Sunday, March 19, 2006
FEATURED AUTHOR - Angela Benson
SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.
Angela Benson: I'm an author with a full-time job as a university professor. Kensington Books published my first novel, Bands of Gold, back in 1994 during the launch year of Arabesque Books, their ground-breaking line of romances featuring African-Ameircan heroes and heroines. In total, I published five romance novels and one romance novella with Arabeseque during the 1994-1997 timeframe. BET Books (now Harlequin Books) is scheduled to release a collection of three of those early books (Bands of Gold, For All Time and Between the Lines) in April 2006. I also published two novels with Silhouette Books which were recently re-issued. My first Christian fiction titles were Christian romances. Awakening Mercy (Tyndale House Publishers) hit bookshelves in 2000. It was a finalist for both the RITA Award for Excellence in Romance Fiction and the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. Abiding Hope (Tyndale), winner of the EMMA Award for Excellence in Romance Fiction, followed in 2001. My third and most recent Christian fiction title, The Amen Sisters (Walk Worthy Press, 2005), marks my entry into what is considered mainsteam Christian fiction.
SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?
BENSON: At its most basic, The Amen Sisters is a story of recovery from an abusive church situation. The main character, Francine Amen, left her home and her family to follow a ministry that she believed was doing the work of God, only to find that the pastor and the church had secrets that would lead to the death of one of her closest friends. In her recovery, she has to return home and mend fences with her sister, Dawn (who’s now married to Francine’s ex-fiancé), the church family she left behind, and the family of her dead friend. Francine finds the world she left behind in a bit of turmoil and she can’t help but blame herself for some of the problems. As she tries to make things right in the present, she finds that she must first make peace with what happened in the past.
SORMAG: What aspect of God do you most hope readers will take away after reading your book?
BENSON: I want people to know that the situations they face aren't unique, that others have been through what they're going through and survived. I want them to know that no situation they face is bigger than God and that God's hand is always outstretched to help them. I want to remind them that God's help, most times, comes through the His people. Sometimes we miss His help because we look for it in the wrong place. Finally, I want readers to see that because of what they've endured they're now in a position to help others.
SORMAG: Do you ever have a hard time letting go of a character after the novel is finished?
BENSON: Not really. Usually, I'm ready to see the character go. Readers tend to want to see them again so I try to accommodate them by bringing old characters back in cameo roles where appropriate.
SORMAG: What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
BENSON: I love it when the book is flowing and the words just come and I love it when the book is finished. I hate the uncertainty and insecurity that I feel with each book when the words aren't flowing and I'm not sure I'll be able to finish the book. I've learned to tolerate both ends of the spectrum because they make up my process.
SORMAG: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
BENSON: Building a readership takes time and planning. While some writers "pop" with their first or second book, most writers build their readership slowly one book at a time. A good agent can help you begin to do this with your first book. Unfortunately, good agents are tough to find.
SORMAG: Do you have any promotional tips for writers?
BENSON: Take responsibility for your book's promotion. Don't rely solely on what your publisher. Some simple things you can do is compile a mailing list and create a web presence. You can also join a national writer's group of some kind. The Author's Guild (http://www.authorsguild.com) provides workshops on various topics, including promotion. So does Romance Writers of America (http://www.rwanational.org) and other genre organizations. You need to plug into an organization of people who are already doing promotion so that you can learn from them.
SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?
BENSON: Now I could write an entire article on that one. I use Publishers Marketplace (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com) to keep up to date on who's selling what to whom as well as to keep track of my book stats on Amazon.com and BN.com. The membership is $20/month and well worth it, in my opinion. I use Bible Gateway (http://www.BibleGateway.com) to search for scriptures as well as to make sure that I've quoted them correctly. Google.com and Vivisimo.com are my favorite search engines and I use them a great deal to find out who's talking about me and my books on the Internet.
SORMAG: What should a new writer know about the publishing business?
BENSON: New writers should know that publishing really is a business and they should treat it as such. Don't think of writing as your second job; think of it as your business and think of publishers and agents as your business partners.
SORMAG: What is a favorite book from your childhood?
BENSON: Believe it or not, I can't remember any specific book that I read as a child. I know I read a lot, but I don't remember any titles. I do remember stories that I wrote. My favorite was, My Interview with the Jackson 5. I was a fifth grader when I wrote it and I was completely convinced that one day I would marry Jermaine Jackson. All I can say is, "His loss." (smile)
SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
BENSON: I welcome all readers to visit my web site at http://www.AngelaBenson.com There's a link on the site to send me email and you can also post comments to any of the blog messages You can also send email directly to email@example.com but I have such a horrible problem with SPAM that I may miss it. If you use the form on the web site, I won't miss the message.
- I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.
I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.
I’m available for:
Online promotion coaching
Contact me at:firstname.lastname@example.org