I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Follow Your Dreams...Even When It's not Logical

Ponderer Teri Dawn Smith interviewed Angela before
leaving for England. As many of you know, Teri suffered
an aneurysm 10 days ago, and is recovering in a
hospital in Cambridge. She is doing better every day.
Please keep Teri and her family in your prayers.
We are posting this interview today to give you a glimpse
of Teri's heart--her desire to mentor and encourage
young writers. She was so excited for us to meet
Angela at ACFW--and is so proud of her success!

Angela Bell, 2010 Genesis Finalist

Today Angela Bell, 2010 Genesis Finalist, joins the MBT Ponderers.

Teri: ACFW 2010 conference was your first ever. As a younger writer, what was your overall impression of the conference?

Angela: At first, I was overwhelmed and very nervous. I couldn't possibly have anything to say to experienced writers. Not to mention the agents and editors. Talk about scary! I didn't know how I'd manage my nerves, but God had it under control. The other conference attendees welcomed me right away. Their kind encouraging words made me feel at home. I loved how at any moment you'd spot a group of people (usually total strangers) praying for each other.
At the conference I made new friends, learned more about writing, and enjoyed watching God work in my life and in the lives of others. I can't wait till the 2011 conference in St. Louis!

Teri: From my perspective, you worked the conference like a pro! Tell us how you first started writing.

Angela: I wrote my first "book" when I was five as a gift for my Mom on Mother's Day. It had exactly twelve sentences and illustrations that I drew myself. Impressive, I know. ;-) After that, it became a tradition to write a story or poem every year on Mother's Day. Later in high school I wrote short stories for my three younger siblings. I felt a joy and satisfaction every time I completed a story and read it aloud to my family. That's when I started thinking about pursuing writing as a career.

Teri: No wonder you’re so far along already! I understand you had a discouragement concerning writing when you were sixteen years old. Can you tell us about it?

Angela: When I was sixteen my Mom took me to a fiction writing work shop in our area. A published author had come to give writing tips and discuss their books. When the workshop ended, I waited in line to talk to the author. I shared my interest in fiction writing and dream of future publication. The author gave me "the look" and proceeded to tell me that getting published was near impossible, that nobody wanted to publish the kind of books I wrote, and to not bother trying. I quit writing for over a year.

Teri: Grrrr. It still makes my blood boil to hear about someone crushing the dreams of a teenager! That's pretty tough for a sixteen-year-old. What lifted you beyond it?

Angela: My wonderful Savior Jesus Christ! After I gave up writing, I didn't know what I was supposed to do with my life. One day my mom and I prayed, and we both felt that God wanted me to pursue fiction writing (despite the author's advice to not bother). I didn't know where I'd find the teaching I needed, but I trusted God.
A couple weeks later my mentor, Teri Dawn Smith, announced through my home school group's e-mail loop that she'd be teaching a course on fiction writing. Coincidence? I don't think so! Since then God has been faithful to open the right doors and opportunities at exactly the right time. I wouldn't be writing today if it weren't for the Lord's guidance.

Teri: It’s been a highlight for me to have you in my classes! As one of our younger writers, was there anything that was difficult at the ACFW conference? What advice would you give to younger writers attending the conference for the first time?

Angela: I don't think the things I found difficult at the conference differ much from the more seasoned writers. We all have the same fears and deal with the same issues. Fear of rejection. Insecurity. Self doubt. Lack of confidence. For me the most difficult thing was putting myself out there and pitching to editors and agents. My confidence will probably increase as I get older, but I'm not sure things like pitching to an editor will ever be "easy."

My advice for any writers attending the conference for the first time would be first to Breathe. Second, examine your expectations for the conference. Are your expectations so rigid that they don't give God room to move on your behalf? Don't go in with a list of things that have to happen for it to be a success. Go expecting God to open the right doors for you at the right time. His plans are often better than ours. I know God surprised me with some unexpected blessings at the conference.

Teri: Great advice for those of us at any age! What was your favorite conference experience?

Teri and Angela ready for the banquet.
Angela: It's hard to choose just one, but I'd have to say the thing I enjoyed most was being surrounded by kindred spirits. I've always felt out of place. At the conference, for the first time, I felt like I belonged. No one raised their eyebrows when I mentioned things like having characters talk in my head, or glazed over when I used my "crazy" writer terms like POV, RUE, or GMC. I'm so grateful that God has provided friends that get me.

Teri: So true! What are you working on now?

Angela: Right now I'm in the process of editing my first completed manuscript, again. :-) I'm also working on the sequel. Both are science fiction geared for older teens, and I have an idea budding in my head for another unrelated science fiction series.

Teri: I understand your family supports you enthusiastically, but your mother thought you'd write ballerina stories. Tell us about your venture into science fiction.

Angela: First, let me say that I have the most amazing supportive parents and siblings in the world! Second, my venture into science fiction was totally unplanned. I've read fantasy (C.S. Lewis and Tolkien) but never read sci-fi. I've always loved fairy tales with princesses and classics literature such as Jane Austen. Naturally Mom assumed my writing would reflect that and so did I. One year I started a contemporary story about a ballerina, but I . . . how should I say . . . got bored out of my mind.
Later I got a vague idea for a story. During plot development, to my surprise, it morphed into a sci-fi story about another planet. What surprised me even more was that I loved writing the genre. I'm a little behind on the sci-fi lingo, but I'm learning. Plus, I have a teen brother from another galaxy who helps me with the advanced technology and science details.

Teri: Anything else you'd like to share?

Teacher & student with Genesis certificates
Angela: Never give up your dream! No matter what people say or how many "looks" you get. Don't let someone rob you of the blessings God has in store for your life. We were all created by God for a purpose. He has planted in us gifts, talents and callings that He wants expressed from us as individuals so we can serve our generation well. If we deny the gift God has given us, we hurt not only ourselves, but the untold number of people God wants to touch through us. Don't squeeze into society's box of what's acceptable. Follow God's specific unique plan for your life, and He'll take you places you never imagined!

Teri: I’ve often said I teach the best students ever. Now you can see why. But get ready world, I have another student hot on Angela’s heels!

Have you ever had anyone squelch your dreams? How did you overcome?

22 comments:

  1. Angela, You've got tremendous insight. You're determination to pursue your dream of writing motivates me to pursue my dreams with more passion.
    Loved having the chance to meet you in Indy--and I look forward to seeing you next year at ACFW!

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  2. So beautiful and so honoring. This also contains great wisdom. As a mentoring mom and teacher, I know there is nothing greater than see your children and students succeed and even accomplish more than we do. In fact, Jesus promised that, too. So glad for your strong writing and spiritual foundations, Angela. Good to meet you and I know great things are ahead for you and through you!

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  3. Angela, it was a true joy getting to meet you at ACFW! So glad you have connected with such a warm and caring mentor, and I pray many blessings upon your future as a writer!

    Hugs,
    Myra

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  4. Hi Beth, it's such an honor to be with the Ponderers today! You are an amazing group of ladies. I'm glad you feel motivated to pursue your dream passionately. :)

    By the way, thank you for adding the dedication to Miss Teri. She deserves it!

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  5. Delores, I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. Thank you for your uplifting words! I'm so thankful for the people God has placed in my life to teach and guide me. (Shout out to my Mom and Dad. Love ya'll! :)

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  6. Hooray for family that supports a daughter's writing dreams! Priceless!

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  7. Myra, thank you for stopping by the Ponderers today and for your prayers. I am truly blessed to have such supportive friends.

    Hugs back atcha! :-)

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  8. Angela, thanks so much for sharing with such transparency. You are living out 1 Tim.:12 in a beautiful way. My throat got tight when I read what the published author told you, and I cheered when you moved beyond it to pursue the passion God has given you. I look forward to hearing more about how God decides to use you! Thanks for sharing your heart!

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  9. Great interview, and so nice to meet you at ACFW, Angela! Keep up that writing!!

    Praying for Teri!!

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  10. Angela, a lovely interview. Truly. I'm touched by your spirit and willingness to be obedient despite the setback you had. I was sixteen when I first wanted to write, so I appreciate the way you're striving to make your dream a reality. I loved meeting you at the conference, especially after hearing Teri talk about you so much. You looked so beautiful at the awards ceremony. Your family is one of life's greatest treasures. Thanks for being a part of Ponderers today.

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  11. Jeanne, thanks for sharing the verse from 1 Timothy. I need to put that one near my laptop. :)

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  12. Hey Melissa, I'm glad you liked the interview.

    Yes, everyone please continue to pray for Miss Teri. Your prayers make a difference.

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  13. Lisa, thank you for all your kind words. I feel like I'm the one being encouraged today. :-)

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  14. Great article, Angela. It was such a joy meeting you at ACFW. I'm glad you didn't let that curmudgeon get you off track for very long. Looking forward to reading your book when it's published. Soon!

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  15. LOL, thanks Pat! I'm adding curmudgeon to my list of favorite words. :-)

    Now I have to figure out a way to work the word curmudgeon into a sci-fi story. Hmmm . . . .
    I'll need to ponder this awhile. ;)

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  16. Angela, what a great interview! Thank you so much for sharing with us today. When I was 19 and pursuing fiction writer, I had a college professor tell me something very similar to what your "professional" told you. In addition to crushing my dreams he gave me D in his class because I lacked depth in my writing. I was crushed and quit pursuing writing. I am so proud of you that you didn't let the opinion of one guy get you down for long...I walked away from writing for TWENTY years because of one bitter college professor! It took a car accident and the subsequent injuries to get me to come back to it.

    What I love about people like Teri, and Susan May Warren, and so many others I have met (at ACFW 2009 since I was unable to attend in Indianapolis) is how encouraging they are to newer writers. In fact, it was the encouragement of many of these writers that got me back to my first love of writing after two decades away feeling sorry for myself.

    Keep up the good work, Angela!

    In addition, I stand in agreement with all of you as we continue to pray for Teri!

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  17. P. S. Angela, I am bummed I didn't get to meet you at ACFW as told me so much about you! Maybe next year! (Anyone know where it will be held in 2011?)

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  18. Not many of our students have the gift to articulate their journey. This has truly blessed me. First, by Angela and the bright future she has in front of her. And second, by Teri, especially as we have been praying for her. Teri, in true writer form, has shown, not told, what are the rewards of investing in other people. Hallelujah!

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  19. Wow, Heidi. It sounds like you've had to overcome a lot of obstacles. Aren't you glad that our God is faithful to carry us through? :)

    You're right, the people at ACFW are so sweet to new writers. I was surprised at the way everyone treated me like an equal.

    I'm sorry that we didn't get to meet at the conference in Indy. Hopefully we'll get to meet real soon. Keep up the writing!

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  20. Thank you, Donita for your comment. Your kind words mean a lot to me, especially the heartfelt description of Miss Teri. I have been blessed to have a mentor that is so willing to give of themselves.

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  21. Angela, sorry I didn't get to meet you, either. It's nice to get to know you a little better here. Thanks for sharing! And congrats on all your accomplishments so far!

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  22. Hi Jenness, thanks for stopping by to read my interview. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet this year, but it's great that we can chat on the Ponderers blog. :-)

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