I am so happy to introduce y’all to a new author friend, Emily C. Reynolds! Emily’s debut novel Picture Perfect released at the beginning of March – I’ll let her tell you about it!
Hi Emily! Welcome to the blog! Tell us a little about yourself to get started.
My name: Emily Hendrickson
My pen name: Emily C. Reynolds
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!
I’m married to an amazing guy, the inspiration for my storybook heroes and my biggest cheerleader on this publication journey. Eight years ago, we adopted a four-year-old boy from China. When people hear that they often say, “Wow! He is so blessed!” And we shake our heads and smile, because inside we know we’re the ones who are so blessed.
I love this quote from The Strength of Mercy by Jan Beazely:
“We all carry an orphan’s broken heart. But God sent His Son so that we could have the opportunity to be adopted into His family. His Son came in mercy and intervened on our behalf when we were helpless. He bought back our empty lives. He redeemed us. He gave us His name. Everything He is and has becomes ours.”
Carrie: What great truth!!!
Now, tell us a little about Picture Perfect!
Emily: 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 sneak peek into 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 he can’t dodge the guilt he feels over causing his best friend’s death. 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 . . .
Carrie: I love this setup!! I want to know if he ever figures it out lol.
Any behind-the-scenes stories you can share with us?
Emily: I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who love watching movie outtakes and blooper reels or learning about the inspiration behind a book, or a piece of art or music. So I’ll share a funny tidbit about my story.
Picture Perfect grew out of bits and pieces of my real—and imaginary—life. And sometimes the two entwined, rather hilariously. While writing, it’s normal for authors to get caught up in the characters’ lives. Yes, we know they’re make-believe (mostly). But as they develop, they acquire lives of their own. They do things we don’t expect, say things that surprise us, get into all sorts of trouble.
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 I knew, 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.
Carrie: What… you mean people don’t do that? 😉
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Emily: If you enjoy writing, then do it because you enjoy it, and don’t give up. It’s hard work, no question, but it needs to be enjoyable and fun otherwise it will become a burden.
The biggest challenge on my path to publication was twofold—not giving up and, well, not giving up. By that I mean not giving up on the dream of one day seeing my book in print, but also not giving up the fun of writing. Don’t let anyone fool you. Writing is hard. Many people don’t realize the years of labor involved. I had no idea what I was doing when I first started writing, so Picture Perfect got completely revamped multiple times. Was it hard? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes! I loved learning how to plot a good story, and I absolutely love the result. But it took seven years to get to this point.
What are some things that have helped you on your writing journey?
Emily: I am blessed to have a fantastic critique group that helps me hone my stories, and I have an amazingly dedicated agent, Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency, who loves my “voice” and writing style and absolutely refused to give up until she found the right home for my stories at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
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 writers, agents, and editors as well as take classes to help me learn more about the writing craft.
Carrie: Support is so important, isn’t it? Having a tribe to encourage and motivate you!
Emily, thank you so much for stopping by the blog today! I’ve enjoyed meeting you 🙂
Emily: Thanks for letting me share a little about my writing journey! I hope you enjoy a few giggles and sigh moments reading Picture Perfect. I love to connect with readers. Find me on Facebook under Emily C Reynolds or at my web site www.EmilyCReynolds.com.
Emily Reynolds writes contemporary, faith-filled romance novels filled with laughs and small-town charm. She loves exploring the mystery of falling in love, God’s redemptive grace, and laugh-out-loud humor.
Emily graduated from Gordon College in Massachusetts with degrees in English Language & Literature as well as Biblical Studies. She’s earned her living as a professional wedding photographer, high school English teacher, newspaper copy editor, piano teacher, and women’s self-defense instructor.
She has been involved in American Christian Fiction Writers and won national writing awards for contemporary romance. She lives in southern Maine with her husband and son.