Painting Pictures With Words: Meet Author Karen Schutte and Her Literary Works About Wyoming History

When Karen Schutte sat down compile important information she believed she was doing it for her family. Little did she know the labor of love would morph into a new career.

Annaliese Wiederspahn

December 13, 202110 min read

Karen Schutte
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Karen’s books are among the best I’ve ever read about Wyoming history. Especially since most concern members of her family.” -Bill Sniffin, Publisher of Cowboy State Daily

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So often we rely on one or two people in a family to hold onto photos for safekeeping along with the family bible and important documents. As times have changed people are more scattered, less connected in spite of modern technology and the heartbeat of our world has gotten a lot quicker. You can thank your lucky stars if you have one or two reliable people in your family who have stepped up to take on the responsibilities. 

When Karen Schutte sat down more than two decades ago to compile and document important information she believed she was doing it for her family; for her children and later her grandchildren. Little did she know the labor of love would morph into a new career and enable her to share history that took place in Wyoming with people around the globe.

Karen Wamhoff Schutte is the first-born daughter of Beata and the late Arnold Wamhoff of Emblem, Wyoming. She was born and raised in a German Lutheran farming community in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming. She attended the first eight grades in a two-room schoolhouse, later graduating from Greybull High School and earning a bachelor’s degree in Design Marketing at the University of Wyoming; she owned and operated Interiors by Karen for twenty-five years..

Karen married her high school sweetheart and today she and her husband Michael have four grown sons, nine grandchildren and one great granddaughter. After raising her family, Karen owned and operated her own interior design firm as an ASID professional designer for the next twenty-five years. She is a former Soroptimist and participated in numerous community groups. Today she and Michael are ready to celebrate Christmas 2021 with a new puppy. 

Upon retirement in 2000, Karen began to think about simply documenting her knowledge of her family’s immigration and all the stories she heard at the feet of her grandparents. Karen felt compelled to record her family’s history of German immigration. As the oldest grandchild and great-grandchild on her mother’s side, she dove into the maternal historical research with the intent of documenting the family information. As the intriguing family stories began to fill her head, their lives and voices began to spill onto the pages.  The unexpected result was her first novel, THE TICKET. 

Because it was so well received, Karen felt inspired to proceed with the second novel in the maternal family saga, SEED OF THE VOLGA.

From the maternal series, the first book, The Ticket and third book, Flesh on the Bone, were awarded best in historical fiction by the Wyoming State Historical Society.

Karen’s historical research into the family background revealed several surprising findings, one of those being that the family carries far eastern blood markers. The other is that she descends from royal German blood.

Documenting, the historical research, and the family stories consumed Karen as she began to write. She has 6 published novels, The Ticket, Seed of the Volga, Flesh on the Bone, Tank Commander, German Yankee and The Far Place. All have won national and/or regional and state awards.

Karen released her fourth novel, THE TANK COMMANDER, in 2016. 

“When I write a book, a story of life, I am there, it is happening to me as I visualize the entire scene, the dialogue, the drama and conflict. I feel like I am leaving a legacy through my books as well as loving the journey of this new purpose in life. Before I begin a new novel, I go through my files and organize everything I have collected about the subject. I make a mental chronological path for the story as I immerse myself in other books of the same genre. This prepares me—gets me in the mood of the time and the scenarios about which I am about to craft. It was never my dream to become a writer, or to write a novel. The first 4 were about my mother’s side of the family. German Yankee, which was released in September 2018 was the first book on my father’s side. A Far Place is the 2nd. I have one more on the back burner—just simmering. Becoming a writer means being creative enough to find time in your life for writing. It’s become my passion, my purpose!

Her 5th novel and first in a new paternal series, THE GERMAN YANKEE was released in the fall of 2018.  Schutte’s great-grandfather, John Westerhoff came to America to carve out a new life, only to be swept up in the Civil War. He was a farrier by trade and joined the Union Cavalry, fighting on the Western Front in Missouri. After the war, he and his new wife choose a better life on the unsettled plains of Nebraska. 

A FAR PLACE is Schutte’s 6th historical novel and  the sequel to her 1st paternal novel, GERMAN YANKEE. This final book of the series revolves around Schutte’s grandparents who left Nebraska at the turn of the 20th century to homestead in the wilds of rural Wyoming. John and Mary Wamhoff built the farm where she was born and raised in the Big Horn Basin. Using family photos, stories, actual 100-year-old letters, along with her historical research, Schutte weaves a beautiful story of sacrifice, faith, deception, and the final crushing blow which almost lost the farm.

While Karen’s readers love her historical accounts, attention to the details and her passion, she says, “When I sit down to write, I visualize the characters, the story, the setting, and  then—I paint a picture for the reader with my carefully chosen words.” Schutte further elaborates, “Writing to me is an unintended, emotional release, a journey of discovery, and a cherished gift which I have discovered in the winter of my life. I hope I have enough years left to accomplish all that I have planned.  I may have another book up my sleeve, we’ll see how it pans out.”

Karen is beloved and her books are treasured by her many fans and she receives notes frequently from readers who have been moved by her books: 

Great Novel! I want to give a couple for Christmas presents–to a Brigadier General and a General in Washington D.C.” –Tom, Washington, D. C.

Yes, they make excellent gifts for giving and a perfect addition to your own collection as well. Just in time for Christmas you’ll want to know more about the limited time offer to literally buy a gift for someone you love and care about and get a gift for yourself at a tremendous discount – be sure to scroll down to learn more!

“The accuracy, the manner of Karen’s writing and content pulls you into her books and makes you feel you are there as a participant. Each of Karen’s books has been fantastic; when I started reading her “Seed of the Volga”, I could not, literally, put it down.  I have had similar comments from many other readers as they come back for the next book.”  TIM HETTINGER, WINDSOR 2018

“I have read all of your books and in all of them, I was held spellbound. I simply could not put one down! Your writing draws the reader into the book and you feel like you are right there viewing it all.  You are a very gifted writer and person. I am looking forward to your next series on your paternal lineage.” Ann – Oklahoma

“Great reading! A true page turner. Historical facts and fiction blend so perfect you never know when it switches. A book you never want to end and you definitely don’t want to miss this read.” -Julia Graham

We can’t keep your books in our library and I personally LOVE how you write. Hits my heart and hits home with me every time. Thanks.” –Powell Wy. Librarian

I know it isn’t out yet, but I’ve enclosed my check for your next book, Tank Commander. I so much enjoy your books and can’t wait to get my hands on this next one. It’s so important to remember and to learn of the sacrifices our ancestors have made for us.” -George, Lander, WY 

“Schutte has taken an interesting family story and turned it into a compelling novel.” -Nancy Hansford, author and critic in Fort Collins, CO

I heard similar stories growing up. I had tears in my eyes many times reading your stories and they really touched my heart. I will keep these books with the hopes that my sons will read them someday and know about their heritage. Thank you for writing your books.” -Val, Cheyenne, WY

I have read all of Karen’s books and have found them to be captivating reads. Karen’s books have brought history to life for me with a nice mix of the historical story, the human emotions, thoughts, and trials of being foreigners in a new land. Karen has a way of putting you into the words on the page which keeps you wanting to read to the end and still want more.”  KATHLEEN  2019 

Holiday Sale! Largest Discounts Ever!

As a thank you to her fans Karen has extended the holiday sale through 

6 p.m. December 22nd!


5 BOOKS – 40%, 4 BOOKS – 30%, 1-3 BOOKS 25%



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It’s not often that I find an author who can hold my attention past the first 10 pages or so, but Karen is good at drawing her audience into the story, plus I’m a sucker for well-researched historical fiction. I connect with her stories!”     CHUCK 2018

In Karen’s words, “I enjoy giving presentations to groups such as historical societies, museums, libraries and more. I also love to sit down and talk to book clubs about my novels and their take on a particular book. That is one of my favorite things to do!

Karen is available for book clubs, any service groups who use speakers, genealogy groups, etc. Use the online Contact Form to reach Karen with specific questions, or phone 970-222-1305.

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Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter