An interview with Elysa Hendricks

Please help me welcome the talented Elysa Hendricks to my blog today.  Please remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a prize.

1.  How much time do you spend promoting your books?  What works best for you?

I probably spend way too much time doing promotion. Sadly, I have very little idea what works and doesn’t work. I just keep trying different things. Promoting for self-published ebooks is vastly different than for traditionally published print books. I write blogs and do interviews, which take time away from actual writing, but without them I’m afraid my books would get lost in the flood of books being released every day. I use Facebook as a way to connect with family, friends and readers, but it’s highly addictive. I’ll start out intending to spend thirty minutes there and three hours later I’m still reading and writing posts, most of which have little to do with promoting my writing. I belong to a couple a dozen writer’s Yahoo lists, so email is another big time suck.  So far I’ve managed to avoid becoming a Twit because the whole world of Twitter completely baffles me. I haven’t figured out the most efficient way to promote my books, but my best results have come from visiting people’s blogs. I love hearing from readers and other authors.

2.  How has your experience with self-publishing been?

I LOVE it! I can write the stories that excite me without worrying if they’ll fit into a publishing house’s sometimes narrow parameters. And after a less than pleasant experience with one New York house I love the control and freedom self-publishing gives me. Being able to create my own covers is fun. However, I still have four fantasy books with ImaJinn Books and have a sci-fi romance DARK STAR DAWNING coming out with them soon. I haven’t eliminated the idea of traditional publishing. I’m just waiting for the right offer. Preferably one with six figures.

3.  Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Mostly I dig them up in the backyard or I buy them resale shops, garage sales and the Goodwill. Actually, ideas come to me from many sources – TV shows, books, movies, newspaper and magazine articles, a snatch of conversation overheard in a restaurant or grocery store. Anything and everything can trigger an idea in my imagination. Once an idea sprouts in my head I think and dream about it until it beings to develop into a story. Sometimes at this point I’ll write down the bones of the idea and leave it sit. Other times it grabs hold of me so tight I have to start writing it out. At that point I usually commit to writing the book and start the process of research and plotting.

My least favorite method of getting a story idea is when someone comes up and tells me “Boy, have I got a story for you to write.” It takes tact (sometimes more than I possess) to tell that person I have more than enough ideas to keep me writing for years and only they can write their story.

4.  How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?

I think all writers “collect” people in their minds. We store names, personalities, and events to be pulled out and combined later into entirely new character people in our stories. Though I may have used a name or a particular trait, I’ve never consciously taken a real person I’ve met and turned them intact into a fictional character in my books. I find that each heroine includes bits of me or people I know that I either like or dislike and in addition I’ll give them personality traits that I wish I had or wish I didn’t have. So if you read one of my books and recognize yourself, don’t be alarmed, it’s really just a composite person. That said each of my characters is a “real” person to me. They live in my head and heart for months as I’m writing about them and stay there forever afterwards.

5.  What genres are you drawn to as a reader?

I like stories that offer me something different. My real life is plain, bland, boring vanilla, so in my reading I want spice and adventure. Fantasy with magic and sci-fi set in other worlds grab and hold my attention. But I also enjoy stories set in the real world about people, places and events that I’d never have the opportunity or courage to experience. While reading a book I can fall in love again, climb mountains, skydive, ski, fly planes and spaceships, explore caves and fight zombies. For a short period of time I can leave the problems of real life behind and be another person. In romance I’m guaranteed a happy ending.

6.  Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?

I write historical, sci-fi, fantasy and contemporary romance because I like those genres, so I also read them. I do try not to read historical fiction when I’m writing historical fiction, at least not stories set in the same time and place, so my story doesn’t inadvertently borrow from them. Same with the other genres. But since there’s such a broad range of story settings it’s pretty easy not to overlap my reading with my writing. I also read outside the romance genre, so I’m never without a book to read. I find that the more I read the more I write. Every book I read inspires and encourages me. I learn from them.

7.  Tell us a little about yourself and your latest book.

There’s not much to know about me. I’m 5’6″ tall. I have curly hair and brown eyes. I’m an author, a wife, a mother and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice. All the interesting stuff is in my books.

Both my westerns THIS HEART FOR HIRE and HER WILD TEXAS HEART were inspired by my reading of Larry McMurtry’s LONESOME DOVE and T.R. Fehrenbach’s COMANCHES:The Destruction of a People. I wanted to write a gritty, realist account of life in the Old West, but also give the reader a compelling love story with a satisfying happy ending.

My latest book, HER WILD TEXAS HEART is the second book in my western series. In a lawless west Texas border town, a woman has two choices: death or dishonor. Doctor’s apprentice and former Comanche slave, KC O’Connor finds a third–she buries her femininity and longing for love beneath a boyish disguise. But the arrival of an injured greenhorn shatters the shell around her hidden heart.


8.  Do you or have you belonged to a writing organization?  Which one?  Have they helped you with your writing?  How?
I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America since the early 90’s. I helped found the Windy City and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapters of RWA. I also belong to WISRWA and COFW RWA chapters. What I’ve learned and gained from my membership in these groups is beyond measure. Romance authors are some of the most caring, helpful people in the writing industry. They write about the power of love to overcome all obstacles, so how could they not be? In addition to the help they’ve provided me learning the art, craft and business of writing, I’ve made and continue to make friendships that will last a lifetime.


Arms and legs at odd angles in death, a man lay on his side amid the rocky, scrub covered ground. Blood covered his upper back, but the bullet hole in his coat, just below his left shoulder, was small.

KC leaned over him and fingered the rich cloth. Once she’d soaked out the blood, she could easily mend it.

She turned her attention back to the man at her feet. Too bad he was dead. Thick, gold blond hair covered his head and stubble of beard shaded his square chin. Beneath his tan, his strong classic features had a pale, waxy look. A thin trickle of blood escaped from the corner of his mouth. Creases bracketed that same mouth, indicating he had either smiled or frowned a lot. KC bet on the former. Blue, she thought, with that fair hair, his eyes would have been blue.
His broad shoulders tapered down to a narrow waist, his legs long and lean beneath his tight trousers. KC estimated his height at least six inches over her own five foot seven.

Though KC didn’t much like men, she could appreciate this one’s male beauty. Gold and bronze, he reminded KC of the pictures she’d seen in Mama’s books, of the Greek god Apollo.

Books the Indians had torn apart and used to start the fire that…no, she wouldn’t think about that time. She turned her thoughts back to the man.

There’d only been one shot during the night. That, in itself, was unusual. Peaceful, Texas was usually anything but. One shot in the dark meant a slow night. It awakened her from her nightmare and for that she’d been thankful.
The hot Texas sun beat down on KC’s bent head. Sweat trickled between her breasts reminding her the dead didn’t keep long in the heat. Already a lone buzzard circled above, waiting.

With a grimace of distaste, KC searched the man’s pockets. Other than a pale, pink lace, nothing-of-a-handkerchief, they were empty. She stroked the soft silk, her rough fingers snagging the delicate fabric. With a scowl she shoved it into her vest pocket and continued her search.

Whoever shot the man also picked him clean. Probably Rico, she thought. That mean little snake would think nothing of shooting a man in the back. Rico must have been in a hurry, only the stranger’s boots were missing.

Well, Rico’s loss was KC’s gain. Made of quality material, the stranger’s clothes could be reused. The man’s silk shirt alone had nearly enough fabric to make a shirt each for Eli and herself. KC silently thanked her deceased mother for the needlework lessons.

Already the morning had proven quite profitable. Just before dawn, shouts and gunshots roused her from her bed yet again. Peering out of the hayloft window, she caught a glimpse of Rico and his men taking off after a dark stranger riding a big rawboned horse. KC wasn’t sure, but she thought she saw a woman riding double with the stranger. She wished the man luck and put the incident out of her mind. This was, after all, Peaceful. Shootouts and murders happened on a regular basis.

When KC came down from the loft, she found over a dozen books lying strewn on the barn floor. Beautiful, leather-bound, gold-embossed books, books like the ones Mama had so loved.

Glancing quickly around, she waited for someone to step out of the shadows to claim them. No one came. She collected them and carried them up to the loft.

Before she hid them away, she stole a few minutes to stroke the smooth leather, to smell the familiar scent of paper and ink. Later she would open them and read the words, savoring them like the rare and wonderful things they were. Then she had scooted back down to begin the day’s chores.

Sweat soaked through the bandanna tied around her forehead, and rolled down her chest and back under the heavy leather vest she wore. If she stayed to strip and bury the dead man, she wouldn’t have time to slip away for a quick dip in the river before she’d be needed back at the stable.

Of course, she didn’t have to bury the man. What was one more body in a town like Peaceful? This far from town no one would notice the smell. Even if they did, it wouldn’t concern them, dead bodies were not uncommon in and around town. Few of those who died in Peaceful ever received a proper burial. Besides, the buzzards gathering above wouldn’t leave much.

As if summoned, a buzzard landed a few yards away, its beady eyes focused on the man’s still figure. KC gazed longingly at the silver swathe of water glistening in the distance then looked down at the man’s lifeless form. She gave a resigned sigh.

“Don’t worry stranger. The buzzards won’t have you. And,” something made her add, “I’ll leave you enough so you won’t meet your maker buck-naked.”

Standing, KC swept the broad-brimmed hat from her head and shooed the buzzard away. The bird rose squawking into the air. It would be awhile before the ugly creature worked up its nerve to approach again. By then it would be too late.

KC knelt next to the man and grasped his shoulders, rolling him onto his back. Only when he lay flat on the ground did she realize the scope of the loss his death was. Beautiful, she thought. Even in death, his face held the power to move her. A lump formed in her throat. No matter how often she encountered it, the ending of a life affected her. Unbidden, tears stung the back of her eyes.

Savagely, she rubbed her knuckles into her eyes. She would not cry for some unknown man—no matter how beautiful. She never cried. She hadn’t cried for Mama, or for Papa. She didn’t cry for her lost brother, Brendan. Crying didn’t bring the dead back. Crying didn’t ease the pain of grief. She swallowed the lump in her throat, pressed her lips into a tight line and reached for the pearl buttons of the man’s shirt.

His eyes blinked opened.

Shock held her rigid.

He reached out. His hand closed around her wrist, trapping her. His grip brought her nightmares to life.

A strangled shriek bubbled in her throat. Her heart pounded in fright. With a gasp, she yanked her hand free. Overbalanced she landed on her backside in the dust. She scooted away crab-like.

His hand fell limply to his side. “Please,” he croaked. “Help me.” Deep aquamarine eyes focused on her for just a moment, then flickered shut. Again, he lay still as death.

Trembling, KC crawled to his side and placed hesitant fingers on the column of his throat. There, beneath the warm, smooth skin, she could feel the blood pulsing through his veins.

Alive. He was alive!

Where can readers find your books? (buy link)



I love hearing from readers and other authors. They can contact me through my web site or on Facebook.


7 thoughts on “An interview with Elysa Hendricks

  1. Hi Elysa,
    It’s a pleasure to see how well you are doing with your new projects! I didn’t know you had all these sexy cowboy story in you! Very cool! You are an inspiration!
    Wishing many sales and much more new stories!
    Marie-Claude 🙂

  2. Hi Everyone! Waving madly! Nice of you to stop in and read my excerpt. My first love has always been westerns, historical and contemporary. What’s not to love about a hot cowboy? :-)But then I love all romance novels from sweet contemporaries to the steamy erotic stuff. I just try and write the story rather than worrying about the sub-genre. 🙂

  3. Elysa, what a great teaser. I’m hooked. Thoroughly enjoy the blog, who doesn’t love a ‘HOT’ cowboy, can’t think of anyone. I know I like ’em. Keep writing.

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