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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ponderers Welcome Author Angela Bell

The Ponderers welcome back our friend, Author Angela Bell, and she has big news for us!

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 na├»vely 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!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Does a Writer Write?

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all. ~ Emily Dickinson

As I pondered this post, I thought of all the reasons I write, and all the answers I've gotten over the years when I ask writer friends why they write.

  •  I can't not write
  • The stories just have to come out
  • It's what God wants me to do
  • To tell a story
  • Because I have these characters in my head telling me their stories

And these are just a few. I can also state a few things that are not reasons writers write. 
  • For the money - if I take all the hours I've spent writing, I figure I may make a quarter an hour. Maybe. 
  • Fame
  • Prestige
  • Book signings
The four mentioned above are perks to writing sometimes, but I don't think any serious writer ever started writing for those reasons. No, I think most writers write because they love to tell stories, and not just any story but stories of hope. Writers want their words to make a difference in this world. 

Once I received an email from a reader who said she struggled with the same thing my heroine struggled with, and reading about how my heroine dealt with the problem helped her. And not just her, but because she now had closure, her whole family was going to be better off. I couldn't keep from crying. 

And my heart sang with the words: That's why I write.

If you are a writer, leave a comment, telling why you write. If you are a reader, have you ever read a book that helped you deal with something in your life?
Patricia Bradley
Follow me on Twitter: @PTBradley1
Follow me on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/patriciabradleyauthor

Shadows of the Past - Revell February 2014 
A Promise To Protect - Revell October 2014
Matthew's Choice - Heartwarming September 2014
Google Patricia Bradley for my books

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Words of our Heart

By Jennie Atkins

I was flying back from Alaska last month and we were going over a large inland lake.  I could see a boat in the middle, its wake visible from where I was 30,000 feet plus above the ground. I could see where the boat had traveled the length of the lake, its wake visible from the air, even if the swell of the waves had already dissipated on top.

It made me think about how much our lives and the choices we make affect those around us. How long after we’ve made a decision, is the wake of that choice is still churning—creating a ripple effect in the lives of others.

As a writer, my words have an impact on my readers and hopefully will continue to do so in the years to come. What I put on Facebook and twitter, will be there f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  What I put out online stays online, for anyone to see today, tomorrow, and next year, if they dig deep enough.

I want to be one of God’s instruments, used to spread his word.  But the responsibility comes with a heavy load. I often ask myself if I am truly honoring God. And, I am ashamed to admit that I often mess up.

Psalm 19:14 states:  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

My words might be on paper, and the meditation of my heart may go forth in my stories. I pray they are God’s words and that I let Him guide my message.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Life's flotsam and jetsam

A recent blog from Israel was titled, “Ride the waves home," and that applies to life and writing. The author wrote that nothing can threaten a person’s bond with God more than going through a tragedy that may drive us further from Him, but that sometimes enduring hard times is the very thing that carries us home to Him.

There’s truth to that analogy. Rip tides sweep objects and lives away from shore. And things drift far in deep mid-ocean. But because of earth’s spin, waves eventually bring objects home to nearest westward coasts.

A recent wonderful visit with my siblings on Oregon’s Coast underlined this when we saw items not there on any previous visits. Large black barrels stood along shore to collect debris beachcombers are finding that’s just arriving from Japan’s March 11, 2011 Fukushima event. Those containers added glowing radioactive reality to what had been simple barefoot beach strolls before.

The stuff washing in is called flotsam or jetsam. Flotsam is wreckage or cargo afloat after ships sink. Jetsam is unwanted goods thrown overboard and washed ashore, especially material discarded to lighten vessels. Everything wrecked or cast aside eventually reaches shore to be re-evaluated and kept. Or tossed aside forever, and both terms apply to life and characters in fiction.

If we let go of things we should have held onto, God gives fresh opportunity to find its use now. If damaging old habits wash in and reappear, His black barrels are there to receive debris and take it away.

What about you? What have waves brought home that you once discarded but find valuable now? Or what had wrecked and sunk that you’re thrilled to rediscover and incorporate into life now?