Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcome Angela Strong to the Mine!!

Let’s welcome Angela Strong to the Mine! It’s so awesome she could join us during such a busy holiday season!!

Let's start by asking you to tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Idaho with my hubby and three teen/tweens. I've taught group fitness classes like yoga and kickboxing for over half my life. This Christmas I worked a seasonal job in the mall to make some extra money for gifts, but because I wasn't writing I couldn't sleep at night. It's so nice to be home and able to create once again. And last, I won a hamster ball race a couple summers ago. That may not be an important fact, but it will give you an idea of where I get ideas for the crazy situations my characters have to deal with.

Since it’s New year’s Eve, you get a special question:  Can you give us any gems of wisdom for the coming new year concerning writing, publishing, advertising, or any of the many other facets of the publishing world?

Have fun. Be passionate. Never stop learning. Try new things. Support others. Stay balanced. Give God all the glory. (This works in writing as well as life in general.) 

What made you want to be a writer? I know some people have a burning desire from an early age, and others kind of slowly realize that’s where they’ve been heading their whole lives.

My mom was a writer, so I grew up with stories about myself (and pictures of me with really bad haircuts) in magazines like Women's World. So when I wrote a story in high school, I submitted it to a magazine because that's what you do. They paid me $100, and I was hooked. Wish it was always that easy. I studied journalism at University of Oregon and sold my first novel Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho ten years later.

What genre do you write under and why did you choose that particular one?

I write fun and fast-paced stories for both women and children. Right now I'm focusing on romantic suspense as well as my middle-grade Fun4Hire series. I think writing for kids makes me better at writing for adults, and writing for adults makes me better at writing for kids. I love them both. 

Can you give us the rundown on how hard it was to be published, and why?

I'll just start by saying that Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper for not being creative. My kids remind me of this every time I get a rejection letter. Helps me put the difficulty of publishing back into perspective. 
Here are a couple of examples from my year. One of my favorite publishers took my manuscript to acquisitions after confirming that I would be willing to add another 25,000 words. They rejected it even though they liked the idea and the last book on that subject sold over 100,000 copies. Blah. Then I entered the Love Inspired Suspense Killer Voices contest. I made it to the final round. The editor requested revisions. I made them. Everyone said she'd buy it. Other LIS authors said I "nailed it." Rejected. Double blah.

So now I will be reworking both stories for another publisher that is looking for romantic suspense starting next month. I keep improving and hoping that I will find that perfect fit. Not every publisher is going to be a perfect fit, and I would honestly prefer to wait to work with one that believes in my work as much as I do.

What other books do you have in the works?

Book #3 in my Fun4Hire series, The Food Fight Professional, is due January 9 with The Pillow Fight Professional to follow shortly after. Then I have my novella False Security coming out in an anthology along with stories by three other local romantic suspense authors. (Check out Plus I've got another novel I've started because the editor at LIS said she'd like to see more of my work and they have very specific guidelines.

 What book will you be giving one of our lucky readers this week?

The Snowball Fight Professional is about a twelve-year-old boy who wants to make more money with his snowball fighting business than his cousin makes shoveling sidewalks so he can buy his grandma the better Christmas gift and hopefully get one of her husky puppies in return. It's a fun book that deals with what it means to be a family. This story is especially endearing to me because of the kid who is being raised by a single mom, which is something I know too much about. I care so much about these characters that sometimes I think about them and cry.

The world outside our small ‘writing spaces’ is huge and daunting. What kind of advice would you give to those of us who’re still trying to get published? I know there are so many do’s and don’ts.

Before I published, Bette Nordberg told me that selling your first book is like a dolphin jumping through a hoop. You end up right back in the same pool trying to sell your second book. That was the best advice I could have gotten with my career, especially since the first two publishers I sold to ended up shutting down. It hasn't gotten easier, but I've gotten more comfortable/confident with the show. And I've made some great pool buddies. So now I'll quote Dori from Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming."

Thank you so much for being a part of our ‘Diamond Mine’ this week. I believe we’ve found a true gem in you.

Thanks. I love the idea that we are all diamonds in the rough. :)


Peggy Trotter said...

You won a hamster ball race?! Seriously? Please tell me it wasn't with a real hamster but you in a giant ball. That sounds so cool! Love that you write kids and adult books. So glad to have you on the Mine!

Unknown said...

Hi Angela! Your books sound great! I'm curious about writing children's books. I've got a few started, but have wondered how important it is to have lots of illustrations or not. What's your advice on that?

Angela Ruth Strong said...

Hi, ladies. Sorry I'm just getting to this. Somehow I missed the link over the holidays. Yes, Peggy, it was me in a giant hamster ball. And Nancy, if you are thinking of picture books, the publisher usually likes to match you with an illustrator of your own. If you are thinking of self-publishing, you want to do a storyboard where you divide the manuscript onto 32 pages and have the illustrations match. Many times a short story for children can be sold to a magazine like Hopscotch and they will put a few illustrations with it. If you write chapter books or middle-grade novels, that's really the publisher's choice. We do about one illustration every other chapter. I encourage you to check out SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.) Hope that helps!