Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Eileen Emerson!

Today we’re welcoming my very most FAVORITE Mermaid (*spoiler alert*: she just happens to be my CP, my brilliant editor, and my LITTLE SISTER in real life!!!), Eileen Emerson, 2016 Golden Heart Finalist in Historical Romance with AN UNBRIDLED GENTLEMAN.

eileen author photo copyEileen spent years getting a Master’s degree in costume design for the theatre, and then chucked it all to make her way in the world of Corporate America. She eventually turned her creative focus to writing, and began submitting her work to the contest circuit, with excellent results—in addition to collecting notable wins from “Emily” and “Maggie” and “Sheila,” she got a Golden Heart nod in 2012, and is now a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Pennsylvania with either two or four enormous dogs (the number depends on whether the neighbors’ dogs have barged in through the screen door), her guitar-playing son, and her professor husband, who manages to be both deeply romantic and really, really good with computer stuff, making him the ideal mate for a romance writer.

Here’s a blurb for AN UNBRIDLED GENTLEMAN:

On the run from an assassin for the past dozen years, Anne Barrett wonders if she can finally stop pretending to be a horse trainer’s niece and try to reconnect with whatever is left of her aristocratic family. But to earn funds for her search, she must first rehabilitate a horse for Lord Norland—a man forced by circumstance to accept his grandmother’s offer of wealth in exchange for rebuilding her once-famous stud farm in Yorkshire.

Thrown together with Lord Norland more often than Anne’s equilibrium might like, she discovers that to heal the poor beast, she’ll also have to help the troubled lord face the childhood trauma that has left him with a deep fear of horses. When attraction sparks between them, Anne and Norland both have more to fear—courting a commoner could ruin Norland, while revealing her true identity could alert her parents’ killer that Anne is still alive.

What she doesn’t realize is that the assassin has already tracked her down . . . .

It’s such a fabulous story, everybody!!!! As Eileen’s CP, I’ve seen it grow and ripen from first concept to the mature version, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Anne and Norland (and Anne’s dog Tip, and Uncle Ned, and Norland’s hilariously crotchety grandmother, and THE HORSE!!) It’s a smart, sweet, sexy, satisfying, beautifully-written, character-driven story that NEEDS TO BE OUT IN THE WORLD. SOON!!!!

Seriously, SOON!!!!!

(*Elisa catches breath*) . . .

So, anyhow, Eileen’s here today to share some wise words of inspiration from a surprising relative!! (And, no, it’s not me.)

Take it away, Eileen!!


One of the best things about being married to my husband (besides our terrific son and a bevy of fur-kids), is that our merged ancestry means I can claim Ralph Waldo Emerson as kin.

And Ralph – I can call him “Ralph” now that we’re cousins-many-times-removed – is the king of great quotes.



See that? It’s great! And so helpful for someone like me who is often riddled with self-doubt, especially when it comes to my manuscripts. Unlike my sister Elisa, I don’t have degrees in writing from prestigious universities. I have nothing but a teetering stack of writing craft books by experts like Debra Dixon, Chris Vogler, and Michael Hauge. Even that folder of contest certificates does little to bolster my self-confidence.

But Ralph? He comes up with gems like this that soothe my quivering soul:



Isn’t that lovely? Don’t you feel better about yourself? And, do you know what? I think it’s true. After this latest round of edits, I had a real sense that all these gems of knowledge I’ve been accumulating were falling into place, as if the tumblers in a lock were aligning each time I sat down to fiddle with a scene or beef up the dialogue.



Aye, there’s the rub.

As my critique partners have repeatedly told me, it’s far past time that I toss my babies out into the world of queries and submissions. Which has me quaking in my boots. I’m a terrible sissy sometimes, regardless of the fact that I’m fearless about so many other things in my life. Need to know how to bake gluten-free? No problem—just find some recipes that work, and go from there. Need to plant up a garden? Pfffft, grab a shovel and get cracking. What’s the worst that can happen?

But… send my writing to an agent or editor? I’m rendered motionless with terror.

Well, in comes Cousin Ralph to egg me on, to tell me that I have to face my fears and conquer them (or never get anywhere in the publishing world.) What good is my endless tinkering and fussing if no one ever gets to see these stories?



Oh, all right, Ralphie-boy. I’ll do it. I won’t waste my life in doubts and fears, and I’ll trust in my knowledge and skill, and fling my manuscripts into fray.

Just after I read through them o-o-o-o-o-n-e more time.

Tell me, readers, what are your writing fears? And how do you plan to face them and do Ralph Waldo Emerson proud?

Oh, and just in case you don’t already think RWE is a stinkin’ genius, I leave you with this:



Leave a comment below to get a chance to win a PRINT copy of your choice of the books Eileen has edited for Elisa (in her Lara Archer persona). You can check them out on Amazon here.


Connect with Eileen Emerson on social media:

find her on Facebook

or follow her ramblings on Twitter: @MsEmersonWrites

(and you can see her 2012 interview with Elisa here)


79 responses to “Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Eileen Emerson!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Eileen!!! It’s awesome to have you back here again!

    Can I throw in another Emerson quote?:
    “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

    Personally, I credit YOU with kicking my butt so that my writing fears wouldn’t bog me down. You’re the most inspirational Emerson I know!!

    • I’ll let Ralphie-boy know you have faith in me, Elisa!

      And, seriously, get to work on the sequel to Bared to the Viscount, and the sequel to that, and the sequel to that. If you don’t let me read Sam’s story soon, I think I’ll explode!

  2. Elizabeth King says:

    Hi Eileen
    Love the sound of your book! And your “cousin” certainly has some great quotes.
    I have all the usual writing fears – the main one being, of course, that I’m terrified of putting things out there for fear of rejection! Much easier to tinker about with it over and over again until it’s perfect.
    Looking forward to meeting you in San Diego!

  3. I suffered from the same malady–until I sent a copy of Zhena Muzyka’s (of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea fame) book “Life by the cup: inspiration for a purpose-filled life” to one of my besties, who turned it into the Sisterhood Circle, 3 women who gather every 3 months to talk about what we want, what’s stopping us and what we need to do/have/think to get past those blockages. It was here that I decided I was going to enter the GH and worked like crazy to meet the deadline. The accountability helped–not to mention the cheering me on.

    I’ve worked on a lot of cr@p over the past year and I will now be happy when I send off my (finally!) revised ms to the agent who requested it this weekend. I love my book, and I trust Ralph’s right when he talks about the universe conspiring 🙂

    Can’t wait to meet you in SD *and* pick up a copy of your book when it’s out 🙂

  4. I can’t wait to see your now-balanced member badge at VFRW! 🙂 Seriously, I believe you got a 2nd GH nod because having just one put your badge askew. Well, that and you’re DAMN GOOD at what you do!

    My beloved CP believes I’m afraid to succeed, and I fear she’s correct. Thanks for the kick in the trousers; time to get back to work.

    I’ll be SCREAMING for you for the GH awards!! Don’t be shocked if you hear it all the way in San Diego!

    • I’ll make sure I’m wearing my Weasley Wizard Wheezes extendable ears so I can hear you, Caroline.

      And, if you overcoming your fears resulted in my being able to read your books and cheer on your successes, then I’m eternally thankful you pulled up your big girl panties and did it.

      Smooches to you!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      “I believe you got a 2nd GH nod because having just one put your badge askew.”

      LMFAO here….you DO know my sister, Caroline!!

  5. Addison Fox says:


    This is an AWESOME post!!!! I love love love everything you’ve shared and the quotes are awesome!!

    Here’s to being VERY sassy fiddles. Wishing you all good things in San Diego this year!!!


  6. Seana Kelly says:

    ‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.’ –RWE
    Great blog, Eileen! Fear is a nasty, little f#cker, isn’t it? For me, ignoring or moving past the self-doubt is related to the quote above. If a writer is who I’m truly supposed to be, then I have to work toward that goal. Fear be damned. Will I, the introvert with social anxiety, enjoy pitching in San Diego? About as much as a fork in the eye. I’ll be lining up to do my pitches, though. I might even hang around to pick up additional ones. Will I be drinking heavily afterwards? Just try to ignore the woman sitting alone in a dark corner with a large cocktail in front of her. It’s purely medicinal. 😉

    • It’s easy to say “Don’t be scared,” but I’m going to say it. Pitching is nerve-wracking, but you just have to keep in mind that the person on the other side of that pitch table **WANTS** to discover you as much as you want to be discovered. Go in with that attitude and just be excited about what you write.

      And, as one introvert to another, you can sit beside me. I promise not to even talk if what you need is just to recoup your energy for a few minutes. (But I hope you’ll talk — I can’t wait to get to know you better.)

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      You know that “introvert with social anxiety” describes the majority of writers….we all just have to remember to drink together.

  7. Eileen,

    I hope you know I will be cheering for you on GH/Rita night! And I LOVE this story—it’s totally my jam. 🙂

    Wishing you the best of luck—which you don’t really need, because you’ve got a GREAT story!!!

  8. Diana Layne says:

    Love it, Eileen and welcome back to the Rubies! I post quotes all the time (I have books of quotes) and I’m going to steal these Emerson quotes, I love them, too! You come from a family of greatness obviously, with you and your sister both brilliant writers! Best of luck!

  9. Diane Holiday says:

    Love the Emerson quotes! Four dogs! Yikes, I struggle with one. Your book sounds really interesting. Best of luck in the finals. Forever Mermaids.

    • Luckily, my two dogs are sweet and biddable, which makes the fact that the neighbors’ dogs are… em… less-than-biddable more bearable. And I have to say that I quite love having my sunporch floor covered in sleeping dogs — it’s lovely to have company while the guys in my household are still tucked up in their beds.

      • Elisa Beatty says:

        At least you never have to worry about leftover pancakes on Pancake Day.

        (For the record, all four of those dogs think Eileen is the alpha wolf….and she happily spoils them in return.)

  10. Lyz Kelley says:


    Remember when we had a discussion about beautifully written crap…those lovely words on a page that went nowhere. You lady…don’t have to worry anymore. You and your words are going places.

    You’ve worked so hard for so many years. This is your time, so don’t let those negative voices, that we all have, hold you back. Put on those Minnie Mouse ears, laugh at the world, and go forth.

    Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

    The world needs to hear your voice and read your fabulous books!!!

    Hugs! See you soon!!!

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, lady! I can’t tell you the amount of “beautifully written crap” I’ve excised from my manuscripts this past year.

      Oy! If only I had a time machine and could go back and convince myself to write the way I do now.

  11. Abby Sharpe says:

    Do it, Eileen! Doooooooooo ittttttttttt!

  12. Jackie Himmel says:

    Super inspirational. I’d share my writing fears, but–I’m afraid to. :). Can’t wait to read an Unbridled Gentleman. You go, Ms. Emerson. Get your fabulous books out there.

  13. Susanna Malcolm says:

    Nice post, Eileen, and very relevant. Self-doubt is a butt-head.

    And do mine eyes deceive me or are you and your sister curly-haired?? Once we get done pitching, we can compare conditioners! Along with that drink with Seana.

  14. Tracy Brody says:

    One of my writing fears is that people will not love my characters. That would hurt my feelings.
    While rejection is NEVER fun, I’ve come to accept it’s part of the process and I got my “Yes” from a great agent – just waiting on the “Yes” from the right editor. Then I’ll proceed to the next stage of fear that people won’t buy or like my book.

    Start querying! I believe in you. Sending virtual hugs of encouragement – and real ones in San Diego.

    • Tracy Brody says:

      And then there’s the fear that people will question your ability to write when you have a typo in a blog and don’t have the ability to fix it. UGH!
      *I believe in you.*

    • The WIP I was working on prior to the GH final (which sent me back into editing mode on an older ms) has a “difficult” heroine. She introverted, in mourning, and rather sarcastic.

      So, I totally get your fears that readers might not like this sweet creature I’ve created/befriended.

      But, you’re correct — we must push past, mustn’t we?!

      • Tracy Brody says:

        I have a character on my spec ops team that is immature and annoying — intentionally. One of my beta readers (who is military and knows guys who are like him) “hates” Dominguez – but she says it laughing and loves when he gets put in his place. He has to grow up before he gets his story and HEA. 😉

  15. Beth Long says:

    Big hugs and congratulations, Eileen! I love the quotes and will be stealing them, too!

    I learned a lot about conquering fears when I took up skiing at the ripe, old, breakable-bones age of 35. Just like writing, I LOVED skiing, but it scared me witless every time I clicked into the bindings. I finally got tired of having the fear interfere with something I loved doing. So I invested in my own equipment, took lessons, and made myself get out there. And it worked! I still get nervous sometimes, but nerves just mean we’re alive.

    Ha! I almost wrote, “there were still nerves.” But I did the same thing with my writing: I invested in myself. I took classes and workshops and showed up to every VFRW meeting I could get on the calendar. I put my butt in the chair and I made myself write, even when I didn’t think it was good. I made myself get out there. And now I recognize “telling” in my writing 9 times out of 10, even though I still somehow default to it. ;D

    Stress and fear are things we do to ourselves. But we can learn to tell the stress to go away and the fear to be quiet.

    Best of luck to you an all your fellow GH finalists, Eileen! I wish you could all take home trophies! But I’m thinking that if you’re putting yourselves and your writing out there, you’re already winners.


    • Elisa Beatty says:

      “nerves just mean we’re alive”–that’s a great point, Beth!!

      Recently, I read an article that recommended (when you feel nervous and therefore paralyzed) telling yourself “I’m SO EXCITED!”

      The article claimed that small cognitive shift can take those very same debilitating nerves and turn them into positive energy that actually helps you get the work done.

    • Winging my way down a slope was once a singular pleasure of my youth. Now… my old bones ache at the very thought!

      But, WHAT A THRILL!

      I think I need more of that in my life, so thanks for the kick in the pants, friend.

  16. Welcome, Eileen, and super big congratulations!!! 😀 Such talent in your family. See you at RWA!

    • Thanks so much! Can’t wait for Conference this time around. (I was scared witless last time, but I’m determined to not let that hold me back in 2016.)

  17. Congratulations, Eileen. I just love the sound of An Unbridled Gentleman. Thanks for stopping by and have a great time at Conference!

  18. McCall Hoyle says:

    Love this post! Love RWE! Right now my brave act is just doing something writing related each day so that I feel like I’m making progress.

    Can’t wait to see you in SD!

    Mermaids forever.

    • I like that — even writing-related efforts are important. I not only have to put my own words on the page, it’s great to read words other writers have put down for my enjoyment. (It’s why I adore having Elisa for a CP — I get all those lovely books a bit earlier than everyone else!)

  19. Melanie Novak says:

    One of my favorite posts in this GH series! I love all the Emerson quotes.

    I’m a lover of inspirational quotes, and your “cousin Ralphie” has some great ones!


    • Thanks! (The photos are all my own. Hidden in there are my son, my garden, one of my nephews, and my lovely niece — the one who designed our mermaid image!)

      And isn’t Ralphie-boy the very bestest at giving inspirational quotes?!

  20. Kate Forest says:

    This story sounds great. Hope to read the whole thing soon.

  21. Hi Eileen!

    Wow! I LOVE the sound of your story. Can hardly wait to read!!

    I also thought your quotes were inspiring. Kind of along the lines of Hugh Laurie’s quote in my blog. Do it now, and do the best you can do, but do it now.

    Yup. Wise words.

  22. Aw I love this!!! Super big congrats! Your story sounds amazing!

  23. What a great post, Eileen. I love all the quotes, especially “Always do what you’re afraid to do.” I am looking forward to meeting you in San Diego. 🙂

  24. Your story sounds wonderful!!

    I’ve had trouble submitting too. I can count on one hand how many times and how many places I’ve submitted to.

    • You’re doing better than I.
      I can count my submissions on ONE FINGER! 😉

      (Seriously, I’ve only submitted to one agent, and only because she absolutely insisted. She later declined, but at least it made me eligible for PRO.)

  25. Rayn Ellis says:

    Congrats on another GH final, Eileen! Great story. And, wow, there’s a ton of talent in your family, including your cousin Ralphie 😉 and your niece who designed our Mermaid pin. :):)

    Writing fears? I have ALL of them but my biggest one is being a “one book wonder.” I love writing more than anything but I fear that my current WIP is the first and last.

    As for rejection, I just read an awesome article that totally changed how I thought about it. I highly recommend it!

    Can’t wait to meet you (and Elisa) in SD!

    • Ooooh, I’ll read that article right away!

      It’s funny how we let doubt and fear sabotage us, isn’t it. Although all three of my books have done well in contests, it wasn’t until I received the second Golden Heart nod that I actually thought, “Well, I’m not a fluke.”


      Write, and have faith in yourself.

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I think probably even Stephen King feels that way….”What if this is it? What if this is the last? What if no more good ideas come to me?”

      You have a creative mind….more stories will spring up through the soil no matter what you do.

      Just trust in your imagination!!

      See you soon!!!

  26. Melonie says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party, but what a fabulous post! And yes, I often feel like Marty McFly, unable to face the soul sucking possibility of rejection. It is a scary thing we do, but we can do it. It sounds like your hand is stacked with aces, so go for it and take the risk, gamble, it’s time to play cards 😉

    • The funny thing about gambling, *I SUCK AT IT!*

      Honestly, my family always had a beach house near Atlantic City. I’d go over with my siblings, and watch my brother and sister come out with hundreds. I would run through my cash and start getting out the credit card, which made the Professor drag me out of there, PRONTO.

  27. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks so much, Eileen, for being here with the Rubies and for sharing some awesome inspiration from Mr. Emerson!!!

    The winner of the Lara Archer book is McCall Hoyle! McCall, I’ll be in touch!

    See you all in San Diego!!!

  28. Nicole Hohmann says:

    Late to the party. Eileen and Elisa, you two are so entertaining, I can’t wait to read your books when they are published. Eileen, I can’t believe you haven’t queried agents yet! It is frightening, but as your quotes say….
    Anyway, looking forward to meeting you in San Diego and best of luck.

    • Well… don’t feel bad. I’m late to responding!!

      I’m hoping to drag Elisa to the Mermaids’ gathering on Tuesday. We’ll do our best to entertain (once we get over our natural introversion.)

      Oh, and I have queried. Once. That was nerve-wracking enough for me, but it got me my PRO status.

  29. Lynn Kellan says:

    I can’t wait to read your book in print, Eileen! Love you and so proud of you!! Hugs, Lynn

  30. Your book sounds fantastic, Eileen! I love historical RS and this has all the earmarks of a bestseller. Thank you so much for organizing the pin design for our class. You’re wonderful to all of us!

    • I was happy to the arrange the pin! (And I’m happy my niece was available to do the artwork for us.) I’m so happy with it, and I’ll wear it proudly… right next to my Firebirds pin.


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