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20 April 2011

Meet Karen Baney--Author of A Dream Unfolding

Today's host: April Gardner

Karen Baney is up today, and we're so pleased to have her! Karen wrote A Dream Unfolding, which is this Clash's "Excerpt B."

“Gunshot wound!”
Hannah sighed at the tense sound of her husband’s voice filtering down the hall from the parlor to the kitchen.


Having one pursuit never seems to be enough for Karen Baney. She spends her days working as a Software Engineer and her evenings and weekends writing Christian Fiction.  Her love of business and her creative side are blended into the perfect passion—writing novels.

She makes her home in Gilbert, Arizona, with her husband of eleven years and her two dogs, Max and Ginger.  As she travels throughout the southwest, Karen likes to take thousands of photos, especially of landscapes.  At the end of a busy day, she unwinds by reading a good Christian book.

Karen's Website
Buy A Dream Unfolding


Welcome, Karen! Software Engineer? Sounds fun! And a little daunting. Ann Gaylia O'Barr, our last champion, was a computer programmer. Our inspirational writing world is composed of such a talented group of people!

So, what was your top reading pick from last year?

From A Distance by Tamera Alexander.  I absolutely loved this book.  Tamera did a great job of making photography in the 1880’s come alive.  I’m an avid photographer in my free time, so I really enjoyed how she worked this aspect into the story.  The plot was gripping and the romance was great.

That was my top pick too! The cave scene from the hero's pov was SO romantic. Kudos to Tamara for an excellent read!!

Where do your best book-writing ideas come from?

Some of my best ideas have been inspired by research.  When I first started the research for “A Dream Unfolding,” I did not plan to write about the actual journey to Arizona.  After all, that would involve a ton of research and it was my first book—talk about intimidating.  Then I came across letters written by Jonathan Richmond.  He was one of the original members of the governor’s party as they traveled west to the Arizona Territory.  I was so excited by the wonderful details included in his letters that I had to write about it.  Thus, Hannah and Drew’s thread of the story was born.  And yes, it was a ton of research, but well worth it.

Ah, yes. I'm familiar with the research monster. Can't live with it. Can't live without it! But in the end, it's SO worth it. A well-researched book, with all those pain-stakingly sought after details will shine with authenticity.

On to our theme questions...

When writing the first 500 words of a new book, is there anything in particular you make sure to include? Dialogue? Action? Humor? An amazing first line? Plenty of white space?

I think it’s important to write the first 500 words in a way that gets readers to immediately identify a main character.  The first line or paragraph has to grab the reader’s attention.  But, it’s the connection with the character that will pull them forward into the story.  Dialogue and action are just tools to foster that connection.  As a reader, I want to feel that character’s plight.  So, as a writer, that’s the question I ask over and over as I write and rewrite the opening chapter.

Of course, having a killer first line is always good.  “Gunshot wound!” – I mean who wouldn’t want to read a little bit more to found out what’s happening?

In the first 500 words, do you prefer to construct the novel’s setting or plop the reader into the middle of the action and build the setting later?

I like to do some of both.  I like to have some action or conflict immediately.  The opening doesn’t necessarily have to be action packed if it develops a good conflict.  Conflict is the engine that moves the story forward, so having a solid conflict with strong characters at the beginning of the book, helps to engage the reader quickly.

Now, Karen has a question for you, COTT reader. Remember, that you can continue to enter to win a copy of this great book. For every Facebook or Twitter post about COTT (limited to 1/day) you earn 1 entry into the drawing. Leaving a comment on any blog post works too.

Karen's question to Readers:
What is something you would like to see more of in Christian Fiction?

Just for fun, if you haven't had a chance yet, head over to last Wednesday post to answer our one-question survey.

Come back Friday to find out which of our two authors won this month's first Hook Clash!

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April Gardner said... Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

Welcome, Karen!

To answer your question, I'd like to see more true historical fiction, not just romances set in the past, but fiction that teaches about history. That's my passion!

Karen said... Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

My favorite historicals are ones that have a lot of accurate history, too. In "A Dream Unfolding" I did a ton of research about everything from jobs that a woman might have in the West in the 1860's to general attitudes to key political issues. I think it's important to capture the essence of the time. That's one of the things I feel I've accomplished in "A Dream Unfolding".

One of the things I want to see more of, is realistic characters that face real temptations. I think it's hard enough to walk out our faith without having pressure to be perfect. I know the mistakes I've made in my life and have learned from them. I think my characters should have a few mistakes, too.

Christine Lindsay said... Thursday, 21 April, 2011

That's what I love too, a great historical story that not only takes me away to that era, but a story in which I can learn something. Not get bogged down by details, but enough to make it come alive and teach me something. Great posting, and wishing you God's blessing on this new book of yours, Karen.

Karen said... Thursday, 21 April, 2011

Thanks Christine. I think you would really enjoy "A Dream Unfolding," because I tried very hard to get enough historical detail, but allow the reader freedom to imagine.

Item Reviewed: Meet Karen Baney--Author of A Dream Unfolding Rating: 5 Reviewed By: April Gardner