When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, August 4, 2013 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book mentioned below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” and “Follow by Email”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. You can read details about my book giveaways at Disclaimers.
Lighten Up by Angela Strong
Angela Ruth Strong writes light-hearted and life-changing love stories. The "light-hearted" part comes from her ability to get into interesting situations--such as a hamster ball race or riding on the shoulders of a unicyclist. The "life-changing" part comes from the power of God's love and the beauty of her very own romance. The "story" part comes from her passion for books that she got from her writer mama. And there's nothing else she'd rather do than share these stories with you.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Currently, I live in Idaho with my computer geek/jock/musician/artist/outdoorsy husband and three teen/tweens who give more ideas than time to write.
What fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?
1. I broke four ribs cheer leading in high school when a basketball player ran into me and knocked me into the bleachers. I wrote about it and sold the story to American Cheerleader Magazine for $100 at the age of 16. Thus my writing career began.
2. My daughter had a birthday party at a gymnastics center that advertised a discount for seniors. This inspired the poem “Gymnastics Grandma,” recently published in Hopscotch Magazine.
3. At a church picnic when my son was a preschooler, he wanted to join in a water fight with the older kids. I gave him a cup of water and told him to dump the cup on his dad. His dad saw him coming and offered him $1 to dump the same cup on me. I got wet and he got paid. He fell asleep holding onto that dollar bill, and I said to his dad, “Look what you created. He’s going to become a water fight professional.” Water Fight Professional became the name of my next story. It sold to an anthology in 2006. Then a few months ago I got an email from the New York testing board requesting the rights to use my story in over 500,000 tests that will be given for the next four years. I said, “Okay.”
Please describe yourself with three words.
Wife, mother, believer.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I get myself into crazy situations that would be fun to write about—stuff usually involving my kids. I’m trying to become more like the Proverbs 31 woman, but so far I’ve only mastered verse 27. “She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.” Probably because it creates such great writing material.
How did you become involved in writing?
I guess by going to writing conferences with my mom when I was still in high school. And by reading more than I watched television. Then there was journalism school and the student newspaper. Stalking my favorite authors was fun, too. Eventually I got my manuscript into the right woman’s hands. And for that, I give all the glory to God.
Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?
We are making an extra bedroom into my office this year. But I don’t know that I’ll stay in it. I can write from the sofa, coffee shops, hospitals, and even Jump Time when my kids are playing trampoline dodge ball.
Do you always know the title of your books before you write them?
Often I’m inspired by a title idea. But even the titles that I think are amazing in the beginning will change over time.
Lighten Up is about the daughter of a pastor who can’t forgive her father for running off with the church secretary until she falls in love with her pastor.
What takeaway value do you hope your readers receive after reading this book?
Most readers say it’s a story of forgiveness, but I think it’s more than that. It’s about how mercy triumphs over judgment every time. And also, I focus on the importance of accountability because we are all tempted and capable of falling.
Where did you get the idea for your book?
I had a pastor of a large church break down in my arms sobbing after confessing 9 years of affairs, but he still chose to keep it a secret and keep his position in ministry. I judged him and told him he was “crippling his church.”
Then when my dad took over a church where the pastor had run off with the church secretary, and I wondered if I would have judged my dad the same way I judged the first pastor. So I put my main character Bethany in that situation to find out.
Did you have to do any research for this book?
I grew up in the church. My whole life was research. And though you might think the wild stories in Lighten Up are a little too far-fetched to be true, many of them come from real-life Christians.
How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I finished my first manuscript in 2006, sold my first book in 2008. It wasn’t the same story. I’d written three novels by the time the first sold.
What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher in their novel?
Write because you have something to say. And listen for God’s advice on who He wants you to say it too. Then trust that God is the author of life and He’s got you where you are for a reason. (I say this more for myself than anyone else.)
What are you working on now?
Book 2 in my Body and Soul Series—Shake It Up. This story is about the main character’s cousin from Lighten Up. Star is a dance instructor who has to learn to let God lead even if it means she won’t be in the spotlight anymore.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Read books on writing. Go to conferences. Find a critique partner. And try to learn from each rejection on your path to publication.
Please tell our readers where they can get your book.
Both Lighten Up and my first novel (Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho) can be found on Amazon.
Please tell our readers where they can find you online.
My blog Romancing the Throne is all about the power of God’s redeeming love. http://angelaruthstrong.blogspot.com
Any parting comment?
I always appreciate hearing from readers or finding their reviews on Amazon. But whether you read my books or not, keep writing your own!
Angela, thank you for visiting with me and my readers in this interesting interview. One of my readers will win a copy of Lighten Up in a random drawing among commenters.