Thursday, February 28, 2013

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer


NO ONE STEPS ON ARCHER LAND. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.

Years of constant vigilance harden a man. Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.

Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?

Theme verse: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."-- Galatians 6:2

Author: Karen Witemeyer
Publisher: Bethany House-- 2012
Genre: Historical Romance, Fiction

About the Author
Karen Witemeyer holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. She is the author of A Taylor-Made Bride, which was honored as one of the Best Western Romances of 2010 by the Love Western Romances Web site, as well as being nominated for a RITA Award and the National Readers' Choice Award. Short-Straw Bride is her fourth novel. Karen lives in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.

Visit her web page at: for more information on her books, historical research links, character corner, giveaways and more!

My Thoughts
Though I love history and anything old-fashioned, I'm normally a reader of contemporary romance. But Karen Witemeyer has become one of my favorite authors of historical fiction with her lovable characters and action-filled plots. Her stories are always unique, and I'm never ready for the book to end! 

Read Short-Straw Bride, and don't forget to pick up a copy of her new book Stealing The Preacher coming June 2013.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Value of a Penny

The value of money, regardless of denomination, has been a big topic around our house lately as we try to teach our kids how to spend their earnings wisely. Left to their own devices, they would return home with nothing but video games and candy bars. After a week, boredom would set in after conquering the game and crashing from their sugar-high.

One of my husband's teaching devices is having the kids pay attention to the date on their coins. For example: a pre-1983 penny has a higher copper content than those made later, making their value more than double--2.34 cents! (My husband is a machinist with an astute knowledge of metal. He can't help himself.) By the way, post-1983 pennies are made of copper-plated zinc with very little copper content at all.

Somehow this "hobby" found its way into my short story that was published with OakTara Publishers in December 2012. When I started writing it, I had a vision of the main character and the diner, set in the heart of New York City, but had no idea what the story would actually be about. I started writing, and one detail linked to another until the moral fashioned into a lesson on contentment--being thankful and content with the blessings God has bestowed upon us and not coveting others for their material possessions or social status. Then when the hero of the story appeared on the page--uh, computer screen--and stumbled upon a penny, our little family activity overtook my story (hints: the title).

Money, and its value, means different things to different people. In this economy, times are tough and money scarce. My inspiration for this post (if you can call it that) is my giant pile of mending to catch up on--repairing hems, replacing missing buttons, sewing slit seams, performing major surgery on stuffed animals whose stuffing threatens to escape . . . you get the point. Just this morning, I finished sewing an all new hem on a silk skirt I bought at Banana Republic for $4 on their clearance rack five years ago. Now at $4 I definitely got my money's worth for it to last five years, and I could've parted ways with it. But I couldn't bring myself to throw it away when all it needed was a little TLC. (I even added to it to freshen it up a bit.) Yes, I can afford to go out and buy a new skirt. But why? My $4 has value.

What devices do you use to help teach your kids the value of money?
What habits do you and your family practice to help save money?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Word Wisdom from Mark Twain

For more than a century after his death, Mark Twain has been known as the father of American literature. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 in Florida, MO., he worked as a typesetter, as a young adulthood, and later began writing local newspaper articles. He went on to pilot steamboats on the Mississippi River and mined for gold and silver out west. He picked up writing again, using the pen name Mark Twain, while in Nevada.

Mark Twain is a riverboat term meaning "two fathoms." Two measurements had to be made when piloting a steamboat to make sure the water was deep enough to get through safely, therefore they would mark two fathoms (twain means two).

His love of the Mississippi River and his childhood spent in Hannibal, MO., inspired him to write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Twain was the first American author to write in the vernacular, or simple everyday language.

Mark Twain continued to write and lecture until his death in 1910. During one such lecture, he said, "To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement." How true this is! And I'm not claiming to have discovered the secret yet (if I find it, you'll be the first to know). Combining a unique writing voice, along with grammar and a perfect coupling of words is something all writer's struggle with at some point. Discovering the secret is to get published, and that's not an easy thing to do.  

I've kept this quote of Mark Twain's in my mind for the past few weeks as I'm polishing up the first fifteen pages of two manuscripts, along with a synopsis for each, to enter into a contest in hopes of taking one step further down the road in my writing journey. A lot can be said from Mark Twain's simplistic prose, which I've been constantly reminding myself of as I tend to overelaborate my verbs.

What famous quotes have helped you along your journey?