Christy Award finalist and winner of the ACFW Carol Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, 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 residing in Abilene with her husband and three children.
Her works include: A Tailor-Made Bride, To Win Her Heart, Head in the Clouds, Short-Straw Bride, More Than Meets the Eye and others. More Than Meets the Eye is her tenth full-length novel. Her sixth novella releases next month in the collection The Christmas Heirloom.
When did you first discover you had a love for writing?
Growing up, I was a serious bookworm. I’d bring home stacks of books from the library every couple weeks and devour them. I’ve always loved getting lost in stories, but I never thought I would actually write them myself. I would daydream stories in my head, but I never wrote any of them down. As I went through school, teachers and college professors encouraged my writing and gave me strong marks, but writing academic work is vastly different from the craft of fiction. It wasn’t until I was a stay-at-home mom with three kids and learned that my husband’s job had been eliminated that I actually got serious about writing. I naively thought I could stay at home and write to supplement the family income, not realizing that it would take me six years to land my first book contract. In the meantime, my husband and I both found employment at ACU, but the writing bug had bitten and bitten hard. I continued pursuing it until it became a second career.
Do you find being a Christian author difficult?
No. Being a Christian is who I am, and my faith reflects naturally in my stories. It helps that I write for the Inspirational market. The majority of my readers are Christians themselves and share my values.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Be patient. Publishing is a slow business. Not only do you have to put in the time to learn the craft and the industry, but it takes nearly a year for a book to hit the shelves after you turn in the finished manuscript. Self-publishing has sped up that process for indie writers, but for those of us who are published with a traditional publishing house, the cogs move slowly. And often this is a good thing. Time allows me to make revisions with fresh eyes and even though I often have to juggle multiple projects at once, it makes my stories stronger in the end.
Is there anything especially different between this novel and your past works?
More Than Meets the Eye is set in a similar time period and place as my other books (Texas in the late 1800s), but the family at the center of the story is very unique. They are bound by shared hardship instead of blood. When their orphan train derails, three misfit youngsters who had been overlooked for adoption come together to form a patchwork family of their own. They take care of each other, each using their own strengths to overcome the others’ weaknesses.
Out of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
That’s like asking a mother to name her favorite kid–it can’t be done! I’ll tell you which of my books tends to be my readers’ favorite though – Short-Straw Bride. That was my break-out novel and the first in the Archer Brothers series.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I do read my reviews, at least for the first couple weeks after a new book releases. Reader taste is so subjective, that I do my best to look at them objectively, learning what I can from both positive and negative comments. Good reviews encourage me to keep writing and bad reviews spur me on to keep improving.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. Writing is hard work, especially when the words aren’t flowing in the middle of a project. Sometimes you just have to sit in the chair and pray for ideas to come. I pray over my writing every day, and I know that without the help of the ultimate Creator, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. On the other side, when I reach a writing goal for the week or turn in a completed manuscript before my contracted deadline – that energizes me and leads my prayers into offers of thanksgiving.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, I never did. There is something wonderful about seeing my name–my real name–on a book cover. If I ever decide to dabble in a different genre, I might take on a pen name to separate those books from my current brand, but I don’t have any immediate plans to try that.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I don’t know that this is an under-appreciated novel except by my kids who were forced to read it in school, but my favorite classic of all time is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Poor Jane suffers so much over the course of that book, but she stays true to her faith and finds true love in the end. Even as a high school student, this made my romance-loving soul rejoice.
What do you think is the most important advice for aspiring writers?
Develop a thick skin. Writing is not for wimps. We face rejection at every stage of the game. When you are unpublished, you have to persevere through rejections of your proposals. When you are contracted, you face rejection when editors don’t like your ideas or send you the dreaded editorial letter containing all the changes they’d like to see you make to your manuscript. After your book comes out, you face rejection in the form of negative reviews or a dip in sales or being overlooked for a contest win. Perseverance is key. Keep fighting for your dream.