Interview of Karen Witemeyer

» Posted on Nov 19, 2010 in Blog | 6 comments

Head in the Clouds Full Image
This week I’m hosting Terri Reed and Stephanie Newton with Holiday Havoc, Donna Crow with A Very Private Grave, and Karen Witemeyer with Head in the Clouds. If you want to enter the drawings, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com. The drawings end Sunday (November 21st) evening.

Interview of Karen Witemeyer:

1.What made you start writing?

Like most writers, I started as an avid reader. Then I started daydreaming about my own characters and the adventures they would encounter. I even went so far as to start a journal where I jotted these ideas down, thinking that someday I might try my hand at writing. But someday was always a hazy date in the distant future. First, college kept me busy. Then kids entered the picture. However, in 2003 when my husband learned his job was being cut, the urge to turn someday into this day became too strong to ignore. The busyness didn’t disappear, of course. I started working full-time outside the home, and the kids were still young and in need of my attention. However, the Lord had sent me a wake-up call, and I knew I had to answer.

2.How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I have been writing since that day in 2003, although I didn’t jump straight into novels. I started with short pieces that were published in anthologies, and I had a couple of children’s Bible stories published in a Focus on the Family magazine. I wrote some short stories based on women of the Bible and gradually worked my way up to novels. My first full-length manuscript was rejected, but the editors at Bethany House who considered it liked it enough to ask for more. In January 2009, I signed a 3 book contract with them, and my debut book, A Tailor-Made Bride, released in June 2010.

3.How do you handle rejections?

Nobody likes rejections. They hurt. They feel personal even when you tell yourself they’re not. The way I try to deal with rejections is first see if there is anything I can learn from them and then let them go without dwelling on the disappointment. Now, granted, there’s not much you can learn from a form rejection. However, as I experienced with Bethany House, there is much you can learn from rejections that are accompanied by editorial feedback.

After Bethany requested my first full manuscript, I was sure my time had come. When they told me they were going to pass, it was devastating. But only for a second. Because following that bad news was a bit of hope. They liked one element of my story – the dress shop. Could I create a new story centered around a dress shop? Now you have to understand that in the original story, the dress shop burned to the ground in the prologue. It wasn’t exactly a central figure. To do what they asked would require an entire new plot, new characters, even a new setting. Could I do this? Wouldn’t it be easier to just keep shopping the original manuscript? But Bethany was my dream publisher, and they had just opened the door a crack. It was up to me to push the door open enough to get a foot in. So I did. I went back to the drawing board, brainstormed a new story, tweaked it with their feedback, then wrote the book that became A Tailor-Made Bride.

4.Why do you write?

I write because God placed the dream in my heart and it is my way of giving back to him. I write to minister to women of God, giving them entertaining stories that make them smile and nuggets of truth that hopefully nurture their faith.

5.What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Sleeping! LOL I have yard work that has been neglected all year. I would love to finally get some flowers planted in the side yard that has only grown weeds this past year. I also enjoy cross-stitching. I have a Noah’s ark scene that I have been working sporadically on for over a year. I’d love to have more time to devote to it. My goal is to have it finished by Christmas so I can finally give it to my boys. And of course I’d have more time to read, volunteer with my ladies group at church, and spend more time with my husband and kids without having to shush them.

6. What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on the rewrites for my next novel called To Win Her Heart which is supposed to release early summer, 2011. It is set in Texas in the late 1880s and 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 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 for 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 the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back her affections?

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

Oh yes. Different variations of my personality traits show up in all of my characters, especially the females. Hannah in A Tailor-Made Bride is very task-oriented and hates to leave a project unfinished. That’s me. She battles with pride and stubbornness. Unfortunately, that’s also me. Adelaide in Head in the Clouds is a hopeless romantic who loves to get lost in a story. That’s me. She also sometimes grows impatient when God seems to be silent. Me again.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.

In Head in the Clouds I thought it would be fun to blend my two favorite historical romance sub-genres (Regency and Western), so I grabbed me an English nobleman and plopped him down in Texas.

Here’s the official blurb:
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.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America’s wool industry, he never expected 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?
9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

To those who are still working toward publication, I would say:

Be committed to mastering the craft, tenacious in submitting your work, flexible enough to move when the industry moves, and grounded enough in who you are as a person and as a child of God not to lose heart when rejection comes. Accept the lessons of humility you learn now, for you will need them later when you find success.

To published authors I would say:

Be a team player. Accept feedback with a teachable spirit and never believe that you have arrived. Always strive to improve. Never forget that you are only where you are because of God’s grace and the talents and opportunities he has bestowed. Be a good steward, but remember that the glory is his.

To remind myself of this, I keep a short, little verse posted on my desk where I write – Psalm 115:1 “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

10. How important is faith in your books?

Faith is an essential component to my novels. My books have fairly overt spiritual threads, so removing them would unravel the story.

11. What themes do you like to write about?

I like to create characters who are believers, but who struggle with different aspects of their faith. In A Tailor-Made Bride the two main characters wrestled with the idea of beauty vs. vanity. However, we also tackled issues of pride and forgiveness. In Head in the Clouds, we look at characters who must learn to trust God when their lives spiral out of their personal control. They must wait on the Lord and trust him with their dreams. Most of my readers are already Christians, and I want my spiritual themes to challenge them to grow in their faith, or perhaps just to give them a reminder of things they already know to be true.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

That’s like asking a mother to choose a favorite child. It can’t be done. LOL I really like the feisty banter between Jericho and Hannah in A Tailor-Made Bride, but the charm and fairy-tale-come-true aspect of Gideon and Adelaide’s story in Head in the Clouds makes me sigh.

13. What is your writing schedule like?

Instead of setting daily word count goals, I give myself weekly chapter goals. I write one polished chapter a week. Since I’m one of those weird birds who edits as I write, this pace works well for me. I work full-time and have three kids, so I need the flexibility of the weekly goal instead of a daily one. My books tend to be around 40 chapters in length, so this pace allows me to put out a book a year while still having time for edits and marketing and maybe even Christmas.

6 Comments

  1. Sounds like a well paced and reasonable writing schedule. However, it is still extremely impressive that you find time to read, write, edit, work and be mom to three kids while producing a book a year. My hat's off to you!

  2. Am amazed at Karen W being able to do so much, but she uses her time wisely. You bless my heart and wish I was that put together. I am 71, work fulltime, come home and after dinner, relax in my recliner, although I do read as my hubby watches TV. Was more active when I was younger, but wow, not like Karen and other authors I have been reading about. You are using your talents and being blessed with more. God Bless you mightily. Juanita W
    whisper97304@yahoo.com

  3. Enjoyed the interview! I am impressed by all the writing you get accomplished Karen considering you work full time and you are a mom to three kids. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!
    cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. Really enjoyed the interview. Karen does get a lot done especially with working full time and raising a family as well and still finding time to do things besides write. Her books sound quite interesting and would love to read them.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

  5. Regency and Western… sweet!
    Pegg
    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

  6. Karen's first book was really good! i am looking forward to reading her second one! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

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