Author Angela Moody: You’re never too old

BetterLateThanNeverWritten.memeWhen I meet another mature author like myself with a debut YA novel, I want to break out the tiara and present her with a bouquet of roses. Or whatever a male author would like, I want to do that.

Today I interview Angela Moody, author of No Safe Haven. I remember when her manuscript was up for critique on the main Scribes loop of ACFW a few years ago, and I am tickled that she remembered me. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

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Angela, welcome to The Scriblerians blog!

Thank you, Cynthia. It’s a pleasure to be here.

We don’t often interview authors of historical YA fiction. When and how did you decide to write it? 

I’ve always loved historical fiction. Even as a young reader if it had to do with history, I was reading it. There are always those who say that writers like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, etc., were not historical writers because they wrote in their contemporary time, but they were historical to me, and I loved all of those writers. As I got older, I read John Jakes, Anya Seton and countless other historical writers, including historical romance writers.

Did you always want to write about the Civil War? 

This may sound geeky, but yes. I remember in eighth grade writing a story for our social studies class and setting it in the Civil War period. The assignment was that we had two pieces of historical items that we had to research and find out what they were, and then write something about them. Everyone else did you standard essay, but I wrote a story. I remember my two items were a butter mold and a spittoon (which I originally thought was a chamber pot!) My story was about a young woman whose husband was off fighting for the Union Army and how much she missed him. She would often clean the spittoon that his father had given him as a wedding gift. Something like that. I do remember getting a good grade for the assignment because my teacher loved the story and its strong emotional content.

As I got older, I wanted to write a story about the Civil War set in the North, specifically Vermont, because I’m a Vermonter and all the stories I read seemed to center on the war as it affected the South. Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately), only one incident of the war reached Vermont, and that was the great St. Albans Raid. No battle was fought here though, so I never could think of a story compelling enough to set here in my native State.

How did you come to write a story based on a real girl in her teens during the Civil War? 

My daughter went to Gettysburg College for her undergrad years. After her first year was over, my husband and I decided to travel to Gettysburg a week early, while she was taking her exams. We would be tourists for a week and then bring her home. As we were coming back from the battlefield one afternoon, I happened to see a museum that had a line waiting at the door. On impulse, we decided to stop and actually found a parking spot right in front of the building! If you’ve ever been to Gettysburg, you’ll know that’s next to impossible. We got in the back of the line, thinking we could just wander through, but the man at the head of the line told us it was a paid tour and if we wanted to pay at the end, we were welcome to join the tour. We agreed and went through the Shriver House Museum. The Shriver House is located two doors down from Tillie’s home. The owners restored it back to its 1863 appearance to tell the story of the plight of the townsfolk. That was a revelation for me. Throughout the tour, I bombarded the man with questions, which he patiently answered. My brain was whirling with ideas about how to turn this into a story, and my husband leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “I smell a novel.” At the end of the tour, as I was paying him, he led me to a bookshelf and started pulling books off the shelf, saying I might be interested in reading them. As an afterthought, he tossed one more book on the pile, a slim little thing that turned out to be Tillie Pierce’s memoir of her experiences. When I read the book, she just jumped off the pages at me and I knew I had to write it.

How did you write the story to appeal to both northerners and southerners even though the girl and her family were Yankees? 

Research, research, research. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Civil War, mostly first person experiences. They aren’t hard to find. A great many soldiers kept diaries, as did a number of civilians. They seemed to have a sense that they were living a period of important historical impact and wanted to record everything they could. What stood out to me the most was that they were all just people who had the same dreams and desires we do. They wanted to go home, back to their wives and children, to live their lives as best they could, but knew they needed to do this terrible work first.

Interestingly, I found myself very disappointed with the abolitionists. We all think they wanted to end slavery and elevate the blacks from their social position. I do believe that we northerners have elevated the abolitionist almost to sainthood, so I was disappointed to realize that while they wanted abolition, they never thought past the end of slavery and what that meant, for the former slaves, or themselves. Really, in their minds, they felt that blacks should still be servants, but they should be paid servants. Even William Lloyd Garrison wanted to free them and send them back to Africa. As far as race relations goes, I wondered how much progress we’ve made, which helped bring those people down to the human level for me.

How did you feel about writing your first novel at a mature age?

I feel great about it. I don’t regret the time spent not writing. During that time, I married and raised a family. I did what was on my plate to do. I did write a novel back in the early 1990s that, Lord willing, will never see the light of day! That novel, however, taught me that I could write one. But, I’m a firm believer in the Lord working things out in His own timing to glorify Himself, not us. He needed me to go through things and to come to faith before He would open the door to writing my first published novel. I’m just humbled and honored He found me worthy.

What advice can you give authors who did not start writing straight out of school but may have been homemakers or had a completely different career for decades? 

I would say if you want to write, if it’s your passion, then do it. Don’t let your age stop you. You’re never too old until you’re dead, as my father likes to say. I have always wanted to write, even as a kid. I knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now that my kids are grown and out of the house, I can follow my passion. If that’s where you are, then I say, “Go for it.”

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Angela Moody lives in Vermont with her husband, Jim, her daughter, Alison and their two cats. Their son, Stephen and his wife, Amanda live nearby.

Angela has been writing short stories and novels from an early age, always in the historic fiction genre where she feels she shines.

One of her passions is crochet. From the time she learned the craft, she was “hooked”. She loves reading, writing stories and spending time with her family. One of the items on her bucket list is to visit every civil war battlefield site at the time of year each battle took place.

No Safe Haven is her first Christian novel and she has plans for two other historical fiction novels as part of a three book set entitled “Young American Heroines.”

Angela is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can find her at:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaMoody

Twitter: @AngelaMoody

Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/AngelaMoody

Blog: http://Grnmtnwrtr@wordpress.com

7 Sites where authors can list books FREE

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So your book is published, but you’re in charge of marketing it. It’s listed on the retail sites you or your publisher chose and on the reader review site Goodreads. Where else can you list it for readers and reviewers to find without spending your advance (if you received one) or your royalties before any are earned?

Here are some sites that allow you to list free at least one book, and some allow as many as you have published! Do check out their particulars thoroughly on your own, including any book-deal email subscriptions as well as requirements and rates for advertising on those. For some of these sites, it’s been a while since I listed my first—or first two—books. Their criteria or features may have changed.

Readers Gazette is for Kindle authors only and requires you wait to be accepted after you apply. Books must be at least 20,000 words and 80 pages. Novels, children’s books, books of poetry, and cookbooks are acceptable. No erotica. The great thing about Readers Gazette is that they Tweet my books’ listings regularly each week. Then other authors RT those tweets, and I RT theirs.

Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest allowed me to list both my books, and the first book was reviewed at no cost. When I did not pay for a review of the second book, that listing was eventually removed. Although the site lists some celebrities as award contest winners, I’ve read mixed opinions about the contest’s overall validity. The 2016 contest claims 650+ winners and finalists in 120+ categories. The contest is not free but boasts cash prizes and “chances” at other recognition. I’m going to keep my eye on Readers’ Favorite until I’m more sure about it.

YA Books Central describes itself as “one of the largest professional book recommendation sites targeted towards tween and teen readers.” List your books free, and then hope that one of the many teen reviewers on the site will want to read and review your book. If you would like to review a book, you must join the YABC Community to do so. I plan to email YABC and pitch one of my books for a review. An author can also request an ad kit containing advertising information and rates.

Clean Indie Reads does not take non-fiction except narrative non-fiction that reads like a novel and only takes clean novels for middle grades and up.  Take a look at their listing for my Bird Face series to see what’s included in a listing. The site states, “As long as your FB identity shows something to do with being an author (and it’s “clean”), expect to be approved within about 24 hours.” Information about submissions is there and on their group Facebook page, which also has cross-promotions info. Clean Indie Reads has members who are active Tweeters and RT other members’ tweets.

You can also get free listings on BookGorilla, UndergroundBookReviews, and Ripley’s Booklist, which offer reasonable prices for spots on their email lists and other advertising, last I looked. Ripley’s Booklist is rather new and specializes in Young Adult and New Adult, which I appreciate.

This is certainly not a complete list of all the sites where I’ve listed my books free, but these are sites that I will likely continue to use and may even be willing to spend money with.

Note: If you happen to be a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), look into adding your books to their Fiction Finder. Criteria for indie authors and for authors whose publishers are not on the recognized publishers list have recently changed.

If you’re an author, which are you favorite sites for listing your books? If you’re a reader, where besides the retail sites do you go to search for books and read reviews?

A Late-Blooming Author’s Column

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You may notice that each of the Scriblerians is developing a  distinct and focused column on this site, complete with a lovely meme expressing the theme of the column.

We decided it was time that each of us took a more focused approach to our posts, so we searched our past work for patterns that could point us in specific directions.

For those of you who don’t know me as well as the Scriblerians do, I thought I’d explain the meaning of my meme (and thus my column) before I start writing its theme-driven posts. Just so you’ll know what to expect.

“Better Late Than Never Written” refers to the fact that I got a very late start writing fiction. My age was, well, let’s just say middle-aged.

My first novel was published (the first time) in 2014, over a decade after it was begun. To my thinking at the time, that book took so long to write and get published that I might not have enough decades left to write a second one and get it published before … you know.

It seemed like every fiction writer I knew had started writing at a much younger age than I, and if not yet published, had at least two or three manuscripts completed. The published authors my age had several novels to their credit. How would I ever catch up?

The writing, and then finding the right publisher, made up only half the problem. There was so much to learn regarding the marketing of books. A lot of tools for book marketing are free or of little cost, but finding them and choosing the right ones are not easy.

So that’s what my column will be about. I plan to share with you some of the things I had to rush to discover, to learn, and to accumulate. About writing. About publishing. About marketing. Stuff I’ve compiled that I hope will save you time, especially if you got a late start in life like I did.

So please stay tuned. And remember, it’s better to have written late than never to have written at all. Wait—should that have been the title of my meme?

I Love to Wear Red, White, and Blue

AmericanFlagWaving   Whoever chose the colors red, white, and blue for the American flag—thank you! I can’t think of a more cheerful combination of tones for a flag.

But that’s not all.

I love to wear red, white, and blue. Together or separately, and not only on national holidays. It seems I’m not alone.

Red is a popular color in women’s clothing, and if a woman wants to attract a man’s attention, well, wear red.

I don’t know any woman who doesn’t have something red to wear at Christmas or for Valentine’s Day. Men wear red on those occasions, too.

Businesswomen and female public speakers sometimes have a red power suit. It commands attention. Men wear red ties.

Red signifies fun, passion, strength, vitality.

White always marks an occasion as joyful, an ensemble as special. White signifies purity but also looks cool and glamorous.

Brides in western cultures have worn it for centuries. Gowns for formal events often appear in white. White is used for christenings and other religious celebrations. And for sports like boating and tennis.

When asked for their favorite color, the majority of people mention blue. That’s especially true of men.

Look in a man’s closet. My husband always has more blue shirts than any other. When we shop, he gravitates toward the blue clothing (and sometimes green, which contains blue). He looks great in blue, and I always compliment him.

But blue looks good on everyone. Find your best blue by holding fabrics near your face. Which blue makes your skin look healthy and your eyes sparkle? Pale aqua, royal, or deep navy?

Do that with red tones. Do you like deep cherry, bright berry, or fire-engine red?

Now pair one of your favorites with white. You’ll have a winning combination.

What is your favorite combination of colors to wear?

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Wearing red! Cynthia

 

 

Pep Talk to My 15-½-year-old Self

Okay, Cindy, pay attention because this is some of the most important stuff you’ll ever hear. And the only time you’ll hear it.

First, congratulations. You made it through your freshman year of high school. Now in 10th grade and 15 ½ years old, you’re midway through your teen years. And still alive and well. That’s an accomplishment you’ll appreciate later.

Caught at the halfway point between childhood and womanhood, you’re having a Mid-teen Crisis, although you have no name for it. You’re tying to figure out who you are, while others are tying to tell you who or what you should be.

That’s all right. In fact, it’s pretty normal.

You forget to shave your legs or tweeze the uni-brow because you’d rather be outside examining trees and plants, playing with your dog, or running wild in an open field and flying a kite. And maybe when you finally go inside at dusk, you don’t feel like washing your hair and winding it around giant rollers to make it straight, as fashion of the time dictates. You get teased about your unkempt appearance.

So what? Enjoy being a kid a while longer.

Try not to obsess over your delayed physical development. Don’t even think about it for another year, because you’re wasting your time. Of course, you’re in awe of girls your age and younger who wear a bra cup size with letters that otherwise represent mediocre to poor grades in school. It hurts sometimes when boys pay attention only to those girls, especially that one boy you like in particular.

Don’t worry. Your time will come.

When it does, don’t let a boy you date convince you to drop any activities, hobbies, or friends you enjoy. He criticizes those things you love because he’s jealous. He knows they make you look interesting and attractive, and he can’t stand it.

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A drawing I did in high school of a happy couple I hoped someday to be a part of.

On to the practical aspects of life.

It’s great that you learned to sew. That skill will serve you well in your impoverished college years when you mend torn pants to wear another semester and create a blouse from a dollar’s worth of fabric.

Now learn to cook. Don’t wait so long.

And read more. A lot more. Classic novels and current events magazines.

The times in which you live are a turning point in American history. Watch the news, and listen to adults talk about it. You’ll use the knowledge gained to interpret the cultural and political events in your adulthood.

Even though it’s hard to talk to your father, do it. Think of topics you both might enjoy. You won’t have many more years of conversations with him.

Consider more career options than you do now. Research them and ask questions of professionals in those fields. Seek advice about what to study in college to prepare for more than one option.

Bottom line? Don’t limit your possibilities in any way. In forty years, the people and things you enjoy in life may surprise you.

profile_pic  Cynthia

The X Author Files

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Image courtesy Morguefile free photos

I want to talk about fear. The fear new authors have after publishing that first book or two, when they run out of steam for a while and wonder, “How many more books are in me, and can I get them published?”

I know an author who has gone back to a day job after publishing one book of her own and collaborating on another. Her name will be forever in the ex-author files if she doesn’t return with another book, even though once you’re an author I don’t suppose that label can be removed.

But the big question is, who will remember authors like this? Especially if their books go out-of-print. New authors come onto the scene every day.

With only two published novels in the Bird Face series, I don’t want that to happen to me. I’m under contract with the same publisher for a third book in the series, but it’s taken longer to complete than I’d hoped. To say I procrastinated may be a bit strong. There have been unforeseen personal delays such as a 500-mile move, sickness, adjusting to my husband’s retirement, a death in the family, … but that’s life.

However, I asked my publisher for an extension with a deadline of May. I need tight deadlines; it’s how I operate best. Must be a throwback to my newspaper days.

It’s easy to convince myself that, because I need to write a blog post or online article or anything else, I don’t have time to write fiction that day. So I plan to eliminate as many distractions as possible to get the job done and avoid the X author files.

I’ll see you back here on The Scriblerians in June!

profile_pic Cynthia

Learning this book-publishing business

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

Saturday I once again had the privilege of attending the monthly Writers on the Storm meeting in The Woodlands, Texas. I’ve been a member for about six months, after moving to the state last spring.

This recent meeting was particularly sweet because author, editor, and fellow member Linda Yezak posted an interview of me on the W.O.T.S. blog that very morning.

But a blog feature is only one fragment of the benefits I’ve gained by belonging to this group. And that’s the reason I push encourage new writers I meet to join real and online groups–and not to struggle alone! In a group of writers, you’ll meet others like yourself as well as established authors who’ve learned the ropes and are more than happy to share their knowledge with you.

At our meeting, a panel composed of several members of our group spoke about changes in the book publishing business. As our W.O.T.S. president, Janice, explained–you know longer have to become published by a big publishing house, Christian or otherwise, to become a successful book author. You might go with a small press, go it alone, or become a hybrid author like Janice who has some books traditionally published and others designed and produced herself.

The panel spoke on everything from using Amazon as an author to the best places for advertising your books to where to look online for the best free professional advice. We learned it’s a good idea to use MailChimp, a free newsletter subscribe service, when you want to start a newsletter and have visitors to your website subscribe to it. (I needed that affirmation to take the first step toward a newsletter myself.) We also learned that all the blogging in the world won’t sell books if you don’t establish relationships with your readers. (Again–newsletter!)

Of course it was mentioned that a great place to join a critique group, attend free webinars, and find a writing group like W.O.T.S. is American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which W.O.T.S. is a local chapter. If you’d like to join a local chapter of ACFW, expect to be required to join ACFW first and to pay the reasonable dues for both. If you don’t have a local chapter and would like to start one, contact ACFW.

Next month, W.O.T.S. will talk to its members about the ways to make money from our books. I can’t wait!

profile_pic  Cynthia