Welcome to Kara who has several releases of historical romance fiction.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I’m a teacher. I vowed up one way and down he other I wouldn’t enter into the profession. But God had other ideas. While I hadn’t planned on working in education, I certainly never thought about being an author. My sister challenged me to rewrite the end to a book I hadn’t cared for, and I did. In my head. Which opened up a new world, and soon I had four core families in a tiny Texas town in the late 1800s living in my imagination. It took thirteen years, and lots of rewriting, but I published my first book in 2013 and haven’t slowed down.
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do anything else. I’m a mother of a cellist, trumpeter, and baseball player. I’d love to continue scrapbooking, but our children are too busy to allow for that kind of hobby. It doesn’t disappoint me because it’s truly a joy to watch them do what they love, to see them grow and change. I can’t believe I am so fortunate as to know them.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
Well, the music I listen to while writing is whatever chant or cheer are played during an Astros or Texans game. I’m usually watching my favorite teams win, or lose, while I pen stories of romance and intrigue.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
I sure have. I am a native Texan and have traveled all over the state with my husband and children. All of my books take place in Texas, however, the 5th story, The Soldier’s Love, starts in Nebraska (I have been there, too.) and ends in Texas. The fort in my 5th book is based on Ft. Davis in West Texas.
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
When I get home, I almost immediately start writing. I write while I cook supper. I write in the car while waiting on a child to finish practice, or CCE, or a club meeting. I usually have about 30 minutes in the morning before I have to walk out the door, and I write then, as well. Every free moment I have, I write.
What’s your dream vacation destination?
Ireland. My husband is going to take me for our 20th wedding anniversary. I cannot wait.
In what genre do you read?
I read all books. I’ve read everything from Jane Austen to Tony Dungee (football coach). My absolute favorite author is Jane Austen. She transcends time. My favorite genre is definitely romance, though. I can’t get enough of people falling in love!
When she was little more than a child, Willa Kramer went to extreme lengths to save her family from their abusive father. After that horrible day, her mother and siblings moved to Tennessee, and Willa had hoped to leave Texas, its memories and Lonnie Davis, the only boy she ever trusted, behind. But fate is unpredictable.
Five years have passed, and Lonnie finds himself reunited with Willa, the only girl he’s ever loved. He’s determined not to let her slip away again, but a figure from the past looms, threatening his hopes for the future.
Lonnie excused himself from Willa’s parents, and despite his silent commands to give Willa space, he couldn’t keep from following the lady who had occupied his thoughts for the last several years. It would be odd not to speak to her. They’d been close. Once.
When he stepped into the vacant kitchen, he caught sight of her form through the screen door. She stood on the porch, her hands lightly gripping the rail, gazing at the outbuildings, field and the trees shading Glebe Run. The breeze caressed her, sending wisps of her hair to float around her face.
He paused. His chest tightened. He’d waited a long time to see her, had wondered if he ever would. Years ago, she’d wrapped him around her little finger, and he’d grown so attached to her, he’d thought about moving to Tennessee to be with her. But then she had stopped writing. To say it had hurt would be an understatement. But he hadn’t been angry. He could never be angry with her. Never. And now she was back and near. It was too tempting.
After taking a deep breath, he moved forward then went through the screen door. Even though it gave a loud creak, she didn’t turn. Did she know it was he who stood behind her?
The light breeze ruffled her skirt. Her long, velvety hair grazed the small of her back. An ache centered in the pit of his stomach. He’d missed her. And now she was here. “Hello, Willa,” he said, hearing the gentleness of his tone.
She tensed before facing him. Her gaze was shuttered, as if she needed to protect herself from him. Was she afraid? Had he said something in his letters that had hurt her? An urgency gripped him.
“How are you?” he inquired, tamping down the questions he really wanted to ask. Instead, he searched her face for clues as to why she seemed guarded. In the past, he’d been the person she trusted, the person she leaned on. What had he done wrong?
“H-Hello, Lonnie. It’s good to see you.”
Was it? She didn’t seem happy. “It’s…really good to see you, too,” he couldn’t help admitting.
“Did you meet my step-father?” she asked.
“I did. Seems like a nice fellow.”
“He is. He makes Mother happy.”
When she didn’t continue, he racked his brain for a response. Nothing came to him. Her upturned face held determined lines, and the barriers in her hazel eyes left him silent.
“Greg likes him,” she inserted into the awkward silence stretching between them.
He linked his thumbs through his belt loops. “I haven’t seen your brother yet. Where is he?”
She nodded her head in the direction of the barn. “Checking on his horse. He brought Tracks with us. He loves that animal too much to be apart from him for long.”
Lonnie understood. He was the wrangler on the family ranch and dealt with horses most of the time. He had a special relationship with the animals. “And Shelby?” he asked, inquiring about her sister. If mundane conversation was what Willa wanted, he would respect that. Besides, did he really want to ask why she’d stopped writing? Did he really want to return to the road that led to Willa Kramer? It had taken a while to stop feeling something whenever he thought of her. And he still thought of her. Every day.
“Married. She lives in Oregon. She hasn’t met our step-father, but I’ve written to her about him.”
Which meant Willa had indicated whether or not she trusted the man. Lonnie figured she did. If the man hadn’t earned the respect of Willa, Lonnie doubted her mother would have married him.
“How was the trip down?”
She shrugged. “As comfortable as possible. I hadn’t ever ridden on a train. It was much better than the stagecoach ride from Texas to Memphis.”
The day she’d boarded that coach to leave Pikes Run had ripped out his heart. He’d watched her go, unsure of what she meant to him, what he meant to her. A week after the Kramer family had left, Lonnie had understood he loved Willa. He’d written. And she’d replied. But then, after the fifth exchange, she had stopped. Without warning. Without explanation. What had he done?
As he looked into her eyes, it was all he could do not to move closer, to cup her cheek with a hand. He was falling again. Or had he ever regained his heart? That invisible tug he’d felt around her had returned. In mere minutes.
He refrained from uttering a curse. It wasn’t her fault he was still drawn to her. He’d probably never been free of her, though he’d worked like hell to forget her. But seconds had destroyed whatever barriers he’d managed to build, and he drowned in her eyes once more. And again, just as it had been all those years ago, he only needed her in order to keep his head above water.
But walls lived in the depths of her gaze. Walls against him. His gut clenched. Hurting Willa was the last thing he’d ever wanted to do, but it appeared he had. The need to apologize burned his tongue.
“Lonnie,” a male voice called.
Lonnie spotted a lankier, taller version of Greg Kramer walking from the barn toward the porch. Gladness gripped Lonnie, overtaking the frustrated helplessness rushing through his veins. He met the younger man in the middle of the yard. They shook hands, grinning at each other. Greg was a welcome distraction.
“It’s good to see you,” Greg said.
“And you. You’re taller.”
Greg laughed. “I can almost look you in the eye, huh? Might be able to beat you at arm wrestling now, too.”
Lonnie lifted an eyebrow, a grin still tugging his lips. “We’ll see about that.” He gestured toward the barn. “Willa tells me you brought your horse with you.”
A sheepish expression came over Greg’s face. “I shouldn’t have asked my step-father to pay to stable Tracks on a train, but I didn’t want to leave him. I just got him.”
Lonnie could feel Willa’s eyes on him. His body tingled with awareness, and if he wasn’t careful, he was going to whip around and jump right over the imaginary fence she’d erected and ask her why she’d stopped answering his letters. He had to put some distance between them. “Can I see him?” he asked Greg.
The young man’s face lit. “Of course.”
As they fell in stride with each other, Lonnie heard the screen door creak. Willa was gone. His heart sank to the pit of his stomach.
Kara O’Neal was born and raised in Texas. After surviving those awkward years of 7 to 16, she spent two years at Sam Houston State University where she met her husband. He followed her to Texas Tech University and was proud when she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development. Soon after graduation Kara followed her heart and became certified to teach Special Education.
She married the love of her life in 1998 and had three children. The happiest times of her life are spent with her family and friends. Kara is fortunate to be surrounded by the best and most amazing people God put on this earth.
When she was pregnant with her oldest child, Kara wrote her first novel. And then rewrote it. And rewrote it again. She did this while teaching, raising kids, and traveling across Texas with her husband. Thank goodness for spiral notebooks!