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Interview with Denise Weimer

Denise Weimer wears two hats in the writing world, those of multi-published author and managing editor at Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Fiction. Both are imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Denise pens historical and contemporary romance and romantic suspense and has a dozen traditionally published novels and several novellas to her credit. Her favorite setting is her home state of Georgia.

Hello, Denise, and welcome! It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Tell us what childhood experiences influenced your desire to write.
Thank you so much for hosting me! I grew up as the only child of parents who immersed me in the classics and also loved history. We traveled all over the Southeast, and the historic towns and buildings we visited made me wonder what type of people once lived there and what their lives were like. I started writing stories in spiral-bound notebooks and reading them to my mom. She encouraged me to keep writing.

What inspires the themes for your novels?
Sometimes, for historicals, the history itself floats a theme to the forefront. Other times, I incorporate common struggles such as forgiveness, faithfulness, or overcoming insecurity or perfectionism. The personalities of the main characters and the challenges they face usually also suggest the theme.

What motivated you to write Bent Tree Bride?
One of my author/editor friends had the idea for a Native Patriots Series where the heroes would all have served in a different American war. I chose the War of 1812 because I’d just written a novel set in the decade prior. The Witness Tree involves a Moravian marriage of convenience and a dangerous assignment in Cherokee Territory c. 1805.

The Moravians are now a mainline denomination, but during the 1700s and early 1800s, they were a lesser-known sect of plain people with some fascinating traditions. How neat, I thought, if one of the boys from the Moravian mission school for the children of Cherokee chiefs could grow up and fight in the Cherokee Regiment during the War of 1812.

Many people have no idea that—in hopes of keeping their land—the Cherokees fought alongside the Americans under Andrew Jackson. For the same reason, many of the Creek Indians allied with the British, becoming known as Red Stick Creeks. Thus, the war for what became Alabama Territory, the Red Stick War, occurred in 1813-14. At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the Cherokee Regiment turned the tide of battle in favor of the Americans.

What take away do you hope readers will find in Bent Tree Bride?
All people, no matter their background or race or gender, need God, and it’s His joy to work through them, even against the currents of history. One incident in the novel that illustrates this so beautifully is actually referenced in the Author’s Note when I mention Charles Hicks, real-life Cherokee chief and the father of my fictional hero. After the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, he walked among the dying—Creek, Cherokee, and white—and testified of Jesus.

How do you weave your faith into your stories?
Some of my novels are strongly faith-driven with redemptive and healing themes, such as my Restoration Trilogy. Others, such as some of my contemporary romances, tend toward clean reads with inspy undertones. So it depends on which approach I’m taking. For instance, in a clean read, faith might just be shown in a MC’s lifestyle, decisions, and passing comments. But in general, I like to show characters turning to faith as part of their growth arc. This usually happens when they realize their own efforts aren’t working, whether in business or relationships. Or when conflicts force them to face their weaknesses or wounds. When they open themselves up for God to work, positive change begins.

As an author and an editor, what advice would you offer to new writers?
Research what’s trending in publishing. When I first started out, literary-style historical fiction with a narrator’s voice and many points of view was popular. Readers grew accustomed to lots of speaker tags like “he said,” “she gasped,” etc., and phrases such as “she wondered/thought/felt.” For historical romance and much historical fiction, most publishers are now looking for deep point of view, where you write as though you are in the character’s head. You can only think and sense what that character does in that moment. I’d advise getting a book on writing deep point of view or attending a conference or class. Once your story is written, use an experienced critique partner or beta readers before sending your work to an editor or agent.

Most publishers expect a debut author to have built an online presence with a web site and a substantial social media following on at least two platforms. You can do this by blogging about your research and writing journey or reviewing books or hosting other writers. If you self-publish, you can build your public presence more gradually, but if you approach a traditional publisher in the future, they will still expect those things plus good sales for your indie titles. A poorly edited and poorly marketed title can haunt you forever. Consider starting with a small to midsize publisher that might be open to authors without agents, or Tweets at events like #FaithPitch.

Tell us about the “dream” manuscript you would love to see come across your editor’s desk.
Oh, goodness, that’s a good one. I’ve seen a lot of early-1900s fiction lately, so I’d like something that would take me farther back in time to a setting I haven’t seen yet, preferably involving a dangerous journey or an exciting new settlement or frontier, pushing the characters outside comfort zones. Deep point of view. Full of action and heart-pounding romance. 70-90K. LOL

What is your favorite pastime when you are not writing or editing?
Take three? Walking my dog, Lucy, at the gorgeous park near our home with my husband or friends. Sharing life with our small group. Exploring cute little towns crammed with boutiques, antiques, and coffee houses with my mom or two daughters.

Thank you, Denise, for sharing so much information with us! May you be blessed in all of your writing endeavors.


Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview style blog talk radio show, where she promotes those who share God’s love through writing and other ministry outlets. She hosts writers, published and unpublished, on her two blogs, The Over 50 Writer and Patti’s Porch on her website at Patti is published in two anthologies and local publications and has three western novels in progress. When not writing or reading, she is doing volunteer work for her church or attending her only granddaughter’s sports activities. Patti lives in Colorado with her devoted feline companion, Duncan.

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