Full Steam Ahead – Giveaway!!!

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What do you get when you mix a “mad scientist” hero with a woman on a mission to save her family? Lots of explosive action and heart-pounding romance. And when I say, explosive, I mean KABOOM!!!

When I started writing this book, I knew I wanted to pair a feisty heroine with a hero who was obsessed with science. But what kind of scientific obsession would make sense in Texas in the 19th century? I wanted something exciting, something explosive. At first I played around with making him a chemist, thinking of all the lovely laboratory experiments that could go wrong. But it had been far too many years since my high school chemistry days, and I didn’t trust myself to handle the science needed to accurately portray that type of hero.

Then I remembered steam engines – steamboat engines in particular. Very explosive. I started digging into the research and learned that during the height of riverboat expansion into the American west in the 1840s and 50s, thousands of passengers and crew lost their lives every year in boiler explosions aboard steamboats. So I put my hero aboard an actual 19th century steamboat, the Louisiana, on the day that its boiler exploded in New Orleans.

A few minutes after 5:00 p.m. on November 15, 1849, the Louisiana began to pull away from the wharf, and all at once the boilers exploded with such force that large pieces of the boilers were blown hundred of yards, killing not only passengers, but pedestrians and animals on land as well as severely damaging two other nearby vessels on the river. Some passengers were scalded to death, falling timbers and debris crushed others, still others drowned trying to escape. The mighty ship sunk in a mere ten minutes. Over 150 people died that day. And no one could determine the cause of the explosion.

steamboat explosion

This is where Darius Thornton’s obsession was born. He was aboard the Louisiana during this horrendous tragedy, saw the death and destruction firsthand, and despite his efforts to save the women and children around him, still lost too many. Darius gave up his lucrative position in his family’s business, bought an abandoned plantation near Liberty, Texas along the Trinity River, and started conducting his own experiments with steam engine boilers, determined to find a way to help make steamboat travel safer.



In honor of Full Steam Ahead’s release, I’ll be drawing two names from today’s commenters to receive free, autographed copies. [Available for US addresses only.]

So here’s a question for you . . .

  • Who are your favorite scientific heroes – mad or otherwise?
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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.

55 thoughts on “Full Steam Ahead – Giveaway!!!”

  1. Dr. Jonas Salk who gave us the polio vaccine. When I was young this was a terrible disease. I have a cousin who had it.

  2. Marie Curie – the first woman to win a Nobel prize and an inspiration for future women scientists.

  3. These aren’t necessarily that scientific but I have become obsessed with midwifery and Ina May Gaskin in the midwifery revival in Tennesse (and the united states for that matter.) She has a medical birthing procedure named after her that even dr.’s will use. Definitely a hero in my mind!

  4. I am so excited for this book and can’t wait for it to release! Would love a chance to win a copy! Favorite scientific hero would have to be Benjamin Franklin. My girls have done reports on him and I have always been intrigued by all that he contributed to science and more importantly our country.

  5. I just learned more about Hawaii’s King David Kalakaua (1870’s) for the Christmas story I’m writing. He was so intrigued with science he met with Thomas Edison and had arranged electric lighting in his palace…many years before the White House! The other commenters have mentioned several of my favorites. I think it’s sad that today schoolkids know all about pro athletes and rap musicians and couldn’t tell you what miracle Jonas Salk created.

    Great post, Karen. The inspiration for your new book is just wonderful. Best wishes.

  6. Dr. Alexander Fleming the father of Penicillin. Though others purified the technique and brought it into production Dr. Fleming was the first to publish results and give it a name.
    Without penicillin, I would not be here. Many others would have died from infection as well.

  7. I would go with Salk and Flemming. Two great scientists. Thank you for a great post, Karen. Your book is beautiful and I would sure love to settle down with it!

  8. I can’t really remember my favorite scientists. I’d have to say Madame Curie and Einstein.

    Thanks for a chance to win this. I’ve been eagerly awaiting it.


  9. Science was never really my thing. I’m more of a reader and historian lol. But I recently uncovered a family scientist while researching my roots, so I guess he’s kinda my favorite scientist right now. 🙂 George Braxton Pegram worked for years as a professor and dean at Columbia University during the years up to and including World War II. He was a friend of Marie Curie (I even found a picture of them together and freaked out a little lol!) and was instrumental in helping Enrico Fermi escape from Italy and defect here to America. George was also in on the early discussions with the US military and government about the possibilities of an atomic bomb and was on the early research team that preceded the Manhattan Project. So… now you know. 😛

  10. My favorite would have to be Thomas Edison. =) if he counts. He grew up right here in my home town and we have a statue of him down town by the river. I loved learning about him in school. And Karen I love your books. You’re definitely one of my favorite authors out there. I love the Acher brothers stories. =)

  11. I love your books and I love this idea for your new book! I have always been fascinated with the wright brothers. To have that kind of amazing thinking in a time where people probably just rolled their eyes at them. Even though they weren’t the first to experiment with making a flying contraption but they were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible. Wow and neither of them finished high school.

    Thanks for the chance to win, when I saw it was going to be autographed my eye popped out hahahha, big fan.

  12. I have Full Steam Ahead in my TBR pile. I’ve been itching to get to it, just because your books are always so fun, Karen.

    Now I want it MORE. Love the cover, too.

  13. I’ve never really thought about it, but I guess Thomas Edison. He gave us the light bulb! Mr. Edison also had to be the most patient and persistent person on the planet to keep on going after all his experiments failed. Wow!

  14. I love your books, Karen! I can’t wait to read this one…I’d LOVE to win a copy! Hmmm, scientific heroes…I’d have to agree with those who said Dr. Salk with the polio vaccine. Very thankful for modern vaccine.

  15. My favorite is Louis Pasteur. I wrote a blog about him, I think here, a while back.

    He had three children who died of typhoid.
    He was a chemist.
    He was brilliant.

    His story is of a brilliant man, obsessed with finding a way to save lives, driven by the deaths of his own children.

    To this end he rose to the head of a scientific college and put in place all these rigid standards so he could measure every success and failure to make the next test an improvement. There was no LUCK involved in the advances he made in medicine. Vaccinations, Pasturization, the Germ Theory of Disease, Rabies and Anthrax cures.

    He poured his heart and soul and mind into his work, surrounded himself with other brilliant men and changed the world.

    To me he’s an example of the finest work possible by man.

  16. Karen, your book sounds wonderful and I just love the cover. Congratulations!

    I have to go with Marie Curie, the first female Nobel prize winner. For a woman to do what she did back then is amazing. Her pioneering work with radium and how it affects cancer cells has saved millions of lives.

  17. Personally my favorite scientific hero is Albert Einstein. I may not understand all of the scientific stuff that he did, but he has some amazing inspiring quotes out there that I love.

  18. Wow – These are all so commendable. I love it! Such creative minds to be able to see things in ways no one before them ever had. I am forever thankful for all of them.
    Great choices!

  19. Jocelyn – Your comment totally grabbed my interest. Not just because midwifery fascinates me too, but because my maiden name is – Gaskin. I wonder if I’m somehow related to Ina May. That would be really cool!

  20. I love your books, Karen. Thank you for sharing some of Darius’ backstory with us. I’m so eager to read Full Steam Ahead!
    My favorite scientists are Galileo and Copernicus. The fact that they were willing to buck convention and the accepted norms in favor of truth has always appealed to me.

  21. I meant my eyes poped hahahah, that’s what I get when I try to type with my 2 year old in my lap. 🙂

  22. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Your writings are always about such diverse things. They always hold my attention. I would have to say my favorite scientist would be Leonardo da Vinci. I love how his mind wasn’t involved in just one area…he studied painting, sculpture, anatomy, engineering, mathematics, natural philosophy,and so much more. He invented musical instruments, hydraulic pumps, and even a steam cannon!

  23. Cori – I’ve been there with the kids on the lap. In fact, just this weekend, my twelve-year-old son came in to visit me while I was busy writing and decided to type a random “x” in my manuscript. Just couldn’t keep those fingers off the keyboard. Crazy kids. Gotta love ’em!

  24. I am not sure exactly who my favorite scientist is, but if I had to pick one it would probably be Einstein! He was such a great mad scientist who did so much to contribute to Physics! Also, God is a pretty great scientist himself, probably the greatest there is! 🙂


  25. Oh boy… never really thought about having a fav scientist… I am in awe as to what they have done, figured out and invented through all of the years… such brilliant minds.

  26. I have to say my favorite is Scotty. Although not real (and maybe technically not a scientist) his antics amused me. He also made an impression on my Dad, and he would walk around quoting Scotty.

  27. Dominique – I LOVE Scotty. He was like the MacGuyver of the space world. Somehow he always came through and was an expert at problem-solving under great pressure. Fun example.

  28. My favorite scientist would have to be my high school science teacher, Mr. Anthony. (Does that count?) We still attend the same congregation, and him and his sweet family are still an inspiration to me.

  29. That’s horrible! I never knew that was such a problem. I’m surprised anyone wanted to get on or near a steamboat. Did they ever figure out how to fix the problem?
    I’ll have to say Doctor Who is my favorite only because my dad would let us stay up late on a school night (Monday)to watch it. My favorite Dr. was the one with the the really long scarf and brown curly hair.

    jennydtipton at gmail dot com

  30. Jennifer – The did eventually make advancements to help regulate the steam pressure and enact legislation allowing the government to regulate the industry to some degree. It was really groundbreaking for the time, giving the government the right to interfere with private commerce in order to protect public safety. It was the forerunner of organizations like the FDA and airline regulators. I actually use a bit of this history in the book, including an epilogue that brings actual discoveries to light, so I hope you get to read it. It was fascinating to research.

    • Thanks so much Karen and yes very interesting! I will definitely try to get your book because I have several of your books and I’ve enjoyed them.

  31. I would probably say Thomas Edison just because I can’t see my life without lightbulbs. Haha!

  32. The first scientist I thought of was the one from “Back to the Future, who created time travel. And then I thought of my little brother, Andrew, who used to read Physics books for free reading!

  33. I’m totally surprised that no one has mentioned DaVinci yet (or that I missed it). He is by far my favorite inventor/innovator. All of the research he did about anatomy, the stars, flying machines, tanks, etc. It’s amazing! Can’t wait to read Full Steam Ahead!

  34. I think I would have to go with Galileo (though Imhave to admit science is definitely not my strong subject). I have always been so amazed by how he figured out how to measure air temperature by precisely weighted balls in liquid!

    Thank you for this chance! I love your books! They are always such fun reads!

    Stephanie C.

  35. The first scientist/hero that comes to mind is Marie Curie. I think I’ve read all of your books, Karen, and have enjoyed them all very much. Thanks for this chance to win your new book, Full Steam Ahead. It sounds like it will be another great book.

  36. This sounds like a great book! If I don’t win, I’ll be sure to buy it 🙂

    Einstein and DaVinci come to mind, and also the scientist from Back to the Future

  37. I would say Fredrick Banting, who first discovered help for diabetes with the discovery of insulin.


  39. Everyone had wonderful Scientist suggestions. My own nephew has a PhD in Geophysics. I didn’t know what it was for a long time. However, ALL Scientists are great. I always wanted to be an Archeologist, or a Paleantologist, but it wasn’t in the works. The Climate people who are working so hard right now, they are all great. My step-daughter has degrees in cellular AND Molecular Biology. So it kind of runs in the family. I really want to read your book.

  40. Karen, there are so many that are really wonderful. I love how Thomas Edison has helped with so many things we enjoy. Also , Benjamine Franklin, and Louis Pastuer in making us much safer in what he did. But, so many others like Salk and can’t leave out Alexander Fleming with Pennicilion. how could we make it without that. Karen, your book sounds great. I would love to win it. Maxie

  41. I would love to win Full Steam Ahead. We owe much to many scientists. A favorite, modern one is Neil Degrasse Tyson. He makes astronomy fun and accessable. Cosmos is enthralling and I love when he shows up as a guest on The Daily Show.

  42. My favorite scientist is Isaac Newton. Even though he wrote and studied so many scientific things, he claimed that his most important work was the commentary he wrote on the book of Daniel in the Bible.

  43. I would say SALK…..had a childhood friend with polio…
    an awful disease.
    Am so excited about your book, Karen!! Love your books.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

  44. I think most people would like drastically changing your life to “tinker” would be rather mad. However, I think our innovations only improve and become safer because someone got “mad”–angry, over the senseless loss of life. His desire to improve travel and make it safer for others would be my ideal of a hero. I can’t wait to see the sparks and debris fly.

  45. So many wonderful scientists mentioned. I loved reading every one – especially those that are within your own personal families. We owe so much to these incredibly gifted men and women. Thanks for all the comments!

  46. I have loved all of your books, covers, the humor mixed in – and can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

    My college Organic Chemistry professor, Mr. Mica…I believe was a MAD scientist and scared us half to death! Back then he would smoke his pipe while lecturing. I once made him a Pumpkin Pie (home ec major), and set it on his lab table. Covered in foil, guess he couldn’t tell what it was. He grabbed his text, whopped it on my pie, took the foil off and said… pumpkin, my favorite.

  47. Is it too late to enter? I have been thinking and the one that came to mind first without reading the comments was Thomas Edison.Lights and music. I love the reference to Scotty. Include Geordi, Spock, and Data with those too. I’m a Trekker and I can think about a lot of those characters but Edison and Franklin are the two that came to mind when I read the question. Love your books Karen and am looking forward to this one.

  48. Once I read your question, the very first person that popped into my mind was Thomas Edison. If I had a second, it would be Benjamin Franklin. There are so many things that I seem take for granted, lights and electricity are a couple of them. I don’t seem to realize how important it is, or how much I rely on it, until we lose power.
    Thanks for the opportunity! Your new book sounds very interesting!

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