Monday, June 18, 2012

Interview With Karen Witemeyer

I'm happy to tell you that Karen Witmeyer joins us today for an interview about her latest release, Short-Straw Bride (June 2012). You can get your very own copy on the shelves of your local bookstores--I know, because I've just spied it there!

So, pour a cool glass of ice tea, take your laptop to your favorite sweet spot and learn why you should be the first to support Karen--and your local bookstore--by ordering your copy! I'm sitting on my back patio listening to the birds, the fountain in our koi pond, and the cool breeze in the trees--while I sip on fresh lemon-iced tea. MMmmm--I wish I could share it with all of you!

Karen holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writer's guild. She is the author of A Tailor-Made Bride, which was honored as one of the Best Western Romances of 2010 by the Love Western Romances Web site, as well as landing nominations for a RITA Award and the National Readers' Choice Award. Short-Straw Bride is her fourth novel. She lives n Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.

So, Karen, tell us please:

1. Can you remember the exact moment the idea for Short-Straw Bride popped into your head? What inspired it?

The idea actually came to me one afternoon during my son's baseball practice. I deicded to get some exercise and walk around the neighborhood while he played. The idea hitting me mid-stride as I walked. I had been toying around with an idea inspired by the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but I hadn't quite figured out how to work out the marriage of convenience part. Then it hit me: Wouldn't it be fun if the brothers drew straws to see who married Meredith? But we couldn't let chance completely decide her fate. That wouldn't be very romantic. So then I brainstormed about how it might be possible to rig a straw draw. Over the course of that walk, I managed to concoct a workable scheme and even came up with the book's title which my publisher ended up keeping.

2. What was the most fun part about writing this book? toughest? (as a new writer, I always struggle with the middle) What is the toughest part of plot construction for you?

I think I had the most fun crafting the Archer brothers and developing their separate personalities. I loved the scenes where they were all on stage together and could tease and pick at each others the way brothers do.

The toughest part was probably the plotting stage. I like to have all the major plot points nailed down before I start writing, and since this book had a lot of action scenes, it was challenging to come up with new predicaments to put my characters through that I hadn't already used in previous books. Once I had all the major points figured out, though, it went relatively smoothly when it came time to write.

3. With everything you know now as an experienced writer, what is the one thing you would have loved to know before you were agented/pubbed?

I would have liked to know how busy my life was going to become. At any one time I could be marketing a new release, writing the next book, brainstorming/researching the future story ideas, working on catalog copy for the current WIP, writing blogs and answering interviews, not to mention working my full-time day job and raising three kids. Whew! It's exhausting. (This is a pretty accurate picture of what June has been like for me.) However the rewards are fabulous. Reading 5 star reviews on Amazon, interacting with readers, meeting other authors, attending conferences, and of course seeing that new book hit the stores. It's a crazy journey and incredibly busy, but if you work hard, organize your time, and pray A LOT, you can get it all done.
Then again, if I had known all this before I was published, I might not have been so eager to pursue publication. LOL

4. It's interesting that our Sunday School lesson yesterday was about land and Jubilee. I learned that the Israelites were not supposed to view their land as a thing to be owned for private gain, but it was to be an viewed as Yahweh's land, given as an inheritance for sustenance and salvation--a gift to be tended, instead of a possession to be guarded and protected for selfish profit. This fits very similarly with your hero, Travis' view of his land, that he needed to protect it at all cost. What inspired you to develop this theme about land, and protecting what's "ours" at all cost?

I wanted the Archer brothers to be reclusive, and to do that I needed to give them some serious backstory. Having lost his parents at a young age, Travis had to fight the outside world to keep his family together and to protect the birthright he and the boys had been given. In his eyes, keeping his family together was tied to holding the land. If they lost the land, they would lose each other. So it wasn't actually the land itself that he protected at all costs (this is shown later when he has to chose between Meredith and the land), but it is family he strives to protect at all cost. He has to learn to surrender control to God and trust him to protect his loved ones before he's willing to open up the land.

5. I loved the way you portrayed the "young love" between Meredith and Travis. Young love is often fraught with misunderstanding as the two learn to communicate. Perceptions of love and faith cannot be assumed. Neither participant can be a mind-reader, nor can one's faith substitute for the other's. Though I'm sure the young readers in your audience are wise enough to know no one can "change a man"--Meri must trust that God has her best interests at heart in her relationship with Travis and she must still step out in faith that God will bring about His plan. This balance is tough to get in real life and in experienced marriages, but you've portrayed this delicate balance between them well. If there is one thing you'd like young readers to learn about love, what would it be?

God must be at the center of all relationships, but especially in relationships between a husband and wife. One of the verses I asked to have read at our wedding was from Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
God is that third strand, the center strand around which the other two entwine. He will hold us together when life tries to tear us apart. Without him at the center, it is all to easy to unravel.

What a great reminder to give us all.

Thank you Karen! I hope I've lit your curiosity about how Travis and Meri overcome their obstacles to find a love that is deeper than the land and longer than the short straw that started it all! 

You can learn more about Karen at:
Now Available: Short-Straw Bride (June 2012, Bethany House)
Also look for: To Win Her Heart ~ 2012 RITA® Finalist for Best Inspirational Romance
Head in the Clouds  and A Tailor-Made Bride RITA® Finalist for Best First Book


  1. Interesting, how inspiration can come at such unlikely times and places. As I'm not a fiction writer, it's fun to hear how a novel gets plotted, planned, and pulled together.

    Great interview!

  2. Thanks Rhonda! I hope your speech finds such inspiration too!