Emily Belden is an author for Harlequin/Harper Collins. She inked a two-book deal with them in 2016, and her debut novel “Hot Mess” will come out in 2017 via imprint, Graydon House. In 2018, “Husband Material” will be released. Emily pitched her first book, the memoir “Eightysixed.” In 2015, she signed with famed literary agency, Browne & Miller along with 44 Blue Productions in Burbank, CA. The studio is adapting her memoir into a comedic series.
A lot of bloggers hope to translate their writing into a full-fledged, published book. How did you do it?
I began writing several entries about things going on in my life. Some I published to my blog and some I did not. Eventually, I reached a critical mass where I found myself saying…this could be a movie. Or this could be a book. Since they were all chronological, it wasn’t hard to turn them into chapters and eventually compile a full-length manuscript.
Please tell us a bit about your book Eightysixed.
It’s an 18-and-over show. Think: If Bridget Jones was a Chicago foodie with bad dating habits. It’s one of those laugh, cry, shake-your-head type of books. And then at the end, you’ll need tissues and your phone because you’ll be texting your BFF and saying you’ve got a book recommendation for her…
What is your writing process like?
In a word? Food. I swear I gain 10 lbs with every new manuscript. I can’t write unless I have something to mindlessly nosh on. My preference is a sandwich, but I’m also prone to cookies and wine. After that, my fingers just take off. I don’t “storyboard” anything out. When I sit down throw down some words, I truly have no clue where the story will go in that hour or two. It’s always a great surprise to me.
You’ve said that Eightysixed is a comedy of misses. What do you mean by that?
Each chapter highlights a few satirical “life lessons learned.” This isn’t a medical self-help book by any means, but I found humor in my missteps (aka the misses) and felt like others could relate. So instead of burying my mistakes, I raised them to the surface.
When did you first realize that you loved writing?
Ever since I was really little, I would write really creative letters to Santa and the Tooth Fairy. I’d also write persuasive essays to my parents when I wanted a new toy or to go on vacation. Instead of coloring or playing house, I’d write short stories about the wildest things. So writing has been my identity for as long as I can remember.
What have you learned about yourself as a result of blogging and writing novels?
I learned that I am a lot more fearless than I ever thought. I put a tell-all memoir out there for everyone (mom! dad! pre-school teacher!) to read and lived to tell about it.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently reading The Restaurant Critic’s Wife.
Your book is a memoir. Were you nervous about making certain parts of your life so public?
Absolutely! I wasn’t nervous that people would judge me. I was nervous I’d make them uncomfortable talking about sex, drugs, online dating, etc. so candidly, but realized there’s something for everyone to relate to in there. And if they couldn’t relate to it, well then at least they’d be entertained by it. I was also worried despite my best efforts to conceal the guilty, I might also get sued…but that’s another story!
What is a day as Emily like? Please walk me through a day!
My life is a lot different than when I was in the thick of Eightysixed. For starters, I’m married now. For those who haven’t read the book – I’m not telling to whom I’m married to (spoiler alert!). But we live a very exciting, fun, yet still normal life. Every morning starts by walking our two rescue pit bulls, then I sit down to do some writing, by the afternoon I answer press questions or fulfilling other commitments, and then dinner and mindless TV.
You and your husband tiled your bedroom floor in over 60,000 pennies – all heads up for good luck. What was that process like?
Long, but rewarding. We spent three months just the two of us working on this floor. Lots of bottles of wine, B-list Netflix movies, and Spotify playlists. But at the end of the day, we grew closer together making such a special memory that culminated with a live interview on the Today Show.
You’ve taken on more projects for Home Depot, CB2, Nixon, and more. What is that experience like for you two?
We work really well together! He’s obviously the creative, handy person, but I’m a bit more personable and organized. So a lot of the time, I am the face and voice of the project, but he’s the brains behind it all.
What is on your desk right now?
I don’t have a huge desk, because I tend to write everywhere a coffee shop, outdoor patio, couch, etc. That said, my mom has always called me Wonder Woman. I don’t know why like what clicked in her mind to draw the comparison, but every birthday she surprises me with some type of Wonder Woman collectible (lunchbox, doll, etc.). So, on my desk now I have a big Wonder Woman mug and put all my pens and markers in it.
What is your morning routine?
I start by walking my two dogs for about an hour. When I get back, I do a whole anti-aging skincare routine: Clarisonic, vitamin C serum, under eye cream, and day moisturizer with SPF. Then breakfast/lunch and writing!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Respond, don’t react. It’s really empowering to allow yourself the liberty of coming back to a challenge versus feeling the need to handle it right in the moment when you’re all worked up.
What is your career advice for other young professional women?
The lesson for everyone is this: Your story is worth it and there will always be people who will be willing to listen without judgment the whole way through.