More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye is the first book in a new series. Each time I start a new project, there is an excitement that comes with getting to know a fresh group of characters, but there is also a pressure to make these characters unique. A challenge that gets increasingly difficult the more books I publish.

The premise behind my new Patchwork Family series is a group of orphans who bond to form their own family when their orphan train derails. These youngsters were overlooked, discarded, and unwanted by the families they met along their journey.  Zach, because he is a belligerent loner with a giant chip on his shoulder. Seth, because he is sickly, weakened by asthma. But how could I make my cheerful, tenderhearted Evangeline undesirable to adoptive families?

That’s when I thought of cats. No, I wasn’t going to give her claws. But what about mismatched eyes? Psychologists will tell you that at a subconscious level, humans crave symmetry. It’s why certain faces are universally more attractive than others. When that symmetry is out of balance, it creates cognitive dissonance in the human brain. In our effort to explain away this discomfort, we place blame on the cause, calling it unnatural or even something darker like witchcraft. The greater the dissonance, the greater the reaction. So, I didn’t simply give my heroine slightly different colored eyes, I made them drastically different. One dark brown and one vividly blue. These are the heterochromatic eyes that I patterned Evangeline’s after.

Evangeline grows up with constant rejection, yet she maintains her optimism and cheerful disposition. At least when she’s around her brothers. And when she meets Logan, a mysterious stranger with a hidden agenda, she finally finds a man who sees the woman behind the mismatched eyes.

Here’s a short excerpt from the initial meeting between Logan and Evangeline. Logan has just attempted to rescue Evie from what he believed to be a wild boar. In actuality, the hog is Evie’s pet.

“Since you’re new to the area, you might not be aware that you’re on Hamilton land.” Evangeline crossed her arms over her chest. Lifted her chin. Widened her stance. “My brothers won’t begrudge you snaring a rabbit or even taking down a deer if you’re in need of nourishment, but we don’t take kindly to squatters.”

His lips quirked again.

What was it about her trying to act mean that made men grin? It was quite annoying. Evangeline frowned at him.

His smile widened. “I’m aware of the boundaries. My camp is east of your property line.”

“But you’re not.” She unfolded her arms and poked him in the chest.

He stared at her finger then pointed his own and nudged it against her shoulder. “Because I was trying to save you from being gored by a wild boar.”

“One that wouldn’t actually hurt me.”

“That’s debatable.” The man folded his arms and looked down his nose at her. “Even without tusks, that thing could do serious damage if riled.”

“Then you best not rile him.” Evangeline gave a sassy wave of her head, as if she could order Hezzy to attack at any moment. The only damage her pet would likely render involved non-lethal pig slobber and a head butt that might manage to knock the fellow off-balance. But something told her this man wouldn’t be bowled over too easily. . .

“Thank you, by the way.” Evangeline met his gaze, smiling even broader when he blinked in confusion. “For your heroic rescue.” She dipped her chin. “Just because your actions were unnecessary doesn’t mean they’re not appreciated.”

He cleared his throat and shifted his weight. “You’re welcome.” His voice tapered up at the end, making the statement sound more like a question, but Evangeline chose to interpret it as a successful change of direction anyhow.

“You have a lovely horse.” She stepped to the side and twisted, letting her skirt twirl about her just a little. She’d never been good at standing still. The rhythmic twisting, even in small doses, calmed her growing nerves.

Now that the initial excitement of the discovery, chase, and tackle had subsided, she was becoming acutely aware of the fact that she was alone with a man.

A man who actually treated her like a woman. Not a sister. Not a freak of nature with unnatural eyes. But an ordinary, normal, woman.

“He’s very handsome,” she said. “Your horse.” The horse’s owner qualified for that descriptor, too. That wavy dark brown hair escaping from beneath his hat to curl over his collar. Gray eyes that had softened from steel to the color of fluffy storm clouds that projected the possibility of trouble but also offered shade. Tall. Strong. A little rough around the edges. “And friendly, too.”

The man before her mumbled something beneath his breath about horse sense not being what it used to be, but Evangeline chose to let that bit of cynicism go without comment.

…………………..Giveaway!!!

In honor of More Than Meets the Eye’s release, I’ll be giving away autographed copies (US addresses only) to three winners drawn from those who leave comments on this post. Winners will be announced on Thursday, June 7.

  • What is the most unusual pet you’ve ever owned?
  • Do you know anyone with heterchromia?
  • Who is your favorite pig from literature?
Karen Witemeyer
For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

62 Comments

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  1. Unusual pet story: When I was a youngster, they used to sell colored baby chicks. Anyone remember? Someone must have gotten one and then decided it wasn’t so cute after it got bigger and was really a chicken instead of a chick, so the farmer who caught an abandoned young bird on the side of the road with a chipped beak brought it to us because we already had chickens. Unfortunately, our chickens already had their own pecking order and wouldn’t accept this young, more domesticated newcomer. Which means of course she became a pet of mine, going for walks with me, swinging on my swing, and even walking on a lead–if you can believe it. My two dogs (a fox terrier and a border collie) accepted her and there were no problems–if you don’t consider a loose chicken walking around your yard on a regular basis a problem, that is! She was a lovely, friendly bird, but the only chicken as a pet I ever had.

    Your new story More Than Meets the Eye sounds wonderful. Thank you for the chance to win a copy! Have a a great day!

    1. Fun story, Eliza! What color was this chicken? I love that your dogs just accepted her as part of the family. 🙂

      1. White.

        Our baby chicks had been colored too (pink, blue, yellow) but they get their normal color as they grow and new feathers replace the chick fuzz they’re born with. Our chickens and my “pet” were white Leghorns, known for being terrific egg layers (about 250 eggs a year).

        “Any child who grew up in the 50s or 60s will know what a Leghorn looks like from the popular TV show Foghorn Leghorn. Leghorns were brought to the States from Italy [from Tuscany and called “Livorno” for “Leghorn”] back in the 1800s and have made the perfect backyard chicken ever since.”

        Way more than you wanted to know, right! 🙂 (I should have stopped at “white”!

        1. Ha! Not at all. I remember Foghorn Leghorn, too. Some legends continue on for generations. 🙂

          1. After all I’ve already said, I forgot this:

            “Most of the white eggs sold by grocery stores are produced by Leghorn chickens… Leghorns are lightweight birds that start laying eggs as early as 4 to 5 months of age. They can produce nearly 300 eggs per year without going broody. Leghorn chickens use most of the nutrients they consume to produce eggs instead of meat and have excellent feed-to-egg conversion even among layers.”

            That’s why when you see pictures of the big outfits supplying eggs, you’ll see masses of white hens.

            1. Fascinating! I know who to come to when I have chicken questions during my book research. 🙂

  2. Good morning- my most unusual pet I ever had was a horny toad when I was little, I was always getting one and bringing it to my room and keeping it until my mom and Dad would make me turn it back loose.
    I don’t know if anyone with different color eyes, but I did have a horse when I was growing up that had one brown eye & one blue eye. Meanest horse we ever had, he did not stay around long.
    My favorite piggy from literature would be Wilbur from Charlottes Web.
    Thanks for sharing your new book it sounds wonderful.

    1. Hi, Tonya. I grew up in the country California and I used to catch horny toads all the time. Never tried to bring one to my room, though. Hmm…I might have missed out on something there. Could have been an adventure for sure. Wonder how he would have gotten along with my hamster? 🙂

  3. Not too unusual, but I had a hamster named Fred. We were up together at night while the family slept. I was doing homework to get through Tarleton State University back then.
    Never have seen anyone or animal with different colored eyes.
    I still love the story and lesson of The Three Little Pigs.
    Your new book and characters sound very interesting.

    1. I had a hamster named Alex … until she had babies. Then she became Alexandria. 🙂 Sounds like you and Fred were great study partners.

  4. I met someone with different colored eyes but did not really know them. I always liked Babe the pig. I do not think I had nay that were unusual except for maybe two lung fish. They actually knew me and would come to me even with others around the tank.

    1. Wow, Debra! I’ve never heard of fish that would come when “called.” How fun! I’ll have to start calling you the lung fish whisperer. 🙂

  5. Good Morning!! My unusual pet for me although not unusual for a lot of people was a Guinea pig my daughters finally talked me into get one I thought it looked a giant Rat but was pleasantly surprised it had a very sweet personality. Even still when it died that was enough for me. One of daughter’s eyes the iris is blue with a little greenish brown in a part of it. Of course the first pig that comes to mind is Wilbur. I think every child has loved the Charlotte Web pig growing up. Would love to read your book. Have a blessed day

    1. Wilbur is definitely the classic choice of literature pigs. I still love Charlotte’s Web. Thanks, Glenda!

  6. I have never known anyone with heterchromia, but I did know a cat who had it. The only pig I can think of is the one in Charlotte’s Web. I really have had any unusual pets in my life, but I did have two Devon Rex cats who got a lot of attention for looking different. They had big round eyes and short faces with puffy cheeks and big ears. they also have curly fur. We just recently lost our last one. They both broke my heart. They were more loving than most cats.

    1. Losing a dear pet is heartbreaking. So sorry you had to say goodbye, Janine. They sound like a really interesting breed. So unusual.

  7. I have always had either cats or dogs for a pet Never wanted anything else.
    My sister has one eye that is half brown and half blue. The other eye is kind of green.
    I have never had a favorite pig in literature.

    1. Hi, Estella. How interesting your sister’s eyes sound! I would love to see a picture some time. 🙂

  8. Good morning, Karen, loved your discussion about the excitement of a new series while making your characters unique. How very true, as an author, always a challenge. I also liked your discussion of heterochromia, and most people’s response to symmetry, something we don’t usually think about. I also think your idea of an orphan train is fascinating. When I researched orphanages in the latter part of the nineteenth century, west of the Mississippi, I didn’t find much. Which means, I guess, that orphans, at that time, were on their own or taken in by relatives.
    To answer your questions, One of my friend’s cats had different colored eyes, she was a long-haired Persian cat named RJ who liked to pounce on the weatherman’s pointer on TV. She was a kooky cat! Like most everyone else, I don’t know many pigs in literature, except for Wilbur in Charlotte’s web. My most unusual pet actually belonged to my son, and it was a hamster, called Wendy, who when she got loose, would return to my son and sleep on his chest until he woke up and put her back in her cage (hamsters are nocturnal). And despite being nocturnal, she would crawl up on top of her “toy” house and listen when I read him bedtime stories, and by the end of the story, she’d be snoozing, too. She was a very unusual hamster.

    1. Hi, Hebby. Love your comments. And what a funny hamster! I never really understood about them being nocturnal as a kid. I just thought my hamster was lazy, sleeping the day away. Ha! Then she got fat and I kept insisting she get in her exercise ball. Until the night she had babies, and I realized she wasn’t fat at all. Poor thing. I probably wasn’t the best of owners.

  9. I guess mine would be an amazon parrot named Chico. He could talk a little and wave bye bye. If you sat down to eat he had to have a plate too. I also met a guy one time that had one blue eye and one green eye. He was a good friend for a while until he moved away. Haven’t heard from him since.

    1. What an exotic pet! And Chico sounds like he must have been quite the character. How fun!

  10. I actually have a relative with one blue and one brown eye. I forget she has that because it is just part of her and I don’t “see” it anymore. My daughter works with a horse that has a blue and brown eye. Quite weird to see! No unique pets, though. Just cats, fish, dog and chickens.

    1. How interesting that you have a family member with heterochromia. It’s been very interesting to me to hear from readers who have it or know someone who does.

  11. I actually grew up with a guy who had heterchromia. Amazing!

  12. My mom has a miniature horse with one blue eye and one brown eye, which makes her look pretty wild. Granted, there are some other [ahem] behavioral traits that don’t exactly ease that impression. A girl one grade behind me had one blue eye and one green, but it wasn’t very noticeable–I think I’d known her for years, including riding the bus together every day, before consciously noting the difference. Although that might say more about MY observational skills–I really have to make a conscious effort to note and remember a person’s eye color.

    1. Yes, there are many cases of heterochromia that are barely noticeable. I like your miniature horse example, though. What a personality!

  13. For a very short while, I had 8 baby skunks! They could not spray yet and we tried to see if a vet would fix one or some for us, but too many people had done that and then releases them back into the wild with no self-defense, so they would not do that anymore. They were cute as can be before we gave them away! I do not know anyone with heterchromia. I think my favorite pig would have to be Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web. My dad raised pigs growing up and when I did a book report on Charlotte’s Web, he helped form a pig for Wilbur out of clay, and it was fantastic!

    1. Skunks??? Oh my goodness, Katie. You are a brave soul. 🙂

  14. I have had a wide range of pets over the years… lizards, rodents of all types, birds, fish, dogs and cats… growing up my best friend was my parrot Oscar. He would play hide and seek, give me kisses, guard my room from others… years later I found out he was a she, when an egg appeared in the cage, LOL…

    1. Ha! Those sneaky parrots. Oscar sounds like a great companion, no matter her gender. 😉

  15. Love the story and the Eye’s.

  16. I had to drop back in and see if my comments were here because my connection was spinning spinning spinning this morning when I tried so I hope this doesn’t end up being a duplicate. The strangest pet that has ever been at my home would be a pet of my husbands and that was a baby gator. Luckily he only kept it a very short time! Long enough to show it off. It was after a very very wet spring and gators were showing up in places no one wanted. The only heterchromia I currently remember is one of my 7th grade teachers/coaches and he had one blue and one green eye. My favorite pig in film is Babe and my favorite in literature is Wilbur! Pigs were my favorite show animal when I was in ag in highschool and I adore baby pigs. I’ve yet to read one of your books and would love the opportunity to read one. A giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list. I just started reading again in November 2016 after decades of not reading and I’m half way through my 135th book.

    1. A baby gator! Whew! You’re a brave woman to let that one hang around. Even little ones would make me nervous.

  17. Hi Karen, A pet dove….she waits till I get up & lands to eat the bird seed out of the bowl on the ground & she’s in the middle of it. She won’t let any other birds near it. If I am late getting up, she sits on the window sill & pecks on the window. Had her around now for about 2 yrs. I don’t know of anyone with heterchromia. I love Babe & Wilbur, only pigs I have see at the movie or read about. Thanks, for a chance to win a copy of your book.

    1. I’ve never heard of a pet dove, Lois. I like it. A lot better than what happens to all the poor doves around Texas during hunting season.

  18. I’m afraid I’m just a plain old person – nothing unusual. I’ve always just had cats. In fact, I just got an 8-week old kitten Friday. My daughter has cats, dogs, horses, and a rabbit. My dad has coon hounds, which my daughter also loves. I don’t guess I’ve read about a pig since childhood and I don’t remember that. I’ve never heard of this eye condition. I read the excerpt over the weekend and put it in my shopping cart, but haven’t gotten it ordered yet. Thanks for the opportunity.

    1. Kittens are so fuzzy and adorable, Linda. So sweet! No need for exotic when you have such abundant cuteness. 🙂

  19. We had many pets over the years. I don’t consider them all that unusual. We had a couple of ferrets for a while, 3 large rats, and a variety of rodents in addition to the usual cats and dogs. I guess my ball python would be the most unusual of the lot.
    Karen, you always have the best covers for your books and the best stories inside. This sounds like it will be an interesting series. I don’t care what Evangeline thinks about her pig, they are quite dangerous when they get big.

    I have never know anyone with heterochromia, but our daughter had an acquaintance who had it.

    My favorite pig would be Wilbur from CHARLOTTE’S WEB.

    1. My hero, Logan, shares your opinions about hogs, Patricia. Thankfully, Evangeline’s big brothers made sure to pull out Hezekiah’s cutters before he grew to full size, so at least he doesn’t have those mean tusks. He can certainly still through his weight around, though. 🙂

  20. we had ferrets when I was a kid.

    1. I remember the ferret craze. They were the hot pet back in the day. 🙂 Reminds me of that old movie Kindergarten Cop with and the class pet ferret.

  21. No unusual pets, but our old Pug Pep has more character than most people and now that he can’t see very well and can’t walk, he can make the most interesting variety of noises to get our attention.

    No, I have never know anyone with heterochromia.

    I think Babe would be my favorite.

    Sounds like a great book, enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Pug Pep must be a well-loved member of the family. Those are the best kind, no matter the age.

  22. Ah, no unusual pets; we’ve only had hermit crabs, a millipede, and some frogs. I don’t know anyone with heterochromia and no favorite pigs….

    1. Those sounds plenty unusual to me, MJSH. 🙂

  23. Hi Karen, my pets have always been dogs, cats and one parakeet and I have to claim Wilbur the pig from Charlotte’s Web.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. My husband has always talked about getting a bird. Not sure if that will ever happen, though we do have nesting birds on our front porch that show up every summer. Not exactly pets, but they’re cute to have around when the babies hatch.

  24. I’m not sure I’ve had an unusual pet…unless you count our cat who acts a bit to much like dog in the begging department!!!
    No I don’t know anyone who has that….though I vaguely remember a book character who had it…dang it I can’t remember any more 🙁 just that one brother had it and the other didn’t……I’ll have to go looking to see what it was lol
    Favorite literature pig???? Ummmm I like Wilbur but I’m not sure he’s my fav, is it bad that I might not have one?,

    1. You don’t have a favorite literature pig??? I’m so disappointed in you, Alecia. Everyone has a favorite pig. (Did you catch the thick sarcasm?) LOL. I don’t think anyone thinks about pigs in literature except me when I’m trying to come up with ideas for random blog posts. Although, I did find an article online that spurred some ideas for me, so I guess I’m not the only one. 🙂

  25. Hi Karen!
    Congratulations on the new book – it sounds delightful. Thanks for the excerpt. Unusual pet – for a while, I had a pet chameleon (until he grew large enough to release outside). Unusual pets can give you a new insight into critters 🙂
    Nancy C

    1. Just like Pascal in Tangled!!! Loved that movie. And Pascal the chameleon was quite the hero. 😉

  26. A Guinea pig (not so unusual)
    Yes, a student in our school. Very adorable little one.
    Probably Wilber, I haven’t read many books with pigs. 🙂

    1. Well, I hope you enjoy the pig in this story, Becca. 🙂 Hezekiah is a very kingly pig. LOL.

  27. Most unusual pet would have to be a bearded dragon, Lil’ Dude. He was so macho, he fell of the bathroom counter defending his turf from his menacing reflection in the mirror!

    There was a student in my class with heterochromia. He was a lot of fun and always kept us in stitches!

    The only book I’ve read with a pig character was Charlotte’s Web. Wilbur was very cute! 🙂

    1. I love your description of Lil’ Dude. Too fun! I can just picture him strutting around the bathroom counter before attacking his reflection. LOL!

      1. Lol! yes, there was a LOT of strutting, and a mad scramble to stay on the counter right before a crash landing into the bathroom trash can. 🙂

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