Welcome all readers and writers to my blog. I encourage you to post your comments and hope that you enjoy the site.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Introducing Karen Witemeyer.....

I am excited to announce my Interview with Karen Witemeyer.
What an amazing author! She has three books available right now and another coming in 2012. Her stories are captivating and touching! I recommend them to everyone. I read Tailor-Made Bride first and absolutely loved it. Karen was kind enough to reply to my request for an interview so I read To Win Her Heart and Head in the Clouds so that I could review each of them for her. The reviews will follow her interview.
Karen has also graciously offered a copy of To Win Her Heart for a giveaway! Comment to the question at the end of this post and a winner will be selected to receive a free copy of Karen's newest book!

Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself?
I'm a deacon's wife and an incurable romantic who believes this world needs more happily-ever-afters. So, in order to help meet that need, I combine my fascination for bygone eras with my passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels full of love and laughter. I'm also an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bake a mean apple cobbler. I live in Abilene, TX with my hunky, computer nerd husband and three children who are kind enough to put up with Mom's imaginary friends.

Tell us a little bit about To Win Her Heart?
To Win Her Heart is a story about second chances and about learning to see one another through the eyes of grace instead of eyes clouded by prejudice and past hurts. Here's the official blurb:
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?

1.     When did you begin writing?
I first started writing with the intent to publish in 2003 while I was still a stay-at-home mom. I originally thought I could help supplement the family income with my stories but soon realized that it would take years before I could actually make any money at it. That same year, I went back to work full-time outside the home. The writing bug had bitten hard, though, and I decided to continue the pursuit even though there were more demands on my time.  
2.     What was your first published book and when did you publish it?
My debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, released in June 2010 and I proud to say that it went on to be named a finalist for both the RITA and the National Reader's Choice Award in the Best First Book categories.
3.     How many books do you have in print now?
I currently have three books in print: A Tailor-Made Bride (June 2010), Head in the Clouds (Oct 2010), and To Win Her Heart (May 2011).
4.     In To Win Her Heart, Eden Spencer and Levi Grant have reading books in common. They meet many times at the Library that Eden runs. Did you spend a lot of time in the library as a child? What was your favorite book/author?
The library was like a second home for me when I was growing up. I have vivid memories of checking out stacks of books at a time, taking them home, devouring them, and then coming back for more. I read everything from Little House on the Prairie to Encyclopedia Brown to The Black Stallion.

I also remember our school library. In third grade, I recall seeing a book on the shelf with such a crazy title that I just had to try it. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. I'm sure I had read books without any illustrations before, but this book gave me an epiphany. I could actually visualize everything that happened through my imagination. No pictures required. If the author could get me to visualize Whangdoodleland, anything was possible.
5.     In To Win Her Heart, Levi Grant has a speech problem. He avoids using words with an “s” sound to prevent people from making fun of him. How difficult was it to write all of his dialogue without using the “sss” sound? By the way, I’m really impressed that you accomplished that!
Oh my goodness. This was the trickiest thing I have ever done. Those S's sneak in everywhere. I couldn't use "Mr." because when it is said, there's an S sound. C's can sound like S's. And how can you talk about anything in plural? It was extremely limiting but a fun challenge at the same time. I did miss a few that my editors spotted, but what really scared me, was that I found 3 during the final galley review. Heart attack! I had missed them. The editors and copy editors had missed them. Only by the grace of God did I snag those last few before the book went to print. I don't think any got by us, but if someone spots one, please let me know.
6.     In To Win Her Heart, The characters are faced with the reality of their past and how difficult it is to overcome poor decisions. Explain the message that this delivers to the reader and why is that message so important?
This is the timeless message of redemption through Christ. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become a new creation. New. Clean. Without blemish. This is an incredibly difficult concept for our human minds to comprehend. We remember our blemishes all too well. And so do those around us. Yet God promises to remember them no more. We must learn to trust in this promise, to stop dwelling on past sins, and live our lives with a heavenward focus.
7.     In To Win Her Heart, Eden Spencer has to face the town’s scrutiny over her choice to take in someone who doesn’t fit their idea of a “model citizen.” How did this speak of Eden’s character that she was willing to take Chloe in, despite the ridicule she received from the townspeople?
This was a true time of spiritual growth for Eden. Up to this point, she had been very concerned about how others perceived her. She hated to be whispered about and strove to keep her reputation above reproach. And when Levi first presented her with the idea of taking Chloe in, she resisted. It would be easier to just buy the girl a train ticket. She'd still be acting with Christian charity while not having to sacrifice her position in the community. However, when challenged, she realized that laying a cheap gift on the altar isn't much of a sacrifice. God calls us to be living sacrifices, to look out not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others. By choosing to take Chloe in, Eden not only helped a young girl, she matured as a woman of faith by sacrificing something precious in order to do what was right.
8.     If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If money was no object, I would love to tour the castles of Germany. I love mountain settings, romance, and fairy tales. What could be more romantic than the castle that inspired the home of Disney's Sleeping Beauty situated in the Bavarian mountains? I get dreamy-eyed just looking at pictures of Neuschwanstein. I'd also like to see elegant Eltz Castle and historic Wartburg Castle. Wartburg is one of the oldest preserved castles as well as a place where church reformer Martin Luther lived and translated the Bible into German. How awesome would that be to see? My daughter would love touring the castles and my husband would dutifully ooh and aah, but I might have to bribe my boys with a ski trip or something to get them to tour the castles with me.
9.     What is one piece of advice that you can give to other writers?
RUE - Resist the urge to explain. I constantly remind myself of this one. So many times I want to make sure the reader understands my intent, and I'm tempted to explain the meaning of what just happened in the story. However, the rule of RUE has helped me edit out those unnecessary words. Trusting the reader to understand is a leap of faith. Yet we have smart, savvy readers. They don't need the message spoon fed to them. A few might miss my subtle imagery, but others will see it and appreciate it. A heavy hand just comes off as preachy. A joke explained is no longer funny. And dialog rehashed is boring. If I RUE as I write, I won't rue my wordiness later.
10.      What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Definitely the correspondence I've had with readers. Hearing that my stories touched someone makes all the hard work worthwhile. That is why I write, after all. To encourage women of faith in their walk with Christ. We all need an excuse to smile now and then, or a place to escape the havoc of our own reality. If I can provide a little joy or entertainment for someone, I am blessed. But every once in a while I get a message from a reader who mentions how a character really spoke to her during a difficult time in her life, or that the theme of one of my novels encouraged her to be a more godly woman. Those are the comments that stir my soul and send me to my knees in thankfulness that God could use such an ordinary vessel in such an extraordinary way.
11.     What is in the future for the characters in To Win Her Heart?
Unfortunately, there will not be a sequel. However, back in June I ran a fan fiction contest and invited readers to submit an epilogue for two of the secondary characters: Chloe and Duncan. Nancy Kimball won the contest, and I was very pleased with her ending. It is posted on the fan fiction page of my site. It's not a full sequel, but it is a fun little extra for those hungry to see more of the happily ever after.

Book Review of To Win Her Heart
I cannot say enough good things about this book!
Edens Spencer has had her heart broken, and thus swears off relationships. Her kind heart and love of books leads her to run a library out of her home. When Levi Grant strolls into town to be the new blacksmith her heart betrays her decision to remain alone. Problems in his past come back to haunt Levi as he tries to start his life over and he can't see how a woman like Eden could love him, especially if she knew about his past.
This story is one of hope, faith, love, and forgiveness as Levi tries TO WIN HER HEART!
What a great read!! I could not put this book down. It captivated and consumed me. I always know when a book is good because I make excuses to get to read it or I read it when I should be doing other things. I almost ruined a perfectly good batch of brownies because I was reading while cooking......you know this was a good one!!!

SO.... Readers, I pose this question to you for a chance to win a copy of To Win Her Heart.......
When I am reading a really good book I put off housework to get just a little more reading time in, or I will flat iron my hair and read at the same time..........
How do you know when you are reading a really good book? What are your tell-tale signs?

Post a response to this blog telling us the answer to this question and one winner will be selected!! I will announce the winner by October 15th!