Historical Books: A Dream Unfolding, A Heart Renewed, A Life Restored, A Hope Revealed; and Contemporary: Nickels
Be sure and looked at the links for her books and blog. Her blog/website pages are a diamond mine for writers!
Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical and contemporary fiction novels, works as a Software Engineer. Spending over twenty years as an avid fan of the genre, Karen loves writing about territorial Arizona.
Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing. She is active in various Bible studies throughout the year. Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.
Pain. Disappointment. Fear.
Life turned out differently than Mary Colter expected. With her abusive husband either missing or dead, and the ranch gone, she is left to raise her two children on her own. When a neighbor takes compassion on her, she finds her hope ignited—perhaps she can start over on her brother-in-law’s ranch in Arizona.
Warren Cahill is confronted with one problem after another in his new role as foreman of Colter Ranch. Missing cattle and hot-headed cowhands take most of his attention. When Mary arrives at the ranch, tensions rise and he finds himself in the middle of it.
Will Mary’s hope for a life free from abuse finally be realized? Can Warren move beyond his past to embrace a new hope?
1. How many published books do you have?
I have 5 novels published. Four are part of the Prescott Pioneers Series set in the Arizona Territory in the mid-1860s: A Dream Unfolding, A Heart Renewed, A Life Restored, and the latest release, A Hope Revealed. The series follows the Andersons, Colters, and Larsons as they move westward to a new life. Each book introduces new characters and their trials while continuing the story of favorites from the first book.
2. Tell me about how you work to inspire readers in their faith journey.
I believe everyone has hidden heartache—it just looks different for different people. Some struggle with recovering from abuse. Others have lost someone dear. For others, it may be a case of dreams lost. Regardless, God is there to pick us up and carry us through those times. I strive to make my characters mirror this truth in a way that is relatable. The best emails I receive are ones from fans that say they learned something about themselves or God from reading one of my novels.
3. Years ago when I first studied fiction writing I learned trouble and hardship show a person’s true character; and fiction can’t be stranger than real life. Give me an example of how one of your characters was shaped by his or her experiences.
I think the character who undergoes the most extreme transformation in the Prescott Pioneers Series, is Thomas Anderson. As a young man, he was rebellious and got into a lot of trouble – to the point of robbing a bank. When he finally arrives in Arizona, he is confronted with the ugliness of who he is and he wants to be someone better. That desire to be a better man came from learning a few lessons from his rebelliousness and from experiencing a few twists of fate (Providence).
4. Who is one of your characters you can’t forget? Why does he or she stick in your memory?
It’s really hard to pick just one favorite. I love so many of them. I think Mary Colter is one of the top favorites though. After having a great childhood, she married Reuben. He turned out so differently than she expected and she suffered a great deal under his harshness. Fear defined her in the brief glimpses we see of her in A Dream Unfolding and A Heart Renewed. Yet, in A Hope Revealed, we learn that she is a strong woman who loves her children very much. She puts their safety above any other. It leads her to make a mistake that could cost Will Colter’s family everything. My heart breaks for her. By the second chapter, I’m rooting for her to break free and experience happiness and joy.
5. I understand a portion of the proceeds from your books goes to the Homes of Hope in Fiji. I have missionary friends who helped establish a Project Rescue Home of Hope in Delhi, India. If I remember right, rescued women help run the place for orphaned children and adolescents who were forced to be sexual slaves in the human trafficking market. Have you seen these rescue homes you support? Do they work with women or the kidnapped children?
Homes of Hope in Fiji is dedicated to rescuing women from the sex slave industry. They also educate young men and women about the value of a woman. I have never had the opportunity to travel to their village, but I have met a few of the women who have made the journey to our hometown to share about how their lives have been transformed. Their stories are amazing. One of the things I love the most about Homes of Hope Fiji is that they don’t just rescue women by providing a safe home, but they also teach them new skills and help restore their emotional and spiritual well-being. You can learn more about their organization on their website: http://www.hopefiji.org/
6. You not only are a prolific writer, but you also have some great helps on your blog/website for writers who are marketing their work. What is the most important thing you believe a writer should do to get the word out about a book?
Marketing, marketing, marketing. Don’t worry, I cringe over the word too. The key is to break down different marketing activities in to smaller, less time consuming chunks. Something like twitter or facebook can be done in short chunks of time. I also send out a newsletter on an irregular schedule – mostly to announce new releases. One of the most often overlooked areas of marketing is face-to-face contact. When people ask what I do, I tend to talk more about my career as an author rather than my other career. If they show interest, then I’ll tell them more about my books and give them a business card with my website, twitter, etc. Word of mouth is huge.
7. When you talk about writing a novel and making it true to the era in which the story occurs, you speak of a characters “mindset,” language, but also about the necessary research to learn the technology available for that time in history. Even a water pump in the kitchen was a great advance when it was invented, but when you bring up the “meat-juice press,” I was totally yucked out. Was the meat cooked before juicing? What other piece of early kitchen equipment fascinated you?
I love the meat juice press! I think it’s because I actually got to see one in person. (Yes, they did cook the meat first, most of the time). When I travel around the state of Arizona and visit museums, I like to take my camera with me so I can take pictures of the unusual things I find. If I can’t figure out what the item was used for while at the museum, then I try to find out from other sources (internet, books). I think the meat juice press is the coolest thing I’ve found to date. It’s so foreign from something we’d use today.
8. Are the majority of your books historical? Do you have a favorite genre or era?
All of them, except Nickels, are historical. The next series I’m planning will continue in Prescott, Arizona a few years after the end of the Prescott Pioneers Series.
So, I’m a history geek. I like pretty much anything historical from 1860’s through WWII. When I first started researching about Prescott, I was so excited the political aspect of how the town was formed. I also love the modern town of Prescott, even though I only get to visit periodically. I hadn’t intended to write westerns, but that era and location fits the western mold – so I’m really enjoying writing westerns!
9. How do you entwine the spiritual element of your novels? How do you introduce scripture? What is your favorite scripture?
Each novel is different. I always try to introduce spiritual elements that fit the character. For example, Betty Lancaster is in her early 50’s and very devout. So, it would make sense that she would wake up in the middle of the night prompted to pray for someone. For other characters, just sitting and listening to a sermon is a challenge, so they may be more influenced by a friend instead of directly by scripture. I think when we keep the character and their point of view in mind, the spiritual aspects can flow naturally.
As far as my favorite scripture, I don’t have one, though I’ve found that I end up with different theme verses in different seasons of my life—ones that stand out so much that I either memorize them or the Holy Spirit reminds me of them over and over again.
10. How often do you write and how do you conclude each writing session?
Because I have to balance writing with another full time career outside of the home, I tend to write in the evenings and on the weekends. Typically, I won’t write for more than an hour or two in the evening. My biggest writing sessions tend to be on Saturday mornings when my hubby is hanging out with his friends. Since I’m squeezing writing in where I can, I don’t always have the luxury of ending a session at the end of a scene or a chapter. In a typical week (after the bulk of my research is finished), I tend to write between 10 – 15 hours a week and market between 1 – 2 hours a week.
11. What is your ultimate goal?
I just want to keep writing. Whether it means working around another job or not, I want to write. I have so many stories in mind and can never seem to get them from my brain to the computer fast enough.
For more information about my books, please visit my website: http://www.karenbaney.com. I’m also on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Baney-Books/138412459527446) and Twitter (@karen_baney). Authors can find helpful articles and tips on the Writing and Articles pages on my website. I also have more articles for authors on http://www.everythingauthor.com. For fans – check out each of the book pages. They include the book synopsis, links to purchase books, links to reviews, and more.