1. Tell us a little about your journey in signing with Amanda of the McGregor agency.
I met Amanda at the 2010 ACFW conference—my very first writer’s conference where I’d be pitching my first completed novel. Leading up to the conference, I’d researched the agents attending, and Amanda was my first choice. At the end of our meeting, Amanda told me no but graciously offered to critique my first chapter. Hindsight, I realize that I was far from ready and that book entirely the wrong fit. But at the time, I was devastated. I naïvely thought once an agent or editor had told you no, it meant NO forever and ever. The. End. That’s why the following year at the 2011 conference I didn't include Amanda in my three picks for agent meeting. I figured she wouldn't want to meet with me again, especially since I was pitching the same story. My inner critic agreed with this strategy, but God apparently had other plans.
Upon arrival at the conference, I found out that I hadn't been given any of the agents I'd selected for my meeting. Instead, I'd been assigned to meet with—you guessed it—Amanda! My inner critic had a panic attack and almost drove me to cancel the meeting, but a long, prayer-filled phone call with my parents convinced me to go despite my fear. The meeting went well, and Amanda requested my full manuscript. That request turned into a highly unconventional offer to work with me on a trial basis. Two and a half years later, I ended up signing with Amanda the day before my 24th birthday! I’m so glad God had a different plan.
2. What projects are you working on at the present?
I have two projects in the works right now. I’m editing a Steampunk, suspense novel currently titled Clockwork Deception. Of all the stories I've written thus far, this one is my favorite! I've called it my discovery novel because it was while writing Clockwork Deception that I finally felt like I’d discovered my writing voice, brand, and ideal genre. Funny that it took writing three different genres to find my niche. Along with Clockwork Deception, I'm also beginning work on a novella.
3. When you were a teenager, someone once told you to forget about writing because it is too hard. How did you overcome that? What would you say to aspiring writers now?
At first, I didn’t overcome. I gave up and didn’t write for two years. I figured that since Someone was older than me and had experience in the publishing industry, they must know what they were talking about. I didn’t have a shot.
But then the desire to write wouldn’t go away. The stories wouldn’t go away. As I neared graduation and prayed about my future, the dream of becoming an author refused to die. I finally overcame when I decided to follow where I felt God was leading me—despite the difficulty. Despite the naysayers. I realized that walking in obedience with God won’t always garner people’s good opinion or meet with their approval, and that’s okay.
My advice to aspiring writers is simply to never give up. Not for a day. Not for a second. If you feel that God has called you to write, then pursue His leading with passionate diligence. Write, write, and write some more. Don’t give up after the rejection. Don’t give up because of your fear. Don’t give up when the months stretch into years and it seems like it’s never going to happen. Don’t give up when you’re exhausted and weary of trying. At just the right time you will reap a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)
4. What was the most important thing you learned concerning your craft?
I've learned so much about writing in the past six years; it's hard to pick just one thing as being the most important. Conquering my Purple Prose. Learning the importance of Showing versus Telling. Grasping the concept of Subtext. More recently, how to delve deeper in my characters’ POV. Probably the most important thing I've learned concerning writing is that it's not about me. My success is ordained and determined by God, not by my level of talent or skill. Neither is my writing on me. I’m to sow seeds of diligence, hard work, and obedience, but God is responsible for the results. The harvest comes in His way, His timing, for His glory. Realizing that is both humbling and incredibly freeing.
5. Where do you get ideas for a book?
I always find this to be an awkward question because I don’t have a concrete answer. I've never gotten a story idea the same way twice! My first book (Unfinished Contemporary) was basically a fictionalized version of my life at the time. In other words, my therapy book. My second book (Completed Sci-Fi) sprang from a challenge you issued in fiction class to write something outside my comfort zone. That was my stretching book. Third book (Completed but a MESS) was a sequel to the Sci-Fi novel. My uh-oh-this-genre-isn’t-working-for-me book. Clockwork Deception developed gradually after I discovered the Steampunk genre one summer. The idea for my novella popped into my mind in the form of a plot concept while I was praying for story inspiration, and another story idea I’ve been nursing on the side was inspired by a series of dreams.
Update: Since Angela answered these questions for us, she has signed a contract with Barbour Publishing for a novella which will be included in a compilation. Here's a picture of the big moment!