KEARNEY — Using humor in her stories doesn’t come easily to author Carolyn Scheidies.
“I don’t write humor,” she said in an interview from her house in Kearney. “I’ve helped a lot of authors who write humor but I’m not very good at it. This book comes out that way. It’s got a thread of humor through it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
She understands that “Christmas, Cupids and Kisses,” a contemporary second-chance-at-love romance, often deals with weighty topics.
“It deals with some serious subjects but it seems that the hero and heroine keep bumping heads,” Scheidies said. “One thing after another just doesn’t go right.”
Scheidies released “Christmas, Cupids and Kisses” in June after kicking the story around for many years.
In the book, Claire leaves a marriage with no intention of ever getting involved again. She meets Michael, an architect working on a project for a church where Claire’s father serves as the pastor. With three children between them, the two characters watch as their barriers fall — all except for a secret that Claire keeps hidden.
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Scheidies, who also writes a column for the Kearney Hub, first pitched “Christmas, Cupids and Kisses” to her publisher when she was writing historical fiction. She focused on the Regency era, the period from 1811-20 in Great Britain and Ireland.
“I became quite an expert on that period,” she said. “There is a niche market for that. My last big book contract was with Harlequin but my first proposal for them was this book.”
Scheidies’ publisher asked for more books based on the Regency period instead of fiction set in contemporary times.
“You get known in the business for certain things,’ she said. “It gets harder to branch out.”
While Scheidies often plots her stories with a touch of mystery and some suspense, she calls “Christmas, Cupids and Kisses” a “flat-out romance.”
In a press release, Scheidies wrote, “I am happy to offer my family, friends and fans a new fiction story after the last few years when so many things have been going on with my life. My most recent releases have been nonfiction with a devotional ‘Listen! Who Me?’ and a short Bible study on First John, ‘God’s Love Letter to You.’”
She cites her experience as a book reviewer and an editor as a way she sharpened her writing skills.
“I spent so many years as a book reviewer and running a book review site, you get to know what’s out there, what people want and what people don’t want,” she said. “I learned, as a book reviewer, to put myself in the mind of someone who would like that book. How would they respond? I’ve had a lot of experience on all sides of the table, you might say.”
While she takes her audience into consideration, she also wants to write from an authentic place.
“I’m writing what’s on my heart,” Scheidies said.
The author graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a degree in journalism. Her publishing credits include more than two dozen books.
After her successes with Harlequin, Scheidies thought she would be writing historical romance for the rest of her career.
Changes in the publishing industry caused Harlequin to stop publishing Regency-era fiction.
And then in 2014 Scheidies suffered a fall that affected her writing. She had dealt with the effects of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 13.
“The CAT scan showed concussion, a brain bleed, cracked skull — that’s all it showed,” she said.
But her doctor suspected more. After more tests, her medical team found that Scheidies’ upper spine was almost completely closed off.
“I was in the hospital for two and a half months,” she said.
After speech therapy for a year, Scheidies regained her voice. She still struggles with cognitive tasks.
“That fall did a number on my energy level so that it took me a long time to heal,” Scheidies said. “I’m very thankful for where I’m at. I knew that I couldn’t keep at my writing the way I’d been doing.”
“Christmas Cupids and Kisses” represents an achievement for the writer.
“I spent the first couple of years after my fall making sure I could still write,” she said. “I put out a three-book Regency series and then that was when my company got bought out. But now I need to keep things at an easier pace. I can take the time I need for these manuscripts. I loved the story but I had pushed it aside for the books I had contracts for.”