Tag: Karen Witemeyer

Mother of the American Valentine + A Giveaway

Did you know that the American Valentine greeting card business was started by a woman in 1847? Not only that, but she ran her extremely profitable business out of her home and employed other women in assembly-line craftsmanship years before Henry Ford made the business model famous.

Esther Howland was a college-educated woman who also happened to be the daughter of a stationer and bookseller. The year she graduated from the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847, she received an English Valentine from one of her father’s associates. At this time, such cards were imported from Europe and very expensive. They would only be available for the wealthy elite. Yet, as she looked at this card, her entrepreneurial mind saw possibilities. Have you ever found something in a store with an outrageous price tag and thought, “I could make that for a fraction of the cost”? Well, Esther not only had that thought, but she created a business plan.

She asked her father to order lace paper, paper flowers, and other supplies from Europe, then she set about creating her own designs. When she had a dozen, she presented them to her brother who reluctantly agreed to take them with him on his next sales trip. She hoped to receive perhaps $200 worth of orders. She received $5,000!

She dedicated a room in her home as her manufacturing shop, recruited her friends to help, and got to work. She would create the patterns for each piece of the valentine, then pass them off to the other girls to duplicate. Each one would be in charge of a certain piece of the multi-layered card. By 1849, the assembly line had been perfected and her business was born. She began to advertise and eventually expanded into the Christmas and birthday card market as well. Her basic cards sold for five cents. Her more elaborate designs containing hidden doors, ribbon trimmings, and gilded lace would sell for as much as one dollar.

In 1870, she incorporated the New England Valentine Company, but she  continued running the business out of her home until 1879 when she moved it into a factory. She even allowed customized verse. All of her cards included four lines of poetic verse. However, if you fell in love with a particular card design but didn’t care for the verse, you could purchase The New England Valentine Co.’s Valentine Verse Book and simply cut one you like better from the 131 available in the book and paste it over the verse that didn’t suit. Clever woman!

********** GIVEAWAY **********

In honor of Valentine’s Day and clever women who create romantic masterpieces, I’d like to invite you to a Facebook party and offer a chance to win one of three fantastic Valentine prizes.

Sixteen fabulous historical authors are coming together to celebrate romance on Feb 13-14. We’ll be chatting live with readers during this party, and I’d love to see you there. My time slot is
7:00 pm CST on Feb 14th.

Click here to join the party.

Not only are we chatting at the party, but from now until the end of the party, there is a HUGE giveaway going on.

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

Another winner will receive a copy of each of the 16 highlighted books – all romantic reads fit for an extended Valentine escape.

And a final winner will receive this fun Jane Austen inspired book bag.

.

.

.

.

.

Click here to enter the giveaway.

Have you ever made a Valentine by hand?

What is the best Valentine’s gift you ever received?

Special Sale Through January 31

Just a quick note to let you know that the first book in my Archer Brothers series is on sale until the end of the month for only $1.99.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Now’s the time to see why Short-Straw Bride has garnered over 4,500 five-star ratings on Goodreads! Fall in love with the Archer brothers for only $1.99 for the e-book at all online retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book

Starting a New Series

It’s always exciting, and a little daunting, to start a new series. Even though I still have two more projects coming in 2019 to complete my current series, I’ve already started work on a new group of stories that will debut in 2020.

The inspiration for this new series came from a mash-up of two televisions series I watched as a teen – one from the 1980s and one from the early 1990s.

Anyone remember these?

Well, I decided to create a four-man team of ex-cavalry officers bonded through the shared trauma of the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. They hire themselves out to citizens in need of defense against unjust opposition. Haunted by the atrocities they participated in during wartime, they travel across Texas to right wrongs, using their military skills on behalf of those who have no one else to turn to and stumble across love along the way.

They are known as Hanger’s Horsemen.

*****

Meet the team:

Captain Matthew Hanger – Age 37, leader, hardened by army life, dedicated to keeping the frontier safe for women and children after his own family was murdered by a band of Comanche warriors in Parker County in 1860 when he was only five years old.

Trumpeter Mark Wallace – Age 27, charmer who deals with the horrors of war through superficial relationships, humor, and music. Comes from a privileged background. Enlisted in search of adventure.

Corporal Luke “Preach” Davenport – Age 31, nicknamed “Preach” because he always has a verse to quote. Not because of any real depth of spirituality, but because when he’d been a boy his punishment entailed memorizing and reciting scripture, and he got into trouble a lot. His father shipped him off to the military in hopes of instilling discipline and a respect for authority. His reckless spirit has made him lethal with a sabre and in hand-to-hand combat.

Sergeant Jonah Brooks – Age 30, buffalo soldier with the 10th Cavalry, expert marksman. Jonah is the quiet one, more intelligent that people give him credit for. He prefers to watch from the shadows and decide how to act after he’s weighed all the facts. But when he acts, he can be deadly.

*****

There will be three books in the series. The first pairs the captain with lady doctor, Josephine Burkett. My Posse helped my pick out inspiration images for Matt and Josephine. And we can’t forget Matt’s horse. Meet Phineas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanger’s Horsemen won’t put in an official appearance until summer 2020, but they are coming to life on the page for me now as I write, and I wanted to share a hint of them with you.

  • Are there other 80’s TV shows you think should be turned into western romances?
  • Any A-Team or Magnificent Seven fans out there? Who were your favorite characters?

 

Merry Cowboy Christmas

Christmas is such a wonderful time to be together with family and share in healthy doses of love and laughter. My empty nest is back to peak capacity with my college student kiddos back home, and this mama is loving it! We have a puzzle going that my daughter and I work on together. We play board games nearly every night. Now if I could just find time to wrap all the gifts stuffed in my closet.

You know what I need? I need a cowboy hero to ride to my rescue and wrangle all those stray gifts, brand ’em with paper and bows, and herd them under the tree. Maybe what I need is this guy:

I don’t write for Harlequin, but I have to admit, this ad made me smile.

And with Christmas right around the corner, I have a great virtual stocking stuffer idea for you.

The Christmas Heirloom is on sale for only $2.99 for the e-book version at all major retailers through the end of December. Stuff your own stocking with a little Christmas cheer or surprise a friend with an e-gift. All you need is their email address to send them a copy.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book


  • So if you could borrow a cowboy Christmas hero for the day, what would you have him do?

Merry Christmas!

COWBOYS & MISTLETOE ~ Day 2

 

November 26 – 29

Margaret Brownley

                              Old West Christmas Brides Collection

Margaret’s Story:

A Pony Express Christmas

Stranded alone in Nebraska Territory in 1862 with a broken wagon and two stubborn mules, Ellie-Mae Myers has no way to continue searching for her twin brother along the deserted Pony Express route or of returning home to Kentucky. Could a man on the verge of being hanged be the answer to her prayers?

B&N

iTunes

   Amazon

 

 

The Nutcracker Bride

A Novella

When Texas ranger, Chad Prescott, wakes up from a gunshot injury in Kansas, he finds himself surrounded by German nutcrackers and nursed by the feisty Lucy Langdon. Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship or just a bad dream?

Amazon

B&N

iTunes

 

 

I’m giving away a $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD! 

***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!*** 

Karen Witemeyer

 

My latest release is a novella collection called The Christmas Heirloom which contains a collection of stories that are connected by a luckenbooth brooch that is handed down from mother to daughter across the generations, bringing true love to whomever possesses it. In my particular story, Gift of the Heart, I played with the biblical motif of Ruth and Boaz and added a dose of Beauty and the Beast along with a matchmaking cat. A widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs for a fresh start, but with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love?

My Facebook fan group The Posse played an integral role in plotting this story, and I dedicated it to them in thanks for their help. They were the ones to spark the idea of Bo suffering residual pain from a childhood injury and needing to take the waters himself as well as creating Theodore, our matchmaking cat. The story would not have been the same without them.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book

I’m giving away a $10 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON to one lucky reader today!
***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!***
Hope you win!

 

Winnie Griggs

I don’t have a Christmas novella, so instead I want to showcasethe re-release of one of my Christmas novels, The Christmas Journey, which is bundled with two other Christmas stories for a festive read.

ABOUT THE STORY:
Philadelphia lawyer Ryland Lassiter is everything Josephine Wylie wants – for a brother-in-law!  As the sole supporter of her family, Josie’s plans for herself have always had to wait.  But Ryland will be ideal as the new head of the Wylie clan…once he finally realizes how perfect he is for her sister.

Ry knows its time to settle down.  The newly appointed guardian to a friend’s daughter, he’s ready for a home and family.  All he needs is a bride…and Josie’s sister is not the Wylie who has caught his eye.  If only Josie would see the truth – that the only Christmas present he needs is her love.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

I’m giving away a $10 GIFT CARD TO AMAZON to one lucky reader!
***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!*** 

Easy-peasy!  
Good Luck!

Winners will be verified and announced on Sunday, December 2nd.

Be sure to check back to see if you won!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Drawing Inspiration from History

When deciding on a setting for my stories, I alternate between real places and fictional ones. When I use real places, readers from that area will get excited about seeing a familiar place mentioned in a book they are reading. However, using a fictional place gives me the freedom to create the town and people exactly to my liking, so instead of fitting my story into an existing setting, I can shape the setting to fit my story. Both have their advantages and their challenges.

In my latest story,I decided to try to get the best of both worlds by creating a fictional setting that was based on an actual place. I stayed as true to the history of that town as possible while simply changing the names and a few key details.

Health seekers drinking from a fountain in Mineral Wells.

My fictional town of Hope Springs is based on the actual town of Mineral Wells, TX. I pass signs for Mineral Wells every time I drive down the highway, but I’ve never actually visited, even though it is only about 2 hours from where I live in Abilene. The history surrounding Mineral Wells, is fascinating, though, and I incorporated much of that history into the fictional resort town of Hope Springs.

In 1877, James Lynch and his family settled in the hills of Palo Pinto County. Water was scarce, so in 1880, they had a well drilled. The water tasted odd, but it didn’t seem to hurt the livestock, so the family started drinking it as well. James and his wife both suffered from rheumatism, and James suffered from complications of malaria. Soon after they started drinking the water, however, they began to feel better. News of the “healing waters” spread quickly and within a month, strangers started showing up asking about the water. Lynch’s well produced 100 gallons a day, but he soon struggled to meet demand. With the popularity of the site, however, the city of Mineral Wells was born, and developers arrived to drill more wells and establish hotels where bottled mineral water would be sold. By the turn of the century there were bathhouses, drinking pavilions, and spas throughout the city. The most famous brand was Crazy Water named because of the elderly lady who drank from the well twice a day and eventually overcame her dementia. The story could indeed be true, for the well water contains a significant amount of lithium, which is used to treat various mental health disorders today.

Click cover to order

My hero, Beauregard Azlin suffers nerve pain from an old injury, and when he hears about healing waters in Texas, he seeks out the cure. When the drinking and bathing treatments offer a measure of relief, he invests in the area and builds a resort to serve others who suffer similar afflictions. Due to his entrepreneurial spirit, he basically owns everything in town, and when a young widow arrives to take a position as a cook at one the local cafe’s and needs a loan to provide a roof over her daughter’s head, he is the only person she can turn to to seek a loan. And the only thing of value she can offer as collateral is a treasured heirloom brooch reputed to bring true love to whomever possesses it. Add in a matchmaking cat and a little Christmas magic, and romance is born.

Inspired by the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz with a touch of Beauty and the Beast thrown in for good measure, I hope you’ll enjoy Gift of the Heart, my contribution to The Christmas Heirloom anthology – a collection of novellas of love through the generations following an heirloom that is passed from mother to daughter.

  • Have you ever read a book set in a town you were familiar with? Did it help you enjoy the story more?
  • Do you prefer books set in real places or does it matter to you?

Karen Is Signing Books in Lubbock!

If you happen to live in West Texas, I’d love to see you this weekend. I’ll be signing books at the Barnes & Noble in the South Plains Mall in Lubbock. And the extra cool thing is that Jeff and Kristie Gilliam (the couple who I met in that same store in 2016 and who I named a character after in More Than Meets the Eye) will be there, too. Should be fun!

You can read the post I wrote about the Gilliams here.

Turn of the Century Texas Homes

I’m down to the last week before my deadline and things are crazy! However, as any professional writer will tell you, we’re never just thinking about one project. We are writing one while marketing another. We are working on edits for a third a researching plot ideas for a fourth. Thankfully, I’m only juggling three of those balls instead of all four this week, but it still requires a mental dexterity that can be as taxing as it is exciting.

Next week I will turn in my current manuscript and start work on the next project – one that took me to Gainesville, TX last week to research their wonderful history in person. My story will feature a Harvey Girl heroine working at the newly opened Harvey Lunch Counter in 1902 Gainesville, TX. The people of Gainesville have done a fabulous job of preserving their history, and last week I blogged about walking the very halls of the Santa Fe Depot that my character will. You can find that blog here.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the other wonderful finds I discovered in Gainesville. Not only did I need to know what the lunch counter and depot were like, but I needed to learn about the city itself, and I found a treasure trove. Gainesville has numerous preserved homes from the late 1890s and early turn of the century, the era that I will be writing about.

We took a driving tour of the town, and I took lots of pictures. These are my top 8 houses. The hero in my story is going to have a slightly snobbish mother who looks down on the heroine, viewing a waitress as not only being beneath her son’s station as a lawyer and wealthy rancher’s heir, but as a morally loose woman as well. Which of these houses do you think such a woman would live in?

If YOU were going to live in one of these houses, which would you choose?

Karen’s Winner of More Than Meets the Eye

We have our winners!

Big congratulations to:

Hebby Roman

Susan P

&

Alecia Witbart

I’m so excited to have the chance to share Logan and Evangeline’s story with you. I’ll be sending you an email with instructions on how to claim your prize, so keep your eyes peeled. A rollicking western adventure is on it’s way!

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?
Petticoats & Pistols © 2015