Sunday, February 2, 2014

3-Year Blogoversary Party ~ Interview with Karen Barnett and Giveaway!


Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Karen! Thanks for celebrating my blog's 3-Year Blogoversary with us! Will you tell us a little about yourself?

I’d love to, Melanie. My husband Steve and I live in Oregon with our two kids (ages 14 and 11). I write historical romance and romantic suspense, usually set during the early part of the twentieth century. Before I became a mom and a writer, I worked as a park ranger in both national and state parks.

What is your novel, Mistaken, about?

Mistaken is a 1920s-era romantic suspense set in the rugged beauty of Washington State. Since booze and Prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother’s rumrunning gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. Federal agent Samuel Brown might be more to her liking—or he might be her worst nightmare.

What was your favorite part about writing Mistaken? What was the hardest?

My favorite part was researching life in the 1920s. Hair, clothing, automobiles, technology, music, pastimes, movies—there was so much fun stuff to discover. And then there were specific details to the plot: Prohibition law, rumrunning, telephone switchboards, old-time pharmacy—fascinating! Learning new things always makes me a little giddy. And researching soda fountains? Yum! 

Of course, this also led to the hardest part of writing Mistaken, as well—the fear of getting the details wrong. There were areas I had to rely on my imagination to fill in the details, and I’m still fretting over the possibility of mistakes. 

What is something the average reader wouldn't know about you?



I’m a serious Whovian. No, not one of the little characters from The Grinch—a fan of the science fiction classic, Doctor Who.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I bribe myself with peanut M&Ms when I’m struggling through a difficult section. One for every 100 words.

Where do you like to write?

I write just about anywhere. I sit at my kitchen table, on the sofa in the living room, cross-legged on the bed, in coffee shops… right now, I’m writing this in my car as I wait for my kids to get out of school.

When you are writing a book, do you just write as you go or do you have a set outline for the novel?

I’m not a very good outliner, I’m afraid. I do write a synopsis to help provide framework and direction, but I allow the characters room to be themselves and to make some of their own decisions. That probably sounds odd to a non-writer…

What is the best and/or worst part about being a writer?

The best part of writing is watching the characters change and develop throughout the story. The worst part is fighting off the anxiety that people might not like what I’ve written.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I hate to admit it, but I’m a bit of television junkie. Netflix has been very bad for me—all those amazing series right at my fingertips. I’m on a BBC kick right now. Outside of that, I enjoy hiking, dragging my kids through museums, and cake decorating.

What is your favorite genre to read and why?

My favorite genre has always been historical and historical romance. I love getting lost in different time periods and exploring how people lived and acted in that era.

Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet?

There are so many, do I have to choose one? Alaska has always been on my next-to-see list. I live in awe of rugged landscapes and I think Alaska may ruin me for all other locations. I’d also love to go to northern Europe—particularly Ireland, Scotland, England, and Germany. I dream of exploring castles, old churches, and quaint little thatched-roofed cottages.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

God has used Ephesians 3:20-21 in my life frequently as a reminder to dream big and to pray bigger, because He is far more powerful and good than I can grasp. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”


Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?

I have so many favorites, it would be impossible to choose. One song that’s spoken to me throughout my writing career is “Word of God, Speak” by MercyMe. When I first started writing, I would play this song every time as I sat down to work. It was a good reminder that I wanted God’s message to shine through the story—my words didn’t matter. I found that freeing. Plus, every time they sang, “I’m finding myself at a loss for words…”, it made me chuckle. And then I could sit back and let His words fall down “like rain.”

What's your favorite season and why is it your fav?

I love fall. Here in Oregon, we have rainy and overcast weather for much of the year and then in late June the faucet turns off and the skies clear. We have three months of stunning, beautiful weather. You’d think summer would be my favorite, right? But by the end of summer, everything is dry and boring, and I can’t wait for fall. The first rain cleans the air and turns everything fresh and green. I love it!

What's your favorite party food? 

I like to decorate silly birthday cakes for my kids. Does that count?

Some this-or-that questions:

Snowstorms or Thunderstorms?  Hmm. Both.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate!!!
Tea or Coffee? Coffee (with lots of milk & sugar)
Call or Text? Definitely text. I hate talking on telephones.
Cats or Dogs? This shifted two years ago when we got our first dog. I didn’t think I liked them that much before. Now I’m firmly in the dog camp.
Early-bird or Night-owl? Night-owl.
Introvert or Extrovert? Introvert.
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook.

Are you currently working on any new novels? If so, would you give us a hint?

Of course! I’m working on a three-book historical romance series, The Golden Gate Chronicles, set in 1906 San Francisco. The first novel, Out of the Ruins, releases in May. When Abby Fischer prays for a miracle healing for her dying sister, she doesn’t expect it to come in the form of the handsome doctor, Robert King. But when Robert's miracle cure fails, Abby’s grief is surpassed only by the chaos of the San Francisco earthquake and fires. Will Abby finally find God—and love—in the ruins?

Thank you so much for being here! Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers and where can we find you on the web?

Thanks for having me, Melanie. What a fun interview! I love connecting with readers, so I hope they will look me up online. Here are some of the ways we can stay in touch:

I mentioned how much I enjoy discovering new time periods through research and through fiction. What’s your favorite time period to read about? Modern day or back in history? If it’s history, which eras do you prefer?

Blessings!
Karen Barnett


Karen is giving away a copy of her book Mistaken: First Impressions Are Never What They Seem! I loved this book! Giveaway is only open to US and Canada addresses. Ends 2/15

How to enter: Sign into the Giveaway Tools form below (it might take a moment to load) and submit each entry you complete. The mandatory entry is to leave a comment answering Karen's question (above), but commenting alone will not get you entered – you must click enter on the form for your entry to count. Happy entering!


Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Giveaway Tools and announced here as well as emailed and will have up to one week to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Giveaway Tools or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. I am not responsible for any packages lost or damaged in the mail. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

71 comments:

  1. Another fantastic interview! There were so many things you said, Karen, that are totally me too! If I was a writer researching would totally be my favorite too since I love learning more about history! I'm also a Whovian, fall lover, texter, night-owl, and introvert! I also really want to visit those countries you mentioned!
    As for favorite time-period to read about, I do like pretty much all time periods but my favorite is the first half of the 20th century especially WWII! Your books sounds SO good and I have heard lots of good things about it!

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    1. I love WWII fiction, too, Abbi. Have you read Sarah Sundin's novels? She's one of my all-time favorite authors.

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    2. Yes! They are so amazing and she's one of my favs too! I can and have gushed for days about the awesomeness of her novels and I cannot wait to read In Perfect Time!

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  2. Wow, Karen and Melanie - this is a great interview! I feel like we have a lot in common, Karen. :) I, too, love historical romance, letting the characters guide the writing process, fall, and chocolate. I prefer texting because I don't like talking on the phone much, either, and I am most definitely a night owl and an introvert! And how incredibly cool that worked as a park ranger - I've been really, really interested in doing that, as I love history and the area in which I live (among the redwoods of Northern California). May I ask how you got started in that line of work?

    As for your question, I love the 19th century American West, and it's the setting for the series I'm currently writing. But I do enjoy some contemporaries, fantasies, pirate stories, and other historical eras. I loved Mistaken, which I read and reviewed via NetGalley, and I'd love a chance to win a paperback copy! Thank you!

    ~Amber

    amberstokes[at]corban[dot]edu

    P.S. Happy blogoversary, Melanie!! :)

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    1. I started park work back in college by applying to work at a local wildlife park during their busy summer season. It was good training in both wildlife studies and for visitor services. The National Park Service is tough to break into, but I've known a few people who made the transition from working at state parks or from volunteer positions. I loved working in the parks!

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    2. Also, Amber--I love the redwoods. The Mount Hermon Writers Conference takes place in that area, and I've walked many of the trails at the conference center. I sense those forests aren't very old, though, and I'd like to explore some more of the area. I'm going to add that to my "must-do" list.

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    3. Thank you very much for the info! Sounds like something to consider looking into as a summer job. :) We have a lot of parks around here!

      And aren't the redwoods amazing? The Mount Hermon area is quite a bit farther south than we are. You should definitely head up north a ways and check out spots like the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Avenue of the Giants, Trees of Mystery, etc. There are so many gorgeous spots. :) Hope you get a chance to visit sometime!

      ~Amber

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  3. Thanks for the interview. this is a new to me author and I am now wanting to read her books.

    wwchildren at gmail dot com

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  4. I really enjoy historical - to the extent that I find myself turning to reference books to read more about the events and periods that take place in the "fiction" I am currently reading. Most periods appeal to me with the exception of the medieval time frame. For some reason, most stories I have read in that time period seem to be a bit too fairy tale in essence. I do enjoy reading historical accounts from then, though.

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    1. Vera, I love that stories inspire you to go learn more about the time periods. I often read history in order to seek out interesting stories.

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  5. Fun interview! This sounds like a great book. :)

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  6. Melanie, I enjoyed your post. I think I prefer 1800's to mid 1900's best but lately I have been reading a mix of all time periods and finding something I like in most of them.
    I enjoyed the post and your book Mistaken looks wonderful.
    Thank You
    mcnuttjem0(at)gmail(dot)com

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  7. I definitely prefer historic fiction. Which era? Now that's hard to say... I enjoy so many! I think the only time period I really don't enjoy reading fiction books about is Biblical times.

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    1. Hi Aerykah! I usually avoid Biblical fiction, too, but I recently started reading The Well by Stephanie Landsem. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but I'm loving it.

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  8. I love historicals best, western America 1800's and Regency are my favorite eras.

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    1. Heidi, I enjoy Regency, too. Have you read any of Julie Klassen's books? Great stuff!

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  9. You have a wonderful blog- it's one of my must-reads! Happy blogiversary! Keep up the fabulous job!

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  10. Happy blogoversary, Melanie! And thanks for yet another great interview. I like to read about a mix of time periods though right now I've been reading a lot of modern set books.

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    1. Contemporary fiction is gaining in popularity again. I like how tastes change over time--it keeps everything fresh.

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  11. I love it when historicals are combined with my other favorite genre suspense, it sounds like Mistaken combines the two and I can't wait to read it! :)
    I love a lot of different eras, but my favorite would probably be anything from mid-1800s through the end of World War One!

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    1. It's funny, Caitlyn, when I was writing Mistaken, I didn't think of it as suspense. I thought I was writing historical romance. Someone else had to point it out to me. It sure was a fun book to write! My upcoming series is historical romance, but when I'm finished with it, I might take another crack at writing a historical/romantic suspense.

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  12. My favorite time period to read about is the Renaissance but I also like to read about World War II since my parents lived through it. But I would love to read the book you are working on - Out of the Ruins - about 1906 San Francisco since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and grew up here.

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    1. Emi, I don't think I've read much from the Renaissance. Do you have favorite authors who write that time period?

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  13. Awesome interview! I love reading about early 1900's. I find the history of that time facinating! Thank you for the chance to win this book! mommiebethers{at}gmail{dot}com

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    1. Isn't it a fascinating time period? So much technological change, so quickly. Kind of like today. :)

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  14. I have several time periods that I enjoy. The Civil War era, post Civil War, Pioneer era, and Contemporary.

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    1. I haven't read any Civil War books in a while, but I have a few of Jocelyn Green's novels waiting on my kindle. I can't wait!

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  15. I like to read all time periods, but my favorite is the 1800s.
    Happy blogoversary!
    susanmsj at msn dot com

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    1. Hi Susan! I like 1800s also, especially Oregon Trail types of stories. I was a big Little House fan as a girl.

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  16. Thanks for the interview ladies! I mostly read historical fiction. Mostly American and if I had to choose a time period I would say mid to late1800's.

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  17. I love history. Love books written during the Pioneer days of American history.
    koho onefourthree (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    1. Pioneer stories fascinate me too, Heather. People were so strong in that era. When I was a kid, I used to dream of homesteading and such... now I think I'd never survive. :)

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  18. I love to read about the Civil War and WWII, but the stories of our fallen heroes always make me cry. This novel looks really interesting.

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    1. Kandra, yes! War stories can be heart-breaking at times. I've toyed with the idea of writing about WWI, but I haven't attempted it yet. I'm not sure if I could handle the grim nature of the battles.

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  19. I did not not like Historical but one day I read one and was hooked. I love the 1800's the best I think. I will pretty much read anything historical now I can get my hands on.
    Tammy Hudson
    HUBTIVOLI1@YAHOO.COM

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    1. Wow, Tammy! It makes me wonder--what book won you over? There are so many wonderful historical novels out there. :)

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  20. I have not read any of her books. So I'd like to win one, read it and share it.
    jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

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  21. I've enjoyed more modern than historical in the past but the historical books I have enjoyed have been set in the 1800's and Western or have been Depression-Era. I have a fondness for 40's-50's. :) 20's and 30's come in a close third.

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  22. I love the pioneer days and the victorian age.

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  23. My husband is from Washington so books about there always interest me, but for it to be set in the 1920s as well really interests me! Sounds like a great novel! :)

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  24. I love the Pioneer days and late 1800's and early 1900's. and, would like to win Karen's book.I don't have a book by her. She is new to me. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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  25. GREAT interview! I personally love to read Historical settings.......mainly the Civil War, 1800's eras.....this book sounds great! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

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  26. I like both modern and historical books. Doesn't matter to me as long as the story pulls me in.

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  27. I love historical fiction; Regency England, American pioneers, WW II are a few favorite time periods.

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  28. History. Let's see an era?! Hmmmm... Oh there are too many to list! :) I like a lot! Come to think of it I like some modern day books to! LOL! I agree with Amy as long as the book description intrigues me and the book draws me in I'm good! :D

    Blessings, Amada

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  29. I read everything, although I prefer Modern day settings. My favorite historical period is around WWII.

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  30. That's a tough question! I read so many different things ~ my favorite time periods would have to be WW2, Dark Ages, and the Wild West in the 1800s. Thanks for the fun!

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  31. I really like historical, and the time period of the 1800's in the old west.

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  32. I have been reading many different types of books but Amish is my favorite.

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  33. I love historical time periods ranging from 1700s to 1800s.

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  34. **What’s your favourite time period to read about? Modern day or back in history? If it’s history, which eras do you prefer?
    I prefer times past - Regency era especially such as Jane Austen.

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  35. I think it depends on my mood. Sometimes historical like westerns or modern. I love to read period.

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  36. thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel ;)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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  37. My favorite time period for reading a book would be from the Civil War to modern day. I especially enjoy reading mysteries.

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  38. I like some Historic period times in fiction 20's -60's Linda White frogz60@hotmail.com

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  39. My favorite time period to read about is historical. Of course, history repeats itself if humanity would only learn from the past.

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  40. My favorite time period in literature is the 19th century American West and the 40s & 50s.

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  41. modern day! a_stonecipher@yahoo.com

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  42. My favorite time period is either Old West or WWII, but I like pretty much anything after 1830 or so. :)

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  43. I like to read about the war years, WWII.

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  44. Sounds so interesting! I have not read anything by Karen yet, but sounds like I should! :)

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  45. Loved this interview! Thanks so much for the opportunity! Sounds like such a fun read!

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  46. I love reading historical fiction, mostly set in the Regency era, but love Middle Ages and early 20th century! Thanks so much for this opportunity. It sounds like such a fun read!

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  47. I like both time periods - though I'm not a huge fan of ancient history - late middle ages and up are preferable.

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  48. Either 1500's through 1800's or ancient Greece/Rome/Egypt. I really enjoyed reading the interview. The questions were interesting and it was fun getting to know Karen better!

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Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8