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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spotlight on Karen Witemeyer and A Tailor-Made Bride

Don't forget the new rules of the spotlights here. There will always be an extra question inserted in each spotlight for YOU to answer in the comments in order to be entered in the drawing. So, be on the lookout!

I'll also be announcing the winners from the past month of their spotlight book wins by Friday. Stay tuned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


KAREN WITEMEYER is a deacon's wife who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

Karen holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. She's an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

A Tailor-Made Bride
by Karen Witemeyer
Published by Bethany House

ABOUT THE BOOK

When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind—shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have forseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

Readers, buy your copy of A Tailor-Made Bride today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. This is your debut novel. Congratulations! What gave you the inspiration for this story?

You know how they say necessity is the mother of invention? Well that holds true for me with this story. I originally submitted a different manuscript to Bethany House. They requested the full but ended up rejecting it because they felt the plot wasn't quite original enough to launch a new author. However, they liked the writing enough to ask me to submit something else. They particularly liked the idea of the dress shop that I had presented in the first manuscript. Could I come up with a new story that incorporated this dress shop?

Now you have to understand, in the original book, the dress shop burned to the ground in the prologue. It didn't even survive into chapter one. But publishing with Bethany House was my dream, so I started brainstorming.

It all started to come together with a question: What happens when believers disagree about what the Christian life should look like? I wanted to show that it is possible for two devoted Christians to have different interpretations of scripture, and have them both be right. Since I knew my heroine was going to be a seamstress (in keeping with the dress shop idea the publisher wanted), I chose the issue of beauty. After all, it's not always the big doctrinal issues that divide people. Personal experiences can make even seemingly simple topics volatile.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

My heroine's personality reflects aspects of my own. And not always the good ones! Hannah is independent, task-oriented, and likes to get the upper hand when dealing with Jericho. I am much the same. I love my husband, yet there is no one I enjoy defeating more when playing a game that requires skill and mental acuity. Those wins come rarely, but when they do, I feel like crowing in victory, much like Hannah felt when facing the challenge of making Jericho smile or beating him in a war of words. Also, when I wrote the scene where Hannah struggled to leave her shop with a customer's hem unfinished, I nearly laughed at how well that described me. I hate leaving a task undone. Having three kids has mellowed me out over the years and taught me to be more flexible, but I would still rather finish something than leave it for later.

Hannah, however, has a compassionate heart that I can only hope to emulate. She has the gift of seeing beneath a person's surface and has the heart to reach out to those most of us would ignore. She demonstrates this character trait with a man named Ezra who is so steeped in grief that his personal hygine has made him a pariah in town. I wish I was more like her in that regard.

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

My hero, Jericho, is a vanilla man. Classic, yummy, a man's man who likes to keep things simple. No frills, no fuss, just a tasty goodness that seems to get better the longer you savor it.

Hannah, on the other hand, is rainbow sherbet. Vibrant and full of life, she sees the word through eyes that drink in color and beauty. Depending on what bite you sample, she might be tart or sweet, but somehow when you take all of her together, she brings a flavor to the palate that makes everything brighter.

The fun comes when Hannah tries to throw rainbow sprinkles on Jericho's vanilla. Will he continue to grumble and pick them out, or will he finally open his mind to the possibility of trying something new?

4. Are there any themes in A Tailor-Made Bride that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Being right is less important than living right. In John 17, Jesus prayed that his followers would all be one, so that the world might believe that he was indeed sent by the Father. Many times, we as Christians are quick to condemn other believers because they do not adhere to a doctrine identical to our own. However, if we wish to foster the spirit of unity that Christ desires, we must be less concerned with proving our arguments and more focused on loving our neighbor and extending grace in times of disagreement. Only then will we be a light to the world.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Even though I relate most to my heroine, what I enjoyed most was creating the perfect hero for her. Jericho is a hard-headed guy full of preconceived notions and arrogance that comes from thinking he has everything figured out. However, beneath this tough exterior is a tender heart that longs to honor his God, his family, and his community. No one works harder, gives more, or protects more fiercely than Jericho Tucker. His words might rile, but his actions speak with a deep eloquence that reflects the compassionate nature hidden in his soul. He is truly a man of contrasts.

What was most difficult to write? I'd have to say that the most challenging places were the transitions between the big events. It is easy to get on a roll when there is a flash flood or a villainous bad guy up to no good, but finding just the right words to create a seamless transition that flows between the events is a challenge.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My second release, Head in the Clouds, will be hitting the shelves in October. Since I enjoy Regency romances as well as those set in the American West, I thought it would be fun to blend the two by bringing an English nobleman to Texas. In this book, a recovering romantic takes a job as governess for the mute daughter of a sheep rancher and soon learns her heart is not the only thing in danger.

* * * * *

Thank you, Karen, for being in the spotlight with us.

NEW!! Readers, read the question below associated with the spotlight and answer it in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of A Tailor-Made Bride. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Question: To be entered to win a copy of A Tailor-Made Bride, leave a comment about which of Hannah's character traits the author wishes she possessed in fuller measure. Also tell us about the character trait you most admire in your favorite novel heroines and whether or not that trait describes you as well.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

9 comments:

K said...

The character trait that the author wishes she possessed in fuller measure is that Hannah has a "compassionate heart" and also is able to see "beneath a person's surface and has the heart to reach out to those most of us would ignore". I imagine this is a character many of us would like to emulate more! I know I do. :)

A compassionate nature and also a having the character trait of being able to reach out to people and make them feel welcome, included, and at ease is something I admire in some of my favourite fictional heroines. I definitely try my best to live like this, but I am human so sometimes I mess up. But thank goodness Jesus is there to catch me and put me back on my feet! :) So, in regards to whether the trait describes me or not, it's a work in progress! :)

Thanks for the opportunity to win this book! The more I hear about it the more I am looking forward to reading it! I like how you compared the hero and heroine to ice cream! :)
God bless!
Kim
lonebanana(at)msn(dot)com

Merry said...

Karen would like to have a more compassionate heart like Hannah. I know this is something I wish I had more of, to see others with Jesus' eyes. I am drawn to characters who model determination, to not give up but reach onward and higher with hope.

Thanks for a chance to win A Tailor-Made Bride!
worthy2bpraised[at]gmail[dot]com

Cherie J said...

Hannah has a compassionate heart that Karen would like to emulate. Hannah has the gift of seeing beneath a person's surface and has the heart to reach out to those most of us would ignore.

I love heroines who are compassionate and full of life. Probably because those are traits I want to emulate. I can also relate to one who is task oriented because I am like that. I hate leaving anything undone.

Thanks for a chance to win this book. It sounds great!

cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

Michelle said...

Karen wishes to emulate, in fuller measure, the compassionate heart of Hannah.

The character trait that I most admire in a novel heroine would have to be selflessness. As I grow in my walk with the Lord, that is something that I strive for (it's definitely a work in progress). I like to see a heroine change from being selfish, to esteeming others higher than herself.

Thank you for the opportunity to win this book, Tiff and Karen! I really look forward to reading it!

Blessings,
Michelle
scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

squiresj said...

The character trait author wished she had in fuller measure is a compassionate heart.
The character trait I admire most in a heroine is that she be herself regardless of what the situation she is in. She can face good things and bad things and how she reacts to everything around her.
Since this is your first book, if you need someone to review it, I would be more than willing to read it and post on 7 to 8 sites.
jrs362 at hotmail dot com

Esther Y.M. said...

The character trait of Hannah which the author wished she had is a compassionate heart.

I too wish that. Also to be less selfish and more selfless...(still a work in progress like Michelle commented.

Please enter me.

estherym[at]yahoo[dot]com

Stay blessed...

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:

K - KIM!

Congratulations! I have emailed you for your mailing address so Karen can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Ok, Kim already won this book on another blog, so we're going with the next one selected, and that's:

MERRY (MARY) - WORTHY2BPRAISED!

Congratulations! I've emailed your information to Karen so she can send out your book.

Thanks again for everyone's support.

Merry said...

Thanks, Tiffany! I'm excited to receive Karen's book.