioned in your blog...the hunky cowboys, the strong women, the beauty of the frontier setting, the simplicity of the times. How wonderful it would be to have long evenings to do nothing but read by candlelight :)

  26. I just finished reading To Win Her Heart so I don't need the book, but I wanted to let you know that I loved it!!!!! You are my favortie author. I can't wait til' Short Straw Bride Comes out. The cover looks amazing. The rustic feel, the fancy dresses, the scenery,and let's not forget the good-lookin' cowboys.


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