It's my pleasure this week to introduce Karen Witemeyer. Karen's a two-time RITA Finalist and CBA bestselling author. She writes historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. Karen holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University. She is an avid cross-sticher, shower singer and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.
Fourteen years of vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't help bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to rescue her again.
Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact the Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short straw bride.
Of course what really makes Texas home are the three little buckaroos who always have a big hug for their mama at the end of a long day, and the warm-hearted man who has given me 20 years and counting of a story-worthy happily ever after. You sound like a true romantic. I love that.
Why did you become an author? I've always loved books. I started reading on my own at age 4 and never looked back. Story speaks to me and captivates my imagination like nothing else can. As a young adult, I would find myself daydreaming my own characters and plots. I harboured secret dreams of someday writing my own books. It wasn't until my husband learned he was losing his job that I got serious about writing. At first it was just a scheme to try and bring in extra income. It didn't take long to learn I wouldn't be able to make any money in writing right away, so I ended up working outside the home. But by this time the writing bug had bitten hard. It had become a calling I could no longer postpone. I had to pursue it. That was 2003. In January 2009 I signed my first three book deal with Bethany House, and in 2010 my first book hit the shelves. Short-Straw Bride is my fourth novel.
Why did you choose this period of history to set your story? Several things attracted me to 1880s Texas. First, since I live in Texas, I have the advantage of visiting areas I write about and having access to wonderful historical resources. Also, the time period is one that easily fits with my style. By the 1880s, the Civil War was far enough in the past that the country had recovered and was starting to boom thanks to the westward expansion of the railroad, and more settlers were coming west. I wanted to show a new part of the Texas landscape - the Piney Woods region. With the railroad coming, the need for lumber brought forth a bonanza era for Texas loggers. Short-Straw Bride takes place at the front end of this big lumber push, which plays a threatening role in the lives of my characters.
Have you been to Australia? I have never been to Australia, though I have always wanted to visit. I'd love to snuggle a koala, snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, hike parts of Waterfall Way in NSW and since I'm a huge tennis fan, I'd love to visit Melbourne during the Australian Open. Oh, you will love Melbourne. Let me know when you're coming and I'd love to be your host!
If you would like a peek at Short-Straw Bride, click here to read the opening chapters. You know you want to!! You can find Karen at www.karenwitemeyer.com as well as Petticoats and Pistols where she blogs.
Karen, thanks so much for visiting Ink Dots today! Thank you so much for your warm hospitality. I've so enjoyed being here. Now a question for you:
In Short-Straw Bride, Meredith continues in her father's footsteps and starts teaching part-time at the local school. Who was your favourite teacher, and what was it about that person that made such an impact on you?
One lucky commenter will win an e-book copy of Short-Straw Bride. Please indicate if you prefer Kindle or Nook. (If you are a US resident, you may opt for an autographed copy, should you be the winner.)
Thanks so much for your generous offer, Karen. I'm excited to hear more great publishing news from you in the days to come, and see who will be Friday's Ink Dots winner of Short Straw Bride.