Monday, October 1, 2012

Interview with Jody Hedlund

Please join me in welcoming author Jody Hedlund! Jody's here discussing her latest book, Unending Devotion. She's offered a copy to one of my readers, so be sure to check out the giveaway details below. :)

Welcome to Write Now, Jody! It’s great to have you back. Congratulations on Unending Devotion! The story had me from beginning to end.  Can you share a little about how this story came about? 

I live in central Michigan in an area that was once filled with towering white pines and that played a major role in the lumber era. I decided I wanted to explore that era, especially since it happened right in my backyard, so to speak. 

During my research for the book, I ran across stories of young women who were abused, exploited, and even enslaved. I was heartbroken to learn of these lesser known evils of an era that is usually quite glamorized. Unending Devotion is inspired by one of those women, Jennie King. She rode a train into central Michigan in answer to a newspaper ad for a job. She expected to work in a hotel. Instead she found herself enslaved in a brothel. She fled, but was recaptured and beaten. The brave and desperate woman escaped again, wearing only a nightgown, and this time gained help from a local family. The brothel owner tried to get her back again, but the family helped smuggle Jennie out of town and to a safe place.

      I can see how Jennie's story caught your eye. There are so many "stories behind the story" that that we never hear about. I'm glad you decided to highlight this part of Michigan history. I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of the book’s characters. What tips do you have for writers to create original characters? 
 For starters, I use an extensive character worksheet that I've made available on my website for free. I fill out the worksheet and really take the time before writing to get to know my characters inside and out. I try to find original quirks, hobbies, and personalities.

 Several other things that I do to create original characters is know their past history and how it's shaped who they are as the story opens. I also define their strengths so that readers will be able to care about the characters right away. But then I make sure to give them a weakness too, something they will need to work through as the story unfolds.  

I like the way you think! What a great way to get to know your characters, as you said, before the story unfolds. I can see where you are mentally "busy" all the time. You wear many hats – wife, mom, author, homeschool parent, etc. How do you manage to find time to write? 

It's definitely not easy. I feel like I have two very full time jobs as an author and a teacher! But like any other writer trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I've had to look for ways to make it work. I've scaled back on outside commitments and simplified home life as much as possible. I also stick to a very strict writing schedule when I'm in first draft mode. I block out writing time and don't let myself go to bed at night unless I get in my daily word count.
Do you ever combine your research with your children’s field trips?

Sometimes I try! But I like to linger and read all the details, and they get annoyed with me for taking too long! So when I really need to research, I usually go places with my husband. Although this fall, I'm taking my twin daughters and my mom to Mackinac Island in northern Michigan for a research trip for the book I'm currently writing. While I'm hoping to have a fun girls' weekend, I warned them that I would probably bore them at times with all my researching. 

Sounds like a good way to combine a little work and fun. Have a great time! Tell us, what is your favorite writing snack? 

That's easy! Coffee and chocolate! 

I figured that chocolate might factor in there! :) I know that Unending Devotion was just released, but is there another book on the horizon? Can you give us a peek?

Yes! My next book, A Noble Groom, is releasing in April of 2013. Like Unending Devotion, it's also set in Michigan, but this time among a German immigrant farming community. The story starts with the recently widowed Annalisa Werner believing that her husband was murdered but she can’t prove it. Alone with her young daughter, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He’s been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn’t commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he’ll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa’s farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He’s gentle, kind, and romantic–unlike any of the men she’s ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love–but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

Sounds interesting! I'll look forward to reading it. :) Thanks so much for stopping by to see us this week. Wishing you all the best!

You are welcome! It's always fun to come and visit. Thank you!

Feel free to visit Jody at her blog, website, or Facebook page. She'd love to see you!

My Review 

It is 1883, and Lily Young is desperate to find her younger sister Daisy. Daisy ran away, and Lily believes that she is still somewhere in Michigan. Thankfully, Lily’s work as a traveling photographer’s assistant provides opportunities to keep her eyes and ears open. 

Connell McCormick runs the Harrison, Michigan branch of his family’s lumber business. As far as he is concerned, Harrison’s social ills are just that – an unpleasant entity that isn’t worth fighting. His responsibilities keep him occupied full time; he must prove to his father that he can shoulder his portion of the business.

Lily and Connell’s first meeting is a tangled mess. Literally. Lily’s headstrong personality and lofty principles cause a stir in Harrison, and she hasn’t even been in town 24 hours. Connell admires Lily’s drive to find her sister, but he witnesses how it clouds Lily’s common sense, causing problems not just for Lily, but also for those around her. Both Connell and Lily reap the unfortunate results of Lily’s impulsive behavior.

Lily’s story illuminates the widespread abuse of young women in a pivotal time in America’s lumber industry. It was common practice to promise women jobs at hotels and such, when in reality, they were forced into prostitution. Does Lily find Daisy? Will Connell choose to take a stand against depravity in Harrison?

Jody Hedlund shares a wonderful and engaging tale packed with conflict, romance, and forgiveness. Her characters’ goals collide at every turn, it seems, generating a roller coaster ride of adventure through an icy Michigan winter. This emotional story offers hope and redemption that is relevant even today. I give it two thumbs up!


Giveaway Details

  • You must be a GFC follower and leave your email address with your comment. 
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include link with your comment where applicable.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is 5 pm EST Friday October 5, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, October 8, 2012.

Do you have any questions for Jody? What kind of fictional characters do you enjoy?

Happy reading and writing,



  1. Hi Karen & Jody,

    Great interview!

    Your comment about the era being romanticized is so true. Then again, a lot of historical periods have been shown through rose-colored glasses.

    Thanks for giving a clear picture of the struggles women endured. I'm looking forward to reading your book.

    susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

    I'm a follower of Write Now.

    Susan :)

  2. I've always created detailed character sheets before I begin writing. If I don't know the characters well, I can't write their story accurately.

    Good luck, Jody!

  3. Your kids will appreciate the research trips later in life!

  4. Susan,
    Thank you! I agree, so many of the eras and things have been portrayed differently. Added your name to the list! :)

    Yes, knowing a character is a good thing! Thanks for weighing in!

    You are probably right! Sort of like how now I regret not continuing piano lessons. My Mom said I would...:)


  5. LOL, kids are not so patient when it comes to writer-mom doing her research. I learned that the last time I went to a museum with them.

  6. Wonderful interview! I think a lot of history is romanticized and cringe when people talk about the "good ol' days" because really, evil was as rampant then as it is now. Your next book sounds very romantic!
    Thanks for sharing, ladies. :-)

  7. Wonderful interview with Jody. Wishing her lots of good luck.

  8. Lydia,
    Well, maybe someday they'll get into it. You never know! :)

    Thanks so much! :) You are right, and people were still people then too. I agree, I like the sound of the new book too!

    Thank you! It's always great to have Jody stop by!


  9. The plot sounds fascinating! I read Jody's last book and enjoyed it. Best wishes to her!

    Rhonda Schrock

  10. I would like to read books set in Michigan. Jody's stories sound very interesting. I like the way she maps out her characters. I did a shorter version on one of my books.

  11. Hi Jody and Karen! Thanks for sharing the interview. I love Jody's characterization tips. And Jody, I just saw your Mackinac pictures on Facebook. I'm so glad to hear there's a book in the works there. Such a beautiful place!

  12. Rhonda,
    It is! You just might like this one! Got you on the list. :)

    Well this one is an interesting read! Hope you get a chance to read it. :)

    You are welcome! You know you can count on Jody for a good story! :)


  13. Hi Everyone!

    Thanks for stopping by Karen's blog today and celebrating my new book release with me! And a BIG thank you to Karen for interviewing me today! It's lovely to be back! :-)

  14. Great interview, ladies! Love your books, Jody. I look forward to reading, Unending Devotion soon.

  15. It is not surprising to read that women are often mistreated, either abused or forced into unhealthy occupation in a society. Such situation has just become the force to protest against rights as equal as men and fight for freedom and individuality.

    Karen, it's just the book I want to read at the moment.
    Thank you
    Have a Good day!

  16. Loree,
    Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it. :) Hope you get to read the book soon!

    Hope you can get a copy where you are - you just might enjoy it. You are right, this abuse happens way too much.


  17. Jodi amazes me!She comes up with such great plot ideas!

  18. Hi Karen...Great interview. Thanks so much for sharing. The author is pretty, too! Very, very pretty. The book sound quite intriguing. The fact that it's modeled after actual history makes it even more meaningful. Take care, Karen. You know that I'm a follower.

  19. I love how she got her idea for the book! Sounds like a great read!

  20. Terri,
    I know, she has great ideas! :) Can't wait to read the next book.

    Thank you! Jody is pretty. :) You just might like this one. Added you to the list! How is that sweet granddaughter doing? :)

    It is a great read. I hope you get to read it!


  21. what a great interview. Lovely you to meet you Jody, and your story sounds powerful!


  22. Fantastic interview ladies! I learned a bit about Michigan history that I was unaware of.

    I like the way you develop your characters, Jody! What a wonderful worksheet to make available for others writers.

    I'm thoroughly enjoying your book and am looking forward to hosting you on my site in November! God bless you both!

  23. Hi Karen & Jody,

    Great interview! I'm looking forward to reading your book, Judy.


  24. Nutschell,
    Thanks so much! :) It's always nice to have Jody along. I do believe her story is powerful.

    Thank you! Jody's a good guest. The worksheet - I know, I need to check it out! :)

    Thank you! Thanks for coming by. It's good to meet you! :)

    Thanks a bunch! Hope you enjoy it! :)


  25. Karen, You find the most interesting writers to interview. I have mid-western roots and this book looks too good to pass up. Best wishes to Jody.

  26. Unending Devotion -- what a story behind the story. Sounds like a good read!

  27. Sounds good to me, put my name in the hat.

  28. I love the story that moves the writer to write, what they learn when they do research. It looks like a lovely book and as always, enjoyed meeting another new to me writer!

  29. Susan,
    Thank you! I am blessed to know Jody through blogging initially. If you don't win, make sure you pick this one up! :)

    I know - love the title! There are several story threads here and they make a great package!

    I've got you down! If you don't win, hope you can pick up a copy!

    It is inspiring, isn't it? Glad to introduce you to Jody! :)


  30. Thanks for the interview, Karen. I'm a big Jody Hedlund fan and can't wait for these books to hit Aussie shelves.
    Both sound like delicious reads and I'm a sucker for historical romance, wherever the setting might be.
    Dotti xx

  31. I enjoyed the interview! How exciting that you are doing a research trip to Mackinac Island. I've wanted to go there and the Grand Hotel ever since I saw 'Somewhere in Time' years ago. LOL The pictures I've seen from that area are gorgeous.

    I can't wait to see what you have planned.

    Thanks, Karen for hosting. No need to enter me in the contest...I just wanted to chime in. :)
    Amy O'Quinn

  32. These sound like great stories. I'll look forward to reading them!

  33. Karen and Jody, thank you for this reminder. I've met to mark UNENDING DEVOTION in Goodreads as a must read. I'm going there right now before I forget again. Jody, thanks!

  34. Dotti,
    You are welcome! I am fairly certain that you would like this book. When you read it, you will have to let me know, okay? :)

    It's good to meet you! Thanks so much for chiming in. I really appreciate it! :)

    It is a great story; there are many layers. It really makes you think, too. :)

    You are welcome! Saw on FB that you added it in Goodreads, so glad to be of help. :) Enjoy it!


  35. On many occasions I have tested the theory that chocolate is good for inspiration. I found it to be true...

    Wonderful interview!!
    Best wishes to you, Jody!

  36. Jody's blog was among the first ones I started following when I began blogging. I still have a copy of The Preacher's Bride that I haven't read yet. I need to start reading more.

    Tossing It Out

  37. Lynda,
    Yes, I have to concur; my research has shown the same results with chocolate. :) Glad you enjoyed the interview!

    Me too! She was among one of my earlier followers. The Preacher's Bride is another good one! Hope you get to read it soon.


  38. Great review, Karen!

    I enjoyed Jody's book, too--I love learning about the history of our amazing country--both the good and the ugly!

    Bless you!

  39. Great interview ladies and review Karen. I love the plot of this story and look forward to reading. Yes, women have been treated as pawns for men since the beginning of time. I read The Preachers Bride and enjoyed so much Jody. Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  40. Cheryl,
    Thank you! It's a great book, isn't it? Jody's always got something good to share. :)

    Thanks for stopping by! If you liked The Peacher's Bride, I think you just might like this one too!

    Karen :)

  41. Hi Karen and Jody - certainly sounds interesting ... plenty went on that was apparently acceptable, yet definitely was not. Sadly the same thing occurs today with different peoples, though the same characters men and young girls ....

    Thanks for the review .. I hope to read at least one of Jody's books one day soon.

    Cheers Hilary

  42. Hilary,
    It was a good read. Jody always has something interesting to share, and such a talent for putting it all together! Hope you get to read one soon. :)


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