Cover Reveal, Free Gift, & Valentine Sale

Happy Valentine’s Week!!
The time for romance, gifts, and love stories.

One of my favorite experiences as an author is seeing my cover for the first time. It’s terrifying and exciting all rolled into one. Such anticipation! Well, I’m excited to reveal my next cover. Talk about romantic! The designers did such a fabulous job giving this cover an incredibly unique yet timelessly romantic feel.

The Kissing Tree is a novella collection by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Nicole Deese and Amanda Dykes that spans roughly 150 years. Each of the four stories takes place in Oak Springs, Texas, centering around a particular sprawling live oak whose trunk and branches have been carved over the centuries with couples’ initials. It is the keeper of a thousand stories, and this book showcases four of them: one in the mid-1800’s, one in the late-1800’s, one during World War II, and one in present day. It releases this fall, and should be up for pre-order in just a few short weeks!

The tree we used as a model for our Kissing Tree is a real tree with it’s own romantic heritage on the Texas A&M university campus. The Century Tree. Isn’t it gorgeous? This tree is the site of many a romantic marriage proposal to this day.

Our Free Gift to You

We loved what the Bethany House designers did with the cover, and they were so kind to work with us to cook up these beautiful designs for you to use as either a wallpaper for your phone or a background image for your computer. They utilized many of those lovely cover elements—the embossed backgrounds, those lush leaves, and a Bible verse that encompasses the deepest love of all. A reminder that you are beloved and cherished!

Use these links below and the download button you’ll see near the top of the screen to claim your free gift:

Phone background/wallpaper: https://tinyurl.com/w55addw

Computer desktop background: https://tinyurl.com/tnkerxt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sale Price on Another Great Valentine Read

Since The Kissing Tree won’t be available until fall, I thought I would offer another sweet, western romance read for your Valentine reading pleasure. The first book in my Patchwork Family series, More Than Meets the Eye (ebook) is on sale for only $0.99 starting today! Love, adventure, cowboys, and a pet hog. What could be more fun?

When her family is threatened, falling in love may be her best defense.

“More Than Meets the Eye captured my heart from the start. This story is easily the best Inspirational romance I have read in years, if not the best Inspirational romance I have ever read.”  ~ All About Romance

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If you were to give yourself a gift for Valentine’s Day this year, what would choose?

Reading Challenge for 2020

I’ve been a book lover my entire life. Yet over the last decade or so, I’ve found that I am reading less and less. With a day job, writing full time, and family/church responsibilities, time is at a premium. Yet I don’t want to lose the pleasure of discovering new characters and adventures inside the covers of unexplored tomes. So I’ve started looking for new motivations to help me keep reading a priority. Last year, I attempted to keep a list of all the books I had read. I think I lost track somewhere around fall, but I did find satisfaction in seeing over 20 books on my list before I stopped keeping count. I know that’s small potatoes for many of you, but it was encouraging to me.

This year I’m going to try something with a little more accountability and hopefully a lot of fun. Inspired by many fun reading challenges circulating around social media, I decided to create one for my Facebook group – The Posse. I asked for their input in coming up with the categories, and nearly all the ones you see on my list are iterations of their suggestions. Here’s what we came up with . . .

We tried to create a list with a lot of flexibility to allow for personal taste and interest while still giving us the motivation to try something new or perhaps stretch our literary comfort zone just a bit.

You don’t have to be a Posse member to use this reading challenge, but if you want to participate with other readers and join in the discussion, we’d love to have you! We talk about all kinds of other things, too, including brainstorming ideas for my books. But at the beginning of every month, I’ll be posting the upcoming reading challenge category, and at the end of the month, I’ll create a post where everyone can talk about the book they read, how it fit the category, and what they thought about the story. It’s strictly for fun, so if you need to skip a month or two, that perfectly fine. Just join back in when you can. Personally, I’m hoping to use this as a motivation to read more as well as an accountability piece to keep me going even when life gets busy.

If you’d like to join the Posse and our Reading Challenge – Click Here.

  • Have you ever participated in a Reaching Challenge? Did you enjoy it?
  • Do you have any reading-related book goals for 2020?

Jingle Jangle Shortbread

I enjoy baking, but I rarely make the time for it. Except at Christmas. I still don’t do a lot of baking, but I always make at least a few yummy goodies to have on hand. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without cookies.

Growing up, we would go to my grandparents house for Christmas every year. I have so many wonderful memories of playing games with my cousins, singing carols, playing Skipbo (once I was old enough to join the adult card table – BIG moment in my life – ha!), and finding the delicious treats Grandmother had strategically placed around the house. My favorite was the shortbread hidden under a covered pink glass dish in the living room. It was such a simple cookie. Dry yet sweet. No special flavoring. A simple sheet cut into rectangle fingers. I loved it!

Strangely enough, I never tried baking it myself until about 5 years ago. Now it is a Christmas staple. The perfect cookie to have with hot tea while curling up with a fun Christmas read.

Shortbread Christmas Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat over to 350. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine butter and sugar. Add vanilla. In a medium bow, sift together flour and salt. Add to butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Form dough in your hands and mold into 2 flat disks. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Karen’s tip: Instead of rolling dough out on a floured surface to cut into shapes, since this dough is already dry, it is much better (and easier) to roll the dough onto a piece of wax paper. Lay a piece the plastic wrap you covered the dough in earlier over the top and roll dough between the plastic wrap and wax paper. No additional flour is needed. I do dip my cookie cutters in flour, however, before cutting the dough to prevent sticking.

This year I decided to cut my cookies into cute mini Christmas shapes. These are my guilt-free cookie bites. And they are just adorable!

I sent a batch to my publishing house as a thank you to my publishing team, and I saved a selection in my secret kitchen stash.

If you make these mini cookies, reduce baking time to 15 minutes.

 

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! May you have lots of yummy goodies to enjoy along with great Christmas stories to read.

Click Cover to Order My 2-in-1 Christmas Novella Collection

Serving Up a New Release!

Serving Up Love has released!

It’s release week! Rosalind Kemp’s story is here. Along with three other fabulous tales of love and adventure in Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe Railroad line.

I had so much fun working with my dear friend Regina Jennings on another collection, and having the chance to team up with fabulous authors like Tracie Peterson and Jen Turano was a special treat. Every time I run into Jen at a conference, she and I talk about how we need to work together on a project sometime. Now we have!

Since I received my author copy early, I had the chance to read the other three stories in the collection, and they are all winners. Each story centers around a Harvey House in a different state during a different historical time period. Four very different Harvey Girl heroines, face unique challenges. Everything from floods to railroad corruption to high society scandal to past mistakes that rise to threaten their future, yet each woman tastes love and finds the courage to go back for more.

Like the famous Harvey House pie, Serving Up Love is the perfect dessert to enjoy with a warm cup of coffee or tea on a cool autumn evening.

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Not only has the book arrived, but we are launching in the very setting where my story takes place!

I am so excited to invite you to join me and co-author Regina Jennings in Gainesville, TX for a history-lover’s dream book launch. We will start with a tour of the Santa Fe Depot which is the setting for my novella, More Than a Pretty Face. One of the reasons I chose to set my Harvey Girl story in Gainesville was because their depot and Harvey House were still standing. Before I wrote a single word, I walked the very halls that Rosalind did. I saw the marks of the horseshoe lunch counter embedded in the floor. I saw where the kitchen had been set and climbed the stairs to the private quarters where the Harvey Girls slept. Now, you can too!

Here’s the schedule of events we have planned:

In addition, Regina and I will be raffling off a gift basket of Christmas baking goodies along with a couple of our books. We would love for you to join us! (Gainesville is roughly 70 miles north of Dallas.)

 

Head in the Clouds Special

Not only are we having fun with the Harvey Girls, but one of my older releases, Head in the Clouds is currently on sale for $0.79 – $0.99!

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Since Harvey Houses were famous for their giant slices of pie (they served 1/4 of an entire pie as one slice!), leave a comment about your favorite pie flavor, and I’ll draw 2 names to receive e-book copies of Head in the Clouds.

Game Day with Karen!

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to play a costume game.

Let’s start off with a little candy – eye candy, that is – I thought I’d share this side-by-side photo of Scott Eastwood dressed up as his dad Clint for Halloween back in 2016. This is the first Treat in our Trick or Treat game.

Now for the Trick . . .

Use the graphic below to pick your virtual Halloween costume. Post your costume result in the comments for a chance to win an e-book copy of Full Steam Ahead.

Of all my books, Full Steam Ahead is probably the most suited for Halloween. A mad-scientist, steam-engine-exploding hero and a piratical, mathematical, dagger-wielding heroine. Of course, true to my style, there is nothing remotely spooky about the story, but there is plenty of danger, adventure, and romance.

I will give away 3 e-book copies of Darius and Nicole’s story today, drawn from those who leave a comment.

And since not even my characters can get away without showing up in costume for this game day event, here they are dressed and ready for a good old-fashioned masquerade.

Be sure to enter your costume result in the comments for a chance to win!

Tiny West Texas Town Births an Empire

I love discovering historical tidbits in my own backyard. About a month ago, I discovered just such a find on a trip home from Dallas. I live in Abilene, Texas, and whenever I travel to Dallas, I take I-20. Rarely do I stop along the way since the three-hour trip is not so long as to require a potty break. But on this particular trip home, I decided to stop at the new rest area that they’d built atop Ranger Hill in Eastland County, just east of the small town of Cisco, Texas.

Not only did this rest stop offer necessary refreshment and lovely sidewalks to stretch one’s legs, but they offered a mini museum filled with local historical tidbits. The one I found most fascinating was the tale of a name recognized all over the world – Conrad Hilton.

In 1917, oil was found in nearby Ranger, Texas, setting off an oil boom. The Ranger oilfield, along with other nearby wells, gained international fame by eliminating critical oil shortages during World War I. The town of Ranger and the nearby small town of Cisco were soon overrun with those seeking to make their fortune in oil.

Ranger, TX in the 1920’s at the height of the oil boom.

Before the war broke out, Conrad Hilton had been a successful banker in New Mexico. Raised by a savvy businessman father who ran a mercantile, Conrad grew up with keen mind for finance. He began running his father’s store at the age of 21 but hungered for bigger things. He was elected to the state legislature and served two terms. However, he believed banking to be his calling.

Hilton father’s mercantile in San Antonio, New Mexico.

When war broke out, Conrad Hilton sold his successful bank and joined the military to serve his country. When the war ended, he came home in 1919 ready to start again and searched for a bank to purchase. Unfortunately, no opportunities presented themselves.

Conrad Hilton was 31 when he arrived in Cisco.

He traveled from his home state of New Mexico into Texas along the railway and when he heard of the oil boom in Ranger, he traveled to the nearby town of Cisco determined to buy the first bank he saw. He found one willing to sell, but by the time he pulled the necessary investors together, the owner decided to raise the price. Frustrated, he declared the owner could keep his bank and stormed across the street to a two-story red brick building. The Mobley Hotel. 

Henry Mobley was making a solid profit serving the overflow of oil workers from Ranger. He had 40 beds in his hotel, and he rented them in 8-hour shifts to the crowds of tired workers standing in line in the lobby. Conrad Hilton instantly recognized the worth of such an investment and made Mobley an offer on the spot. Profits were so good in the first year, that Hilton opened the Melba Hotel in Fort Worth and the Waldorf in Dallas.

In 1921, the Ranger oil boom busted, leaving scores of failed businesses and banks in its wake. Hilton’s hotel business continued to thrive, however. By 1923, he owned 5 hotels. By 1930, he was the leading hotelier in the region. He managed to survive the Great Depression and went on to become the king of the hospitality empire.

The Mobley Hotel no longer rents rooms. It now houses the Chamber of Commerce, a community center, and several museums. They did, however, preserve a room in the style of of the 1920’s hotel that was the beginning of Hilton’s empire.

Have you discovered historical tidbits in your backyard that surprised you?

When you travel, what type of place do you like to stay?
Hotel – Bed & Breakfast – Campground – Other?

Big Summer Giveaway #2 – Winner!

The winner of Big Summer Giveaway #2 is . . .

Pearl Elliot

Congratulations, Pearl!

Expect a box of road trip goodies from Amazon this week.

 

Each of the Fillies will be sending your prize books (audio/print/e-book) to you individually, so it will be raining books for a while at your house.

 

Be watching for the next P&P Big Summer Giveaway
on the first Sunday in August.

Want to fell like a kid again? We’ve got exactly what you need.
Stay tuned!

 

A Canadian Castle

I adore castles. They are the stuff of fairy tales. (Even when the real stories behind them are not terribly romantic.) So earlier this summer, when I was taking my daughter to Washington state for a summer internship, we decided to take a couple extra days and explore Victoria, British Columbia. And the first thing I looked for . . . castles!

Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887-1890 for Robert Dunsmuir who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. The castle has one of North America’s finest collections of Victorian residential stained glass windows.

I took far too many pictures to share them all, so I tried to grab a sampling. They have done a fabulous job of restoring the castle rooms with period antiques and mannequins dressed in Victorian clothing, so my history-loving soul was lapping it up. 

It was impossible to get a picture of the entire exterior from the small parking lot surrounding it, so I opted for a corner view that showed off the turret tower.

Here we are looking up the stairwell from the entry way. The paneling was gorgeous!

This one of my favorite Victorian artifacts in the house. This was in the library on the main floor. A book stand with a candle. How easily I pictured myself back in those times working a piece of embroidery while reading a novel. Loved it!

Here is part of the long drawing room. I loved the columns and the gilt work on them. Half was set up as a music room while the other half was more of a place to sit and have tea. (My daughter is obviously thrilled to be in yet another of Mom’s photos. Ha!)

This is one of the Dunsmuir daughters’ bedrooms. I loved the details in the washstand and the moveable stand that would allow her to take tea in bed or work on some correspondence. You can also see some of the stained glass that adorned windows in nearly every room of the family’s portion of the residence. Every set of leaded glass windows sported a unique design.

Here is one of the landings in the stairwell with lovely stained glass.

We finally made it all the way up into the tower and found this intricate mosaic floor. The view was spectacular as well. I can only imagine how much better it would have been when it was surrounded by rolling hills and countryside instead of city buildings.

In contrast to the daughter’s bedroom, this room was reserved for the mistress’s top servant. Notice the sewing machine and silver to polish. She would never sit idle.

This next photo is a bit clever writing that tickled my funny bone. In 1919, the federal government leased the castle and used it as a military hospital for WWI veterans. In 1921, the castle was used as a school – Victoria College. In 1968, it was taken over by the Victoria Conservatory of Music who remained there until 1979. At that point, The Castle Society was allowed to begin work in transforming Craigdarroch into a museum. However, during the 1970’s, while the conservatory was in full swing, the castle played host to many concerts. This tongue-in-cheek article describes one such evening of entertainment. As a writer, I fully enjoyed the clever repartee. 

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Have you ever visited a caste? If so, which one?

Bargain Book Bonus

It’s rare to have a new release go on sale so soon after making its debut, but Zach and Abigail’s story is doing just that. If you haven’t read More Than Words Can Say yet, now’s your chance to get the e-book version for only $1.99! And if you have read it, this would make a wonderful summer gift to email to a friend or family member.

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