Novel Releases Today

Today The Road to Paradise, a novel by Author Karen Barnett releases to the public. The story is part of a series on Vintage National Parks which bring to life President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for protected lands. He is quoted as saying, “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwood, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

Here’s what the book jacket tells us: “An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainer National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden knows too well how awe-inspiring nature can quickly turn deadly. Ford is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its growing crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic Senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.

When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

I’ve reviewed Karen’s first four books— Mistaken–, a book about prohibition in the 1920’s, and the Golden Gate Chronicles, a series centered around the 1906 San Francisco earthquake— Out of the Ruins, Beyond the Ashes, and Through the Shadows—in earlier blogs. Karen’s style and impeccable research combine to give the reader a thoroughly satisfying reading experience.  Available from Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble, and at your favorite bookseller The Road to Paradise is sure to please..

My copy came early. I read the story.  You won’t be disappointed.

Interview with Author Karen Barnett–New Book: Out of the Ruins

 While her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn’t expect, however, is for God’s answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best. 

As they work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now?  

Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?

Today I’m interviewing Karen for an inside look at her new story:  

This book is a different setting from your first novel.  Why did you choose San Francisco? How did you decide which facts to use considering all that has been written about the earthquake?

The idea for Out of the Ruins came to me while I was watching an American Experience documentary about the 1906 earthquake. They included taped interviews with actual survivors, all of whom were children during the time of the disaster. It was their first-hand descriptions that pulled me into the terror of the story. I remember thinking, “What would it feel like to wander through those streets and see the city in flames around you?”

I did careful research into the events surrounding the earthquake and the three days of fires that followed. Though I attempted to stay fairly close to the factual history of the disaster, it was the many personal stories, letters, and journal entries of the time period that tugged at my heart.  

Abby’s struggles are internal, external and eternal.  What was your goal writing that many layers into one protagonist?

My goal is always to make the characters come alive in the hearts of the readers. I find it difficult to connect with flat characters, so I certainly don’t want to write them. With so much happening outside of Abby and Robert’s control (earthquake, fires, evacuations), it was important to make them more than just victims of circumstance. Their inner conflict and growth needed to be every bit as critical in order to balance the chaos going on outside. I think that’s the challenge of writing a story based during a disaster—or any type of high-stakes external conflict—the character needs to be strong enough to carry the story. I hope Abby and Robert accomplish this.

The love story weaves its thread throughout the tale. How did you view Robert King when you began the story and did he live up to your expectations at the end?

When I first began writing Robert’s character, he came on the scene as this cocky, overconfident young doctor with grandiose dreams of making medical history by discovering the cure to cancer. As the story progresses, he finds his feelings for Abby and for his patients have deepened to the point where he needs to surrender his pride and let God be the hero. Does he live up to my expectations? I think I learned through writing his character that heroism is about sacrifice. I’m drawn to heroes who are willing to sacrifice themselves (or their desires) for those they love. And amazingly enough—that’s what Christ did for us!

When I read the novel, I found myself wincing at some of the trial-and-error kind of testing that  Robert and Dr. Gerald Larkspur were forced to use to investigate the effects of x-rays on human tissue. I often felt they were in danger.  Did your research reveal how many lives were affected as early research such as this worked to improve its technique?

I was stunned by the countless stories of doctors, scientists, technicians, and nurses who lost their lives due to their over-exposure to X-ray radiation. I have an early X-ray manual that assured users that the technology was completely safe and harmless. We know better today, but it took many deaths to prove it. I recently read a story of how the doctor who invented the portable fluoroscope showed it off at his little girl’s birthday party, scaring all the partygoers with images of their skeletal hands. Can you imagine that happening today?

While I was writing this book, we lost a young friend to cancer. Every time I stepped inside the children’s hospital, I thought of those doctors and the research they were doing back in the early 1900s. The experiments were dangerous (more so than they understood at the time), but today we have some valid treatments for cancer thanks in part to their sacrifices. We don’t have all the answers yet, but doctors and scientists are still hard at work searching for a cure.

What do you hope your readers will take away from the story?   

I hope readers are reminded that God is always with us—even when we’re trying to run from Him or push Him away. He’s always waiting with tender love, desiring to welcome us back in.

This is book one in a series entitled The Golden Gate Chronicles.  What can your readers expect from you in the future?

Book two, Beyond the Ashes, will be coming out in 2015. In this story, we’ll revisit San Francisco as it’s in the process of rebuilding. We’ll be meeting Robert’s widowed sister Ruby, who comes to the city to put her life back together and finds herself drawn to Robert’s mentor, Dr. Gerald Larkspur. As Gerald begins to show signs of the very disease he’s been fighting to cure, Ruby will be forced to ask herself—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

Anyone you’d care to thank as Out of the Ruins launches this week? 

If you happen to read the acknowledgements in the book, you’ll see I have about a page and a half of people to thank! Two groups jump to the top of the list. First, my family—they make huge sacrifices to allow me to pursue this dream. And second, my critique partners—they continually push me to be the best writer I can possibly be. I have learned so much from each of them.

Special Announcement:

If you live in the Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon and surrounding areas of Oregon, Karen will be signing copies of Out of the Ruins and her other novel, Mistaken, at the Willamette Valley Christian Supply, 916 NW Kings Avenue, Corvallis, Oregon this Saturday, May 3 from 1-3.  Come meet the author and visit this new store.  Hope to see you there! 

Book Pick–By New Author Karen Barnett

One of the greatest benefits I’ve received as a writer is meeting creative people along the journey. Today’s new author, Karen Barnett, holds a special place in my heart because she is one of my critique partners.

She and I met at Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference three years ago  and connected again at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference that same summer. What began as a dialogue about the need for an all-fiction critiquing network saw fruition in January 2012, when His Wordsmiths met for the first time in Albany, Oregon—a centralized location for our group.

 All five members of His Wordsmiths are published authors, but  Mistaken is the first full-length novel from our group. Though I had no part in this novel’s creation, I’ve read it, and have seen Karen’s work in our weekly meetings. She is a devoted and conscientious author who writes with a keen sense of story.

I asked Karen to join me for this blog and share with you some of the history of Mistaken, which released earlier this week.

Tell us a little about the story:

Since Prohibition has 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 rum-running gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. The new federal agent, Samuel Brown, might be more to her standards—or he might be her worst nightmare.

Why did you choose the 1920s?

I chose the 1920s for several reasons. It was a time of great conflict and division in our nation. People were healing from the horrors of WWI and at the same time, struggling with the laws of Prohibition. You combine that with the fun styles, music, and cool vintage cars, and it’s the perfect time for great stories. Plus, so much has been written about the 1880s in America, I thought it would be fun to take a look at another era.

Not everyone will know the setting of Port Angeles. Tell us why you chose this area.

Port Angeles is located on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula. The city is nestled between the Olympic Mountains and the coastline. I have family roots in that area, so I’ve been there many times. I remember standing on the beach as a kid and looking across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada. It’s only about 20 miles away—a rumrunner’s dream.

What do you hope readers take away from your story? 

I had no desire to write a fairy-tale, happily-ever-after type of romance novel. Though I enjoy a good love story, I think many books and movies portray a false idea about romance, suggesting we should be searching for the perfect soul mate who will never disappoint us. Scripture, on the other hand, teaches that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). I wanted to write a story about deeply flawed people who learn to love each other, despite their failings.   

So what’s ahead?

I recently signed a contract with Abingdon Press to write a three-book series set in 1906 San Francisco. The first book, Out of the Ruins, will release in May of 2014. When Abby Fischer prays for a miracle healing for her dying sister, she never expects the answer to arrive in the form of Robert King, a handsome young doctor with big ideas about X-ray technology. 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?

Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

Where do I start? For me, the obvious answer would have to be my husband. He’s been my main encourager, cheerleader, and prayer warrior. He also rarely complains—even when the house is a disaster or I ask him to pick up pizza on his way home. He often takes our kids on weekend outings so I can have writing time, and has been a huge support when I’m panicking about deadlines or questioning my own talents.

The Christian writing community also deserves much of the credit. I’ve been to several fantastic writing conferences—Mount Hermon, Oregon Christian Writers (OCW), and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). At these conferences, I’ve taken workshops on writing, found mentors, talked with editors and agents, and made countless friends.

Mistaken is available from Amazon and and your local retailer. Order it today. You won’t be disappointed.