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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.