Meet Author Angela Benson

Posted on December 11, 2011

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Tell us a little about yourself. I’m an Alabama woman who finally got to move back to my home state in 2006 after living in the northeast and midwest for most of my adult working life.  I’ve spent a lot of time in Georgia, most of that time acquiring degrees from any college wise enough to accept me.

Writing has been a big part of my life for a long time.  I’m the author of 12 novels, two novellas and a nonfiction writing book.  My first book was published in 1994 and my next one is scheduled for 2012.  My writing career has been one of change or instability, depending on how you look at it. I’ve written for several publishers, including Kensington, Harlequin, Tyndale House, Walk Worthy Press/Warner, Berkley Books and Avon.  I’m on my third agent.  And I’ve written in multiple genres. I also do a lot of writing in my day job as an associate professor of educational technology.  It’s a different kind of writing, of course, but it’s still writing.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun? My husband and I like to cruise and we like to do road trips.  We usually do a cruise in December of each year, though we don’t have one scheduled for this year. The last time we cruised I was finishing up a book.  That didn’t go over so well as my husband had to tour St. Marten by himself since I was stuck on the computer.  Now we have a rule: no computers on vacation.  We’ve already decided that our next cruise will be an 8-day Southern Caribbean cruise that includes a stop in Antigua. We’ve made two road trips to Washington, DC and two to Michigan this year.  We plan one more trip before the year ends.

Tell us something few know about you.

I was married at age fifty and it was my first marriage.  We just celebrated our second anniversary.   I write about my experiences in my Newlywed at 50 blog posts.

I’m a breast cancer survivor.  I was diagnosed three months before our first anniversary.  Early detection is the key to survival, so get those mammograms, ladies!

I’m a huge fan of Sons of Anarchy, the FX television show about a corrupt motorcycle club. I actually go on Facebook and chat with other fans while watching the weekly episodes. Yes, I love the show.

What is your favorite novel and why? I’m not sure I have a favorite, but twice I’ve been tempted to write an author and tell her how much I enjoyed her book.  The first was Julie Garwood’s For the Roses.  That was a wonderful book, not for the romance, but for the way the author portrayed the relationship between a runaway slave, Adam, and his white adopted brothers and sister.  I loved reading that book.  The second was Sharon Ewell Foster’s Passing by Samaria.  That story was about racism and forgiveness.  What a great book!  If you haven’t read it, you must read it TODAY.

When did you begin writing? I started writing in Ms. Milazo’s fifth grade class.  We would write stories and read them to the class.  My “Interview with the Jackson Five” story was a winner with the class and with the teacher.    My first novel wasn’t published until 1994 as part of Kensington’s Arabesque line of African-American romances.  That was more than 25 years after my debut in Ms. Milazo’s class.

What genre(s) do you write? I started my career as a contemporary romance writer.  From there, I moved to inspirational romance and on to the more general Christian/inspirational fiction.  I’ve started tagging my work as “emotional and uplifting romance and family drama” because I think that phrase captures the essence of my writing.  I’m working on inserting “forgiveness” and “faith” in the tag, but I haven’t come up with anything I like yet.

Tell us about your latest book? Avon is going to publish Delilah’s Daughters next year if, and that’s a big if, I get it turned in by my January due date.  The book started as the story of a mother with three daughters who lose an American Idol type contest and are forced to find other ways to develop their musical talent.  As I began writing, the story evolved to more of a family story about maintaining and respecting family bonds while pursuing individual goals.  I can’t seem to get away from family, faith and forgiveness in my stories.

I recently refreshed and republished several of my older books in eBook format.  Friend and Lover, The Nicest Guy in America and The Way Home are contemporary romances that I wrote early in my writing career.  Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope are inspirational romances that I wrote a bit later.  My most recently republished book is Telling Your Tale: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction for Print and eBook.  It was originally published by Berkley Books as Telling The Tale: The African-American Fiction Writers Guide.  I refreshed the content a bit to reflect the ebook revolution and some of the lessons I’ve learned in the ten years since the book was first published.

The teacher in me is really excited about Telling Your Tale.  It’s chocked full of activities and exercises so writers get to practice the skills and techniques they read about in the book.  I’ve also published a separate Telling Your Tale Workbook with all the exercises and worksheets available for download as writeable PDF and DOC files for easy data entry.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?  I’m envious of aspiring authors today.  There are so many more doors open to them than were open when I first started writing.  While new authors are welcome to go the traditional route of landing an agent and signing with a major publisher, they have eBook and Print-on-Demand (POD) options to get their work in front of readers.  So my advice to aspiring authors today is to blaze your own path.  Write the story of your heart and then write the second story of your heart.  Keep writing.  Never stop writing.  Study the craft of writing so that you can write a good book.  Once you can craft a good book, you’re in a position to take advantage of the many publishing options available to you.  If you need some help crafting your book or getting it into the hands of readers, download a copy of Telling Your Tale and Dee’s Become a Successful Author. Those two resources can get you started or get you over the hump, depending on where you are with your writing.

You can find my booklist (complete with excerpts and links to bookstores) at http://www.angelabenson.com/books.html

How can readers reach you? You can always find me at my website, http://www.angelabenson.com.  From there, you can access my blog, a list of my books and my contact information.  I’m also on http://www.facebook.com/angelabensonbooks and http://www.twitter.com/eAngelaBenson, but I don’t hang out in those venues very much.

Do you have anything else you’d like to add? If any of your visitors buy a copy of Telling the Tale this week, I’ll give them a free copy of the workbook in DOC format.  Just send me an e-mail to books@angelabenson.com telling me where and when you bought Telling the Tale and put “Dee sent me” in the subject line.

Thanks for hosting me today.   It’s good to spend some time with you and your visitors and friends. You all have to come over and visit me on my blog soon.

Dee here: Angela, it was a pleasure interviewing you. Feel free to come back any time. For the Roses is one of my all time favorite books. I’ve read it a million times. I need to see if it’s on Nook yet.

Happy reading everyone

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