Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Tracie Peterson is Penny McGuire! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This week please welcome Karen Witemeyer in the spotlight! To win a copy of her new book Stealing the Preacher (Bethany House, 2013), leave a comment on this post.
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I’ve been married to my college sweetheart, Wes, for 20 years. We have three kids, ages 15, 13, and 11. They keep us very busy with soccer, tennis, band, math competitions, and church activities. I have a full-time day job as well, working as the Testing Coordinator for Abilene Christian University. It’s great for exercising my left brain—giving ACTs, CLEP exams, and other proctored tests—leaving my right brain free for the creative demands of writing.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest . . .
I write historical romance because it’s my very favorite genre to read. From my teenage years to current day, I’ve read historical romance almost exclusively. When I decided to write, there was no question in my mind what genre I would choose. If you can’t write what you love to read, what’s the point, right?
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I’d always been a bookworm, but for years I never even dared to dream about being a writer. It seemed so mysterious and far removed from normal life. After college, though, I began keeping a journal of story ideas inspired by daydreams. The dream had been born, but it was still abstract and out of reach. Then, when I was a stay-at-home mom with three kids under five, my husband learned his position was being eliminated. Suddenly I was faced with needing to find a way to contribute to the family income. Now was the time to take that dream off the shelf and try to make it real. Little did I know that it would be years before I saw any significant income from my efforts. Six months later, I took that Testing Coordinator job, but by then the writing bug had bitten hard. I continued pursuing the dream.
After you started writing seriously, how long was it before you were published?
I started writing with intent for publication in 2003. I published a few short pieces in magazines and Cup of Comfort collections along the way, but I signed my first full-length novel contract in 2009. My first book hit the shelves in 2010.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Writers’ conferences by far have made the biggest difference in my career. I started attending the ACFW conference in 2005 and started learning how the publishing industry works. In 2007, I met an editor from Bethany House while stuffing envelopes during pre-conference volunteering, later at the conference I sat at her table during lunch and pitched my story along with the other 9 authors at the table. That pitch led to permission to send a proposal which led to a request for the full manuscript which led to a . . . rejection. But that rejection came with an invitation to send something else and a request to meet again at the 2008 conference. I met with two Bethany editors that next year, they started talking about a contract, so when I met with an agent later at that same conference, she ended up offering me representation. By January 2009 I had an agent and a 3-book contract all because of the opportunities available at this conference.
ACFW has earned my loyalty and my gratitude. I’ve never missed a conference since I began attending in 2005. And since I first met my editor while volunteering, I have done some kind of volunteer work every year as well. This year, I’ll be on faculty for the first time and will be teaching a workshop on Author Voice. It’s my turn to give back and teach/encourage young writers who are following their dreams.
What are your biggest distractions?
My kids! I’m not willing to give them up, though, so I guess that means I’ll just have to continue praying for patience and for creativity that can endure through interruptions.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
Abducted from a train by a gang of aging outlaws, Crockett Archer must choose between either escaping to follow his own dreams or staying to help the daughter of his captor fulfill hers.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
My current release, Stealing the Preacher, focuses on Crockett Archer, one of the famous Archer brothers readers might have met in Short-Straw Bride. Crockett’s story stands completely on its own, but there are a few cameo appearances by other Archers, especially the youngest of the clan, Neill. After growing so attached to the Archers, I wasn’t about to let Neill go without giving him his own happy ending, so I came up with a novella project that will feature Neill. Neill’s story, A Cowboy Unmatched, will appear in the anthology A Match Made in Texas which is scheduled to release in January 2014. The other contributing authors are Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Carol Cox, so you can tell this one is going to be a lot of fun!
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
The easiest place to find information about my books is on my website at:
I also love to interact with readers through Facebook and the two group blogs I contribute to. My author page on Facebook is:
If you like my page, you can gain access to the first three chapters of Stealing the Preacher for free.
I blog with a group of western romance authors on a site called Petticoats & Pistols. This group features both Christian and general market authors.
The second group I blog with is called Writes of Passage. This group is made up of bestselling inspirational historical fiction authors. Some names you might recognize are Tracy Peterson, Tamera Alexander, Julie Klassen, and Lynn Austin. We have so much fun together and love to interact with readers.