Saturday, June 13, 2015

Author Interview with Karen Witemeyer

Heidi here. One of my favorite historical authors, Karen Witemeyer is with us today! Her latest novel, A Worthy Pursuit, released at the beginning of June.


Christy Award finalist and winner of both the ACFW Carol Award and HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. You can connect with her on Facebook, the Petticoats and Pistols blog, and a group inspirational blog.

Karen, thank you for stopping by today and congratulations on your new novel, A Worthy Pursuit. I found the romance between Charlotte and Stone simply spell binding. How in the world were you able to keep them apart for over 300 pages?

Well, I started them off as enemies, so that helped for a while. Then I gave poor Charlotte serious trust issues when it comes to men. Betrayed by her father, a past beau, an employer – she had a lot of baggage to work through. Thankfully, Stone was tenacious and not about to let her past stand between them forever. His patient, steady wooing of her makes for some delicious romantic tension.

Well, the plan worked. As I read this novel, the romantic tension was what got me flipping and flipping the pages! Where do your story and character ideas come from?

There is usually a single spark that gets a book idea started. For A Worthy Pursuit, that spark was the idea of incorporating gifted children—child prodigies, each having a gift in a different field. And the one who doesn't consider himself gifted ends up being the one who saves the day, proving he is, in fact, remarkable.

I also wanted to play with the idea of opposites attracting. So I chose a refined, educated headmistress who doesn't trust men and paired her with a man of action and intrigue who practically walks off the pages of a dime novel. I couldn't wait to throw them together and challenge their preconceived notions of each other.

Yes, I loved the child prodigies in this novel. And how you showed characterization with the grandfather who used his granddaughter's abilities for his monetary gain. But, back to your writing journey. Who/What spurs you to write?

Since I'm under contract, my deadlines and professional obligations are the biggest spur to my writing. But what keeps me going day after day are the messages I get from readers sharing with me how my stories impacted them. There is nothing better than learning that something I wrote made a difference in someone's life.

Amen! What advice can you give to aspiring novelists to produce a sound novel that’ll sell?

Learn the craft. Don't rush the process. Everyone is in a hurry these days to get their books into the market, but for a book to sell well, it can't be rushed or thrown together. Put in the time. Find critique partners and/or editors to help you polish your manuscript until it shines. I wrote for 6 years before I signed my first contract. Finally, develop characters that tug on your own heartstrings, because if they don't affect you, they won't affect readers, either.

Great advice, thank you! For the writers out there, can you share how you plot a novel? And the million dollar question, how close to the final version does the first draft read?

OK . . . brace yourself. I only write one draft. (Gasp!) I know, it sounds crazy. The trick is that I write incredibly slowly. I write one polished chapter a week. I send each chapter off to my critique partners as I go. Then I self-edit, work in the critique comments, and move on to the next chapter. When I get to the end of the manuscript, I turn it in. Now, there are always edits that come back from my publisher, so in truth I do write two drafts, but I don't write like most people do by getting all their story ideas down in a big burst of creativity and then going back to edit and layer. I edit as I go. I'm too much of a perfectionist to turn off my internal editor, so I work with him instead. I'm an odd duck.

I do write out a detailed synopsis with all the major plot points included before I start writing, and for the most part, I stick to my road map pretty carefully. I take occasional detours and change things from the original synopsis, but most of these are minor changes. All the major things stay in place.

A woman after my own heart. Write it right, once! No wonder you stay on track with your contracts. Now, how about a fun question . . . You are headed to a deserted Island and can bring only two items with you, what do you bring?

My husband. So I won't get lonely. (Does that count as an item?) And . . . hmm . . . I can't decide between a jumbo box of matches and a gross of toilet paper. (Can you tell I have a strong practical streak?) Think I better go with the matches.

Okay, I never thought about the toilet paper angle. You make good points with the matches and tp. I would have brought chocolate, shows practicality isn't my number one character trait! Karen, this has been fun! Please tell us about your future books.

My next project will be a novella that carries over two of the characters from A Worthy Pursuit, Dan and Marietta. I just couldn't leave those two alone without giving them their own happy ending. Plus, I had so much fun writing snippets of dime novels in Stone and Charlotte's story that I decided to start each chapter of the novella with a short scene from a Dead-Eye Dan dime novel. So you'll end up getting two stories for the price of one! The individual novella is title The Husband Maneuver but it will release as part of a larger collection titled On Bended Knee: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry. I believe it comes out in January.


We'll be looking for them! Thank you for your time today, and congratulations again on the success of A Worthy Pursuit. Leave a comment for a free copy of A Worthy Pursuit, thanks for the copy Karen. I'll announce the winner on Monday!

31 comments:

  1. I loved the fun interview and would love to read "A Worthy Pursuit" . The story line is engaging - Karen's books always have such beautiful covers and the reviews are always outstanding. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie! Hope you get a chance to read Stone and Charlotte's story. :-)

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    2. Great interview, from this we can definately decide if we want to read your story and I do...I do. I like reading your books and this feisty lady is one I want to read about. Thanks for sharing.
      kyflo130(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    3. would love to win. angelachesnut246@gmail.com

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    4. I just love Karen's books! Thank you for the giveaway!

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    5. Thanks for the insightful interview, Karen. I guess I would have to take my total opposite hubby and TP to that dessert island. Hubby would handle all the rest while I pondered and pointed. LOL
      Thanks for always giving us a happy ending.

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    6. I want to read this book so bad! I have heard it is so good!

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    7. Thanks, Rachel!

      MRW - Having a man around who can build stuff and kill giant bugs would be a definitely plus, wouldn't it? :-) I like you pondering and pointing method.

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    8. Great interview! Book sounds great!

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    9. Hi, Pol. Thanks for your enthusiasm! :-) It made me smile today.

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    10. Karen, I have so enjoyed reading all your other books. I cannot wait to read this one.
      It was interesting to learn how you actually write your novels.

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    11. Karen, your writing style sounds like how I would approach writing a novel. It sometimes takes me two days to send an email. I will write it one day and then let the draft sit and come back, re-read, make edits and then send it!! Could you imagine me writing a book. ugh. I'll stick to reading. haha :) tlhcoupon(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    12. Thanks for the great interview! I have read and loved all of Karen's books and look forward to this one. The novella sounds great too. 😃

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    13. I've read MOST of Karen's books and loved them all. This looks like another winner. Congrats to Karen!

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  2. I love the cover! But, Karen, how long does it take you to write your one draft?

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    1. My books tend to be from 35-40 chapters, so at one chapter a week you can see that it takes me about 9-10 months to write an entire novel. Almost a year. Now that I've added novellas to my writing schedule as well, I have very little non-writing time. Sometimes I double up for a week or two to get ahead (or catch up) if I'm going on vacation or something.

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  3. I've heard Karen write awesome books! I'd love to win this one! Thanks!
    Susan in NC
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. Susan,
      You are the winner, contact me via email so that I can get ur snail mail addy
      heidi at heidimain dot com

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  4. I am intrigued that each of the children are prodigies in some area--that would be an interesting group to teach:)

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  5. I am intrigued that each of the children is a prodigy in a different area--that would be an interesting group to teach.

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  6. I always enjoy the books I read by Karen. Even though they can carry some weighty truths, they always have an element of humor.
    josieringer(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Martha. I like to create fun adventures with lots of laughter and action, but I also want them to carry nuggets of truth. I'm glad they strike the right balance with you. :-)

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  7. I've heard so many good things about this book, I can't wait to read it!!

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  8. This sounds like a book I would like to read.

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  9. I didn't realize Ms. Witemeyer was so practical, I love that! Often, I've read authors who've answered that deserted island question but I don't think anyone mentioned toilet paper before! Anyway, I love her books! Short Straw Bride is my favorite :)
    garfsgirl AT hotmail DOT com

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  10. From enemies to lovers always makes for a great storyline! I've really been excited about this book since I've seen it come out and talked about on different blogs & various excerpts too! I love how you share the back story to this one. And Stone must have the patience of a saint (or be madly in love with Charlotte) to pursue her through all her "stuff" :-) What a sweet story that would have me furiously turning pages to find out what happens next....then I'd be sighing at the end, I'm sure! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of "A Worthy Pursuit"

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  11. A Worthy Pursuit sounds so intriguing! I love the concept of opposites attracting :)

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  12. I like the idea of gifted characters and the one who doesn't declare themselves gifted saving the day. Brilliant! And I appreciate knowing that one can edit as they go and meet deadlines. A Worthy Pursuit is on my wish list!

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  13. I'm not sure what I liked best in this post: the descriptions of the interplay between your two protagonists or the insights into how you write basically one draft. Both sound like A Worthy Pursuit to me!

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  14. Thank all of you for ur comments! Susanlulu (Susan from NC) has won the giveaway. Thanks again to Karen for her time with this interview and for supplying a copy of A Worthy Pursuit to give away. If you haven't tried Karen's books yet, today is the day!!!

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