Tell us about your book.
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.
Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.
Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?
What inspired this book?
As a diehard romantic, I have to admit that I adore the sappy old Hollywood musicals, and my all-time favorite is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I adore the western setting, the rough and tumble men, and the marriage of convenience story. In fact, it's this very musical that served as the inspiration for Short-Straw Bride.
My story has four brothers instead of seven, and the men don’t sing and dance while they do their chores. However the spark came when I thought about this movie and then asked, what if? What if instead of having the heroine agree to a marriage of convenience at the beginning of the story, the brothers drew straws to see who would marry her when a good deed of hers goes awry? And what if instead of all the brothers being named in alphabetical order after Bible characters, my four brothers were named for heroes from the Alamo?
From there, the Archer clan was born—Travis, Crockett, Bowie (who only answers to Jim), and Neill. And when Meredith infiltrates their isolated ranch, these bachelors are never the same.
How long have you been writing?
2003 was the year I first picked up a pen with the intent to write for publication. And it really was a pen. My children were all still preschool age, and I didn't have a laptop, so I wrote in a spiral notebook while I tried to keep an eye on my three little munchkins. Later that year, due to financial challenges, I ended up going back to work and turned the daytime child care over to my mother-in-law. I mourned the time with my kids, but I flourished under the scheduled life that gave me time to hone my writing craft. I started with shorter pieces and worked my way up to novel-length fiction. I signed my first contract in January 2009 with Bethany House for a 3-book deal. Thankfully, the kids are all in school now and busy with their own activities so when mom is facing a deadline, they know how to entertain themselves.
Tell us something silly about you.
I once ate a live frog. Well . . . it was on accident and I didn't actually swallow. He just jumped in, set me to shrieking, then jumped out. Quite traumatic for a 10 year old. I doubt I'll ever be a fan of frog legs.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
There is power in community. God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to carry each other's burdens, and to be people of hospitality. However, we live in a dangerous world, and often we choose to protect ourselves through isolation. We might smile and say hello, but we don't welcome people into our homes. Even in our churches, we tend to keep relationships on a surface level, not wanting anyone to get too close. They might see our faults, hurt us, or ask more of us than we are ready to give. But there is power in community. God designed us to lean on one another. To confess to one another. To draw strength and encouragement from one another. How can we love our neighbors if we wall ourselves off from them?
Travis has to learn to tear down his physical barriers as well as his emotional ones. He must surrender his control to God and trust others with burdens he's never allowed anyone but himself carry. It is a grueling journey, but in the end, the rewards of love and fellowship far outweigh the hardship of the struggle.
What is your favorite season?
Spring, by far. Summer is just too hot in Texas. In spring, the warmer temperatures lure me outdoors (which is quite a feat seeing as I'm naturally an indoor-loving bookworm). I adore all the wildflowers. Every year in late March and early April, I scan the roadsides for the first bluebonnets of the year. Once I spot them, I know spring has truly arrived.
What project are you currently working on?
My editor has always preferred that I write stand alone novels instead of series. However, after falling in love with the Archer brothers, she agreed to let me write a second Archer story. This one follows Crockett to a new setting and a new adventure.
On his way to interview for a preaching position, Crockett Archer is abducted from his train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as a birthday gift. Joanna Robbins needs a preacher to fulfill a promise made to her mother, but how will she ever convince Crockett to stay and secretly help her win the soul of the very man who kidnapped him?
The working title is Stealing the Parson. It should release late spring/early summer 2013.
Where is your favorite place to vacation?
I love to hike anywhere there are mountains and waterfalls. Yosemite is one of my favorite spots on earth. I haven't been there for years, but I'm hoping we can take the kids there sometime soon. We're doing Disneyland this year, so maybe in 2014.
What are your hobbies (besides writing)?
I really enjoy cross-stitching. My best friend in high school got me hooked, and I've been stitching ever since. I don't have as much time for it now as I used to, but when my schedule slows down enough, I really enjoy plying the needle to make artwork for my home. At Christmastime, you almost can't escape it in my house. Cross-stitch stockings, ornaments, tree skirt, wall hangings. It's a little out of hand. But I love it!
Karen has offered to give away one copy of Short-Straw Bride. At least 10 people need to leave a comment WITH an email address OR email me at email@example.com and put "contest-straw" in the subject line. Winner announced June 10th.