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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Author Interview with Emily Hendrickson: ENTER TO WIN

  Today I'm excited to welcome a fellow author from Hartline Literary with an exciting inspirational romance hot off the presses. Read more below. Oh and check out the pictures with quotes from her novel below. Truly beautiful. 
    Enter to WIN a copy of her book by commenting below.

My name: Emily Hendrickson

My pen nameEmily C. Reynolds
Why did I have to go with a pen name? I’m glad you asked. You can read the story behind it on my blog under the post called “My Identity Crisis.”

Tell us a little about yourself!
I grew up in a small town in southern Maine, about an hour north of Boston, and had a childhood that was wonderful in all the ways that matter. My parents are in full-time Christian ministry, so even though we didn’t have a lot of “extras” growing up, we valued what we had and saw firsthand what it means to invest in things of eternal significance. I’m so grateful that God gave me humble, loving, self-sacrificing parents who taught us to love God and put Him first, above all else.

I graduated from Gordon College in Massachusetts with degrees in English Language & Literature as well as Biblical Studies. I’ve earned my living as a professional wedding photographer, high school English teacher, newspaper copy editor, piano teacher, and women’s self-defense instructor. And now I can officially add author to that list! My first book, Picture Perfect, released March 2 from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A dream come true!

The best thing that ever happened to me was walking into a coffee shop one morning and walking out, leaving my heart with the fine-looking barista working behind the counter. My husband Jason is the inspiration for my storybook heroes and my biggest cheerleader on this journey toward publication. We are blessed with a teenage son, two cats, and a dog named Boomer.

Can you share with us the storyline of Picture Perfect?

In Picture Perfect, a photographer and a martial artist partnered for swing dance lessons also become unknowingly pitted against each other in a real estate tug-of-war. As romance heats up, secrets from the past close in. Agendas collide, and when the truth comes out, one wrong move could trip them up for good. 

Here’s a little of the story setup of Picture Perfect:
Extending the right hand of fellowship to church visitors probably doesn’t include sucker-punching the cute guy from pew seventeen. But when Lily recovers from being startled by him late at night, she realizes who he is. And wishes she’d hit harder. It’s clear Micah doesn’t remember her—or breaking her heart ten years ago.
Avoiding him becomes her best option. Besides, she has more important things to worry about—namely renovating her newly leased storefront so she can quit her job and take her photography full-time.
Micah is back in his hometown with plans to open a martial arts school and make a fresh start. But the past haunts him, and the present isn’t looking much better. The one girl he’s interested in hates his guts and he has no idea why.
When they get thrown together for swing dance lessons, romance heats up on—and off—the dance floor. As Lily gets to know Micah, she wants to believe he’s changed. But forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when she discovers they’ve both set their sights on the same piece of real estate. And a dark secret from Micah’s past is quickly catching up . . .

Any sneak peaks you can give us behind the scenes in the creation of Picture Perfect?

So many people give writers the advice “write what you know,” and I think it’s natural for our passions to flow into our stories in some form or another. Tidbits of my own life and interests are woven into the storyline of Picture Perfect.

A perfect example is the scenes relating to martial arts. Micah, the hero in the story, practices jujitsu. Lily, the heroine, studies boxing. One of the underlying currents of the story is the concept of self-defense and safety.

Having grown up in a Christian “bubble,” I was anxious about heading off to college. It didn’t help that the first college I attended was on the outskirts of New York City. The summer before my freshman year, I asked a family friend (a police detective) if he would teach me self-defense. We got together and he showed me a few tactics, but I remember at the end of the evening feeling more worried, because as he showed me scenarios, my mind started to run. I began to realize just how little I knew, and how many different ways a person could attack another person. (To be clear, it wasn’t his fault at all. He taught me some simple techniques to use in an emergency. In retrospect what I wanted was training and that’s not something that happens in one night!)

In college, I took an 8-week course that was an intro to martial arts. Again, nothing wrong with the instructor or the class. But it was about precision of strikes, blocks, and kicks, and step-by-step attack/defense sequences. It was not “down and dirty” self-defense. (Of course it wasn’t designed to be! But in my ignorance, I equated “martial arts” with “women’s self-defense” and walked away feeling more vulnerable than when I started.)

Fast forward a few years. Not long after meeting my husband, I learned he studied jujitsu. He asked if I wanted to learn. I said no. I wasn’t interested in jujitsu. I wanted to learn self-defense. So he invited me to meet his instructor, who was excited to teach me techniques geared for women. I started coming early, before jujitsu class, to learn. I learned about women’s areas of strength, about awareness and alertness, and the physics of the human body. I practiced palm strikes and knees to the groin until I developed muscle memory and instinct and earned the nickname “Lethal Knees.”

Then my session would end, and jujitsu class would begin. It didn’t take long before I was joining them on the mat.

Over the years, I’ve loved teaching women’s self-defense because I've seen wonderful things happen when a woman learns she really can protect herself physically. I think every woman should realize she has a vested interest in her physical and sexual safety and not leave it up to chance or assume it's someone else's responsibility.

So many women see themselves as "weak." I was once one of them. Learning self-defense helps develop confidence, and that's something that has far-reaching effects--many women discover inner strengths they never knew they had and become "stronger" on different playing fields of life, whether it be work, relationships, communication, setting boundaries, the list goes on.

How emotionally invested do you get in your characters?
At times a little too much. LOL. As my characters developed, they become very real to me. While I was writing Picture Perfect, one of the funniest things occurred one morning during my devotions. I use index cards to list prayer requests, friends’ names, or praises. Flipping through cards helps me stay focused when I’m praying, because my mind often wanders.

Well, I’d been working the night before on some scenes where Lily was feeling defensive and bitter toward Micah. The next morning as I pulled out my prayer cards and settled in, I started with couples on my prayer list, saying their names and praying for specific needs. “Lord, please be with Sarah and Shawn and their financial need… Please be with Mary and Aaron that they’d grow closer to you, that their marriage would be strong… And, Lord, please help Lily forgive Micah for the grudge she’s harboring, and help Micah as—”

And I burst out laughing.

I’d just prayed for my imaginary characters.

Any advice for writers?

Surround yourself with people who support you. I am blessed to have a fantastic critique group that helps me hone my stories, and a few brainstorming buddies who encourage me and help strengthen my plots.

Join writing groups. One of the best things I did for my professional development was joining American Christian Fiction Writers. I got connected to other writers, critique groups, and a storehouse of publishing information that I soaked up, realizing how little I really knew. I also attended ACFW conferences, which allowed me to network with other professionals and learn more about the writing craft.

Be kind to yourself! Remember that everyone’s first draft is downright awful, so don’t let the ugly stop you. Keep going. Put the words down anyway, even if they make you cringe. As people say, you can’t edit what’s not there.

Accept who you are as a writer. I’m not a particularly fast writer. The story doesn’t unfold in a straightforward manner for me. I’m much more “seat of the pants” than plotter. So I have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay that the course is not charted; that’s part of the fun for me (I get to be surprised when a character says or does something). Only it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s downright stressful. It means the story doesn’t journey in a straight line from start to finish. There will be detours and dead ends and “wasted” time. But that’s just how it works for me. I can choose to get frustrated and think I’m less of a “real writer” because of it, or I can choose to accept that it’s just one of the weird ways I work.

Thanks for letting me share a little about my writing journey! I hope you enjoy a few giggles and sigh moments reading Picture Perfect.  

Enter to WIN a copy of Picture Perfect by commenting below and telling me what you look for in a fictional love story.

I love to connect with readers! Find me on Facebook under Emily C Reynolds or at my web site

Contact info:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hot Lead & Cold Apple Pie: The Long Awaited Prequel to Plum Pudding Bride

     Did Plum Pudding Bride leave you wanting to spend more time in the adventure-filled, crazy, laughable, often-times judgmental, never dull town of Gilman, Colorado? Were you curious about that time Peter Foote said he rode in a posse? Did you wonder if Mrs. Clinton, leader of the temperance league extraordinaire, has always been that insufferable? Were your thinking 2017 could use a little less stress and a lot more laughs?
     You're in luck. Hot Lead & Cold Apple Pie, the full-length prequel to the Christmas novella Plum Pudding Bride is coming soon to a bookstore near you. Below is the cover reveal and a sneak peek into the never before released first pages. :)


      Jenny Thompson takes great pleasure in her job as secretary to the elderly sheriff.  The sheriff consults her on cases and she’s convinced she single-handedly protects the town. Then, college-educated lawman Cal Westwood arrives to combat notorious outlaw “Bloody Joe” and his gang.
Determined to run Cal out on a rail before he can take over her sheriff office, Jenny will stop short of nothing.
Initially, Cal’s attracted to Jenny’s elusive green eyes, but that’s before she convinces the town flirt and the entire temperance league to aim their ire at him.
He has a gang to catch, his fallen comrade to avenge, and he’s not going to let one interfering woman ruin it for him, by Jove. But he might have underestimated Jenny. Will hot lead and quick trigger fingers ignite not just shootouts but love, or will their feuding give “Bloody Joe” the opportunity he needs to kill them all?


The Rocky Mountains, Gilman, CO 1891

         “Next we should make a law mandating that all women wear bloomers to the Fourth of July picnic.” Jenny Thompson flourished her pen across the last t of the sheriff memo and plopped the writing utensil on the desk.
          List of stolen items in the recent robbery complete, she pushed the paper toward Uncle Zak. The intensity of the Colorado afternoon sun hit the sawn lumber of the pine floor.
          Uncle Zak leaned heavily on the desk. His large, gray eyes fixed on her as he slowly shook his head back, then forth, ruffling his red neckerchief. “It’s just not done.”
          “Doesn’t mean we can’t start.” She’d seen a lovely bloomers pattern in the Butterick Home Catalog.
          Uncle Zak’s shoulders slumped along with his suspenders. “The Temperance League would have convulsions.”
          She smiled as she imagined Mrs. Clinton, the Temperance League leader, in bloomers.
         “Besides, the laws are to advance the public good, not force agenda.” Uncle Zak stood. He closed his fingers on the robbery report.
          “Freeing women from artificial constraints is a public good.”
Uncle Zak’s sigh lasted twice as long. “Some constraints are aimed to serve not restrain. Like how only men are sheriffs.”
          “About that, I’d make an excellent sheriff.” She was perfectly capable of doing the job. Actually, she’d planned on it ever since she started target practice under Uncle Zak’s tutelage at the tender age of six.
          Uncle Zak froze, hand suspended in the air.
          For the first time since she’d been in pigtails, she had flabbergasted him. Even his eyes popped.
         He didn’t need to look so shocked. Sure, there’d never been a female sheriff in Colorado, but someone had to be first. George Washington was the first president. Wyoming had just entered the Union as the first state allowing women’s suffrage.
          “You’re not as strong as a man.” Uncle Zak’s voice quavered, his knees too. He rested a steadying hand on the pine boards of the wall separating the main room from the office and jail cell within.
          True, but she had a Colt .45. What did people say? God created man, but Colt made them equal. “I could do the job. It’s 1890 after all.”
          The muffled sound of gulping came from Uncle Zak’s throat.
          She did pity him. Out of the kindness of his heart, he, a bachelor, took her in when her parents died. She certainly hadn’t been the easiest child. But Uncle Zak bore the blame for her desire to be sheriff. Maybe if she’d been raised by a mother who excelled in needlework, musical abilities, and other womanly virtues, then she’d want to be a proper lady.
         “When you buy that ranch you’ve been wanting and retire, I could take over.” She smoothed a wisp of hair behind her ear.
         “You’d never win the Gilman sheriff election.” Uncle Zak rested his desperate gaze on her as if praying such would be the case.
         “Because women can’t vote. When even a backwoods territory like Wyoming had the sense twenty years ago to give women the vote, you know there’s a problem.” Jenny righted her chair with a clatter and grabbed her basket from under the desk. Scooping the apple pie, which emitted a delicious hint of cinnamon, out of her basket, she set it on her desk. Women might not have the vote, but the temperance league held quite the sway here in Gilman. She needed to win them over.
           “And he’s coming on the noon train,” Uncle Zak finished.
           She blinked. “Who’s coming?”
          “Cal Westwood. He’s a great shot, lawyer-educated lawman from Houston.”
          “Why?” She reached for the pie spatula.
          “My leg’s been troubling me more than ever. Mr. Westwood’s agreed to come on as assistant sheriff and see how he likes the town.”
          Spatula half-immersed in apple pie, she stiffened. “I help you, Uncle Zak!” Her voice went shrill.
         Uncle Zak’s chest heaved. “You’re a pretty young thing of nineteen. Don’t you want to get married and have babies instead of sitting at some old man’s jail all day?”
         Sit! Sit was scarcely the word! Beyond her official duties as secretary, she solved crimes. The only thing she didn’t have was a gold star, and she intended on getting one of those as soon as possible. “I already explained my ambitions to you, Uncle Zak.”
        “Don’t you want to get married?” Uncle Zak barely disguised the eagerness in his voice.
        She was his only kin and he’d hinted at grandnieces and nephews ever since she’d turned sixteen. Uncle Zak needn’t worry. She had every intention of marrying. Peter Foote was her man. Peter Foote owned the general store in town, and he was handsome and personable in a quiet sort of way. They’d get married in the schoolhouse, and their children would have Peter’s velvety-brown eyes and would play among the store aisles…all while she kept this town safe.
        She inched her fingers up to span her waist. How horrified would the Temperance League be if she took to wearing a gun belt over the calico?
        Uncle Zak dug his fork into the apple pie. “You better hurry up, honey. Westwood’s train should arrive in a quarter hour, and I don’t want him having to ask directions to the sheriff’s office like a common stranger.”
        A scowl iced over her lips. Cal Westwood was a common stranger. With distaste, she scooped up her parasol. Just because she ran this town didn’t mean she needed her nose getting burnt.
       “Make sure to tell the townsfolk there ain’t no trouble in town. Cal’s just coming for my job.”
       Jenny flinched. She’d identified the ringleader in the hooligan uprising last year as well as put a stop to that silver mine strike ten miles north by improving the men’s rations. She should be sheriff. “How old is he, Uncle Zak?”
       “Young whipper-snapper. Just twenty-three.”
       Twenty-three! He’d never die off. The town would vote for him and then he’d be sheriff for ages and she’d never get her chance. Tears gathered behind her eyelids. This Cal Westwood wouldn’t do half the job she did.
       Her fist constricted. Know what? She wouldn’t stand by and let this happen. She’d ride Mr. City-Educated Westwood out on a rail first.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ending 2016 in Pictures

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
Almost got everyone to smile at the same time.

           We wish you a Merry Christmas,
Swords, necessary for all of life according to Joe-Joe. #armingbabybrother

             We wish you a Merry Christmas,

Pretend ax. Shudder to think what Joe-Joe might think up for Dolphy-Dolph to do with a real one.

                    and a Happy New Year.

My boys
       Here's wishing you all the best for a wonderful 2017.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Baby Chip: Progress Report

Our little Baby Chip is five months old, and at his four month doctor check up last month, he got a clean bill of health.

He's still tiny, but catching up. Went from about 1% overall on the preemie chart to now 20% on the preemie chart. No health issues at all except for the crookedness in both feet that we are doing stretches for. We see an orthopedic surgeon for that next week, but it's a fairly simple issue so shouldn't be a big deal.

We are praising God for how healthy our little guy is!

Here's a re-cap of how far Baby Chip has come.
20 weeks (March): Abnormal ultrasound found Baby Chip with short arms and legs, less than 1% bodygrowth, and a clubbed foot.

21 weeks: Specialists' level II ultrasounds confirmed that diagnosis, but found two clubbed feet. Since clubbed feet and small growth are very related to genetic issues, the doctors immediately thought about potentially lethal genetic issues as well as spinal dysplasia.
24 weeks: Specialist found absent bloodflow. Without blood, babies die. The specialists expected to have to deliver a one pound preemie in the very near future.
25-27 weeks: Doctors do a DNA blood test and amnio, preparing me meanwhile that genetic abnormalities, potentially lethal ones WILL be found. Doctors are shocked to find that Baby Chip's DNA blood test and amnio come back with no abnormalities. Bloodflow to Baby Chip is improving, not deteriorating, which puzzles the doctors, but makes us all very happy. The doctors still tell me to be prepared to deliver any time.
29 weeks: A routine bloodtest shows that my blood is attacking Baby Chip's blood big time. From then on out every week (up to 3x a week) the doctors consider giving him a blood transfusion in-utero. Several times we are sent or almost sent to Children's Hospital because the test results show that Baby Chip is very anemic. Every time he improves enough that we can avoid the transfusion.

30-36 weeks: On top of blood issues, Baby Chip is still less than 1%. With doctor appointments up to 3x a week, the doctors are continually talking about when to deliver, and how long they can keep Baby Chip inside. Because of the clubfeet, doctors say that Baby Chip still has a 4% chance of having genetic abnormalities that the amnio failed to detect.
36 weeks 3 days: Doctors induce Baby Chip. He's born at 4lbs, breathing well, but with obvious signs of my blood attacking his. The first physical therapist thinks he has clubfeet.

Baby Chip spends 12 days in NICU for blood issues. The specialists confirm he does not have clubfeet and, after a thorough examination, that he doesn't seem to have any genetic issues either.

 Baby Chip ends up on oxygen, no one's quite sure why, but probably from the combination of high altitude, prematurity, and blood issues.

Through the next three months, he visits the pediatrician at least once a week for blood-draws and gets six or seven blood transfusions and is on oxygen. All that time he is slowly catching up with growth and moves up to the 10% on the preemie chart.

4 months: Clean bill of health, 20% on preemie chart. We stretch his crooked little feet daily, but they aren't clubbed.

The doctors' most recent theory is that there was a massive bleed in the placenta, which caused the blood issues and the tiny growth. That massive bleed somehow improved and that's why Baby Chip was able to stay in until 36 weeks.

Thank you for all your prayers and support on our journey! I don't know if you believe in God or answered prayers, and I can't actually prove that our baby didn't beat all those odds stacked up against him at 20 and 24 weeks by chance.

I can't actually prove that our first son didn't survive his at-birth meningitis with no damage by chance either, though all of Baby Chip's maternal fetal medicine doctors that I told about Joe-Joe were surprised.

Still, when one has two healthy little boys in the house who the doctors believed should be dead or greatly delayed, it takes a lot of faith to believe that all happened by chance. I, for one, think the theory that my God intervened in my boys' life makes a lot more sense.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Neither Pro-Lifers Nor Pro-Choicers Have the Answer

         Since the Trump/Hillary debate moment on abortion, many moms have been sharing their stories about babies who died inside of them during the third trimester, saying that late term abortion laws endanger mothers. Pro-lifers have been responding with insistent demands that pro-life laws are perfectly written as is. I've found the social media debates very triggering because I have a four month old, and those stories so easily could have been me.

My son, Baby "Chip"

         In April of this year, at 24 weeks gestation, the doctors discovered that Baby Chip's umbilical cord  had absent bloodflow. Without blood, babies die. The only solution is an emergency c-section and NICU. One problem, at only 16 ounces, babies often die in NICU.
    The doctors suggested taking Baby Chip out that week and gave him a 1 to 5 chance of survival after months of NICU and probably severe delays from prematurity. Or I could choose to keep Baby Chip inside and he very well might die from lack of blood. I chose to keep Baby Chip inside.
     The waiting was torture. I remember counting kicks, counting movements, and wondering every hour between my often thrice weekly appointments if my son still lived.
      I now have a beautiful four-month-old baby with no delays, so I'm thrilled with my decision. It could have turned out very differently though. Either way, as Baby Chip's mother and a mentally competent person, keeping Baby Chip inside me was my decision to make, not some government board's.
    From 20 weeks to about 27 weeks gestation as doctors ran tests and tried to discover what was wrong with Baby Chip, they often threw out the term "incompatible with life." The point of the tests was to discover if Baby Chip had some sort of genetic abnormality which would make it impossible for him to survive outside the womb. Praise God, the tests showed he didn't have anything like that. The doctors warned me though, that should they discover that Baby Chip was incompatible with life, I'd have to make a choice. Did I want to eke out every hour I could with Baby Chip, or would I let him pass sooner rather than later?
     I had a truly horrid pregnancy, nausea the whole time etc. to the point that I was unable to be present for my 4-year-old or husband the way I should have been. If the doctors told me that Baby Chip was incompatible with life, I may have chosen to induce labor early and let him take his first and last breath at 26 or 27 weeks rather than 40 weeks. Parents of minor children who are critically injured by a car accident, brain dead, and only able to function on life support choose what hour they remove the life support. Don't mothers have the right to choose what hour to remove the life support of a placenta for their dying baby? Under many proposed pro-life laws, they don't have that right.
      Pro-lifers like to think that every abortion is a 40-something-married mom with a healthy baby and an SUV. They like to think that a stroke of a pen will turn a would be baby's death into a Walton family. Pro-lifers would like to believe every situation is like that, because then the choice would be easy.
    On the other hand, pro-choicers talk like every single abortion happens because the mother's about to lose her life from a baby who's dying anyway. They'd like to believe that,  because, if so, the choice would be easy.
      No matter what our political orientation, we make up little lies to eliminate the hard decisions. One pro-choice lie I've heard is that babies don't feel pain. Give me a break. I suffered every day knowing my baby was getting starved in-utero from lack of nutrient-rich bloodflow. I knew he was hungry and suffering and there was nothing I could do about it. It would have been easier for me to believe Baby Chip didn't feel pain, but that wasn't true.
My son in-utero

      A pro-life lie I've heard is that doctors are often, even usually wrong. All the tests will say your baby is "incompatible with life", but actually he'll be born perfectly healthy. An amniocentesis is as accurate as a blood draw, genetically speaking. After the amnio, blood DNA test, and 50 gajillion ultrasounds, doctors knew more about my unborn son, than they did about me after thirty years of doctor visits. It would be easier to believe that all children are born healthy because doctors don't know what they're talking about, but it's not true.
      Another pro-choice lie I've heard is that unborn children aren't really babies. Come on. We've all seen sonograms. Even the pregnant 14-year-olds I counseled who ultimately chose abortion still told me in each therapy session that their first trimester pregnancy was a baby. You're as smart as a 14-year-old. Admit it's a baby. It would be easier to believe that the baby who is complicating a woman's life, perhaps even putting her life in danger, is just a fetus, but it's not true.
      A pro-life lie I've heard is that only life or death matters, not suffering. Let's disregard maternal suffering. You're in a domestically violent relationship and getting hospitalized for abuse?--so what, you're not dead. We don't need to change the laws. Those parental rights we fought for mean a child is getting educationally neglected and yet no social worker shows up? Not my problem. No one's dead. We don't have to make hard decisions to stop this suffering. That's a lie. Even when it doesn't result in death, suffering matters.
        For example, hawkish types often post the death toll of the Iraq war. It's a smallish number compared to a lot of wars. See, the cost of war was small, they say. What about all those missing limbs from IEDs though? Four years ago, I met a man missing both arms and legs from the war. What about those with PTSD? What about those kids who didn't get to see Daddy or Mommy for months and years at a time? What about those marriages which broke because of the war? It would be easier to believe that the cost of war is small, but it isn't. I know war comes at a cost, you see, because I'm a military spouse.
my soldier on our wedding day

         One of the biggest lies I've heard from both the pro-life and pro-choice camp is that life matters because it is innocent. This is why some liberal groups focus so hard on saving the endangered random bird while disregarding troubled teens in foster care. This is why some conservative groups focus so hard on passing laws to save an unborn child while turning their backs on laws which could save the mother whose life is at risk from domestic violence.
         As a mental health counselor, I've worked in jails, sex offender programs, substance abuse recovery, and mental health facilities. In my work, I've rubbed shoulders with some of the least innocent in our society.
          Often times, I'm the one who gets the client who is thinking of suicide and I'm tasked with the job of convincing him or her to choose to keep on living because their life matters. How do I convince this man or woman sitting in front of me that they matter? I'm not presented with a lot of material to work with.
         I can't tell him, "oh, look at all the career rungs you've climbed, that makes you matter." For the last thirty years, he's been living on the streets holding up a cardboard sign.
          I can't tell her, "but think of all the loved ones who will miss you if you die, that makes you matter." She grew up in foster care, her friends are drug dealers, her last three boyfriends beat her up, and the man she sees most often is the pervert next door who pays her for sex.
     So I look into their eyes and I tell them, "you matter because you are you." I mean every word I say. Life doesn't matter because it is innocent. Life matters because it is human and, I believe, made in the very image of an all-powerful God. It would be easier to believe that those who have made bad choices no longer matter so we can just focus on saving the babies and the animals, but it isn't true.
     Even when we see evidence that our little lies are wrong, we cling to them, because they make life easier. Without our lies, life is gruesomely difficult. I wish there were easy answers to the brokenness in this world. I wish I could pass a piece of legislation that would prevent all men, women, and children everywhere from ever experiencing death, pain, or suffering. Newsflash pro-lifers and pro-choicers: no government can do that.
       Suffering, death, and disease will haunt us at every turn in this world. If we're to create a culture of life, we have to first acknowledge that we will often be put into situations where we can't save everybody. We have to accept that and we have to work from that premise to save as many as we can.
      What about people who just genuinely hate other human beings and don't value any life at all, you ask? Those people exist and they are horrid human beings. If you're reading this post though, I don't think you're one of those. I think no matter what side of the aisle you come from, all the pain and suffering in this world hurt you as much as they hurt me.
         If you and I can drop the political labels for a moment, I think we can try to work together for solutions that truly minimize suffering, death, and disease for all people, guilty or innocent, man or woman, unborn or born.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Free Clean (PG 13 or less) Romance Books for Book Bloggers

Book bloggers make the world go around. Or at least they make authors' worlds go around because book bloggers are who post the insightful reviews that allow readers to find authors' books.

One of the perks of being a book blogger is free books. One of the downsides of being a book blogger is a ton of authors asking you to review a book of theirs which you have zero interest in reading.

As an author, I've teamed up with some authors to create a Facebook group geared toward book bloggers who like to read clean-ish (PG-13 or less) romance novels.

Bloggers, want to take control over your review requests and pick the free books YOU want to review? Search no further. In my new group (, you can look through files of romance novels sorted by subgenre and request the ones you want to review. No being spammed by authors, ever.

The group launched today and we're actively recruiting bloggers. Newer/smaller-audience bloggers very welcome. Check out the group here.

Friday, October 7, 2016

7 Reasons to Keep it Real on Social Media

judge not, lest you be judged ;)

       Ever written a Facebook status or posted an Instagram picture that had no bearing on your actual reality just so you could look good? I know I have.
    Thomas Jefferson once said: "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." The modern translation of this quote might be, "You know more about the friend you haven't seen in twenty years, than the friend who've you only kept up with through Facebook."
       Social media wouldn't have to be this way. We could all start telling the truth on Facebook. Here are seven reasons why it's to your advantage to keep it real on social media.


1.  Your opinion matters most. By lying on social media, you're signaling you care a whole lot more about other people's opinions than you should. Who cares about other people's opinions? Be yourself and let them start worrying about your opinion, rather than visa versa. In other words, live the life you want, not the one other people want you to want. Life's too short to live any other way.

2. Fake joy is only skin deep. You can convince the rest of the world your life is perfect. Or you can work on actually making your life perfect. One pursuit will only detract from the other.

3. You're selling false goods. Lying about your life not only messes with your head; it messes with others' heads. Think how guilty you will feel when all your Facebook friends buy two dozen rats because you have convinced them through your photo-shopped Facebook pics that the impulse purchase your husband made for your two-year-old that weekend you were gone at the women's retreat really did enhance your quality of life. ;)

4. Denial is bad. If you spend all your time pretending the bad things in your life don't exist, i.e. the Facebook version of denial, you'll never actually fix the things in your life that need fixing.

5. Lies are bad. Lying is morally wrong. Didn't we all learn that in Sunday School?

6. Have some self-respect. By faking things on social media, you're really showing you lack self-respect in your accomplishments. Your life doesn't actually stink all that bad. Embrace your life. Maybe, wonder of wonders, your friends might like the real you.

7. Everyone knows the truth anyway. If the last six reasons don't motivate you to bring a little honesty to your social media profiles, think of this: you're not actually fooling anyone. We all know Facebook code. Here's the translation tool.

FB post: "My husband is amazing."
Real life translation: "We had a fight last night and I want to make up." Don't you miss the old days where people could kiss and make up behind closed doors? ;)

FB post: "My wife is so hot."
Real life translation: "My highschool ex just friended me on FB and I really want her to know I'm over her."

FB post: "Look at my well-behaved kids."
Real life translation: "My kids tried to burn the house down last night. I narrowly stopped them. At this rate, I'll have no hair left by the time I'm 40."

FB post: "See my perfect Pinterest recipe."
Real life translation: "Pinterest is about the only thing going right in my life right now."

FB post: "Dolled up selfie."
Real life translation: "Ever since my boyfriend cheated on me, I've felt insecure about my looks."

FB post: "My kids are adorable."
Real life translation: "SOS. SOS. Can someone PLEASE bring me a bottle of wine and a babysitter?"

On a scale of 1(lies) to 10(honesty), how honest are you on social media? Comment below...if you dare. ;)