Monday, September 27, 2010

Harlequin Intrigue Debut Author Angi Morgan: Contests, Believing, & Selling

Thanks to my friends here at THE SEEKERS for asking me to be a guest. It’s always great to reconnect with people. Pam and I go back to a contest debacle in 2000. Tina and I met through my chapter contest and we’re Golden Heart sisters. I have Debby’s Writer’s Prayer hanging in my office. I’m sure I could probably find a connection to the other wonderful writers here if I searched hard enough.
I’ve had a couple of exciting weeks with the release of my first Harlequin Intrigue: Hill Country Holdup. But honestly, it’s been a wild rollercoaster ride of events over the past year. I officially signed the contract with Harlequin on December 1st. Yep, ten months for those of you counting on your fingers. Ten months from THE CALL to THE SHELF.
Ten months seems like such a short time. That’s only one month for every year I was on the submission ride. I’ve been reminded by friends that I’ve worked hard for my sale. It did not happen overnight. BUT IT DID HAPPEN. There were lots of friends, family, and professionals that believed in me and never let me give up. Thanks for that.
I’m constantly asked if I believe contests were the reason I sold. My simple answer? I sold as a direct result of a contest win. The more complicated answer that most writers don’t want to hear? I had to final first. And becoming a finalist required a lot of hard work and sticking to my guns regarding my writing. In 2009, I won, finaled and sold. The same manuscript won the Golden Heart in 2010. But the same year, the same story (yes, the very same words) received the lowest score I’d ever received. I was told by a couple of authors that Harlequin would never buy my story in its present form (yes, one month prior to selling). The ups and downs of last year should have made my head spin. But...
In 2009 something in me had changed. I had matured as a writer. I believed in my writing, believed in my voice, believed in myself. I KNEW the sell was just around the corner. It was my year. Seriously. *MY* year. I had re-written Hill Country Holdup to its original story-line. The suggestions others made were taken under consideration, but I followed my instinct, wrote the story the way *I* wanted to read it. And it sold.
I can’t make that guarantee for every contest finalist. You have to have an excellent story (I refer to mine very humbly)... A story that’s written with your unique flavor and voice. A story that makes it to an editor’s desk who loves it. And a story when presented to marketing, they think they can sell it.
So if you’re thinking about entering a contest the first thing I would advise is ask yourself WHY. Friends are preparing to enter the Golden Heart and I caution that it’s not a regular contest and can't be placed in the same category as chapter contests. There's one reason to enter: FINAL. It might give some contestants the satisfaction of finishing a manuscript and having it ready for submission. But ultimately, it's GRAND to be a finalist and it opens additional opportunities.
Chapter contests are where newer writers want to get their feet wet. They supply feedback, and still get you in front of an editor (one that you know may truly enjoy your work) if you final. The experienced writer should enter contests wanting to final and move out of the slush pile with an editor. The purpose is to FINAL and see how the editor reacts (asking for the full or placing you fourth). Winning a contest opens up more opportunities and may establish a professional relationship with the editor/agent.
CONTESTS? I'm certain you've all heard this before, but just in case... When seeking an editor for my story last year, I sought contests by the following criteria: Final Round Editor, category specific, specific score sheets that showed off or worked FOR my writing style. At the point I was last year, I did not need feedback. But I have entered a manuscript for specifically that reason, found it wasn't working and did NOT submit to an editor. I know several published authors who also enter contests with new genre work just for the reaction of the reader.
Those seeking unbiased feedback may need to confirm if a story is well-received or needs work. It helps point out holes in the opening chapter(s) or it may just be someone without the benefit of critique partners. The very new writer may not know they're seeking feedback... As a contest coordinator, I've listened to several new writers who fall into the bottom third of scoring. They receive the crits and listen, learn, revise and resubmit. Several contestants have gone on to sell those manuscripts.
BELIEVING? And each time I received comments back in 2009, I stuck to my guns: my opinion, my vision for the book, my instinct that *I* knew the story better than anyone else. And it definitely helped that I had a critique partner (waving at Amy) who supported me and continually told me the story was mine.
We’ve all experienced the hurtfulness of a stranger’s words regarding our work. I can’t say that the initial hurt ever stings less, but this past year, I laughed more than I cried. Especially when the book sold to Harlequin without me changing anything.
SELLING? You have to know what you want from a contest to know if you received it. Writing is a business and you need a plan. One of my favorite pieces of advice that I received early on was from an editor: It's not the first or last chapter that sells your's the middle. So those who sell don't just work on the beginning for contests, they take the advice they receive and apply it to the entire manuscript.
QUESTION: What’s your mantra? 2009 was My Year. 2010 was Just Keep Writing. What’s yours and why? Leave a comment and we’ll draw from a free copy of Hill Country Holdup or an Advanced Reading Copy of .38 Caliber Cover-Up (my second Intrigue on shelves in February).

Thanks again,
Visit Angi’s website for her debut contest: Hold Up The Cover...lots of prizes.


  1. Angi,

    Thanks for a great post. I've been entering contests that offer comments/critiques from the judges. I've received many helpful comments and some not-so-helpful! :)

    I've had 2 mantras this year: "You can do it!" and BICHOK - Butt in chair, hands on keyboard."

    Congrats on your debut novel!
    Please enter me in the drawing.

  2. First things first: It's Monday and Helen's not here with coffee, but she called me to say she hadn't set it up, so here we go:

    Coffee. Dunkin', today, regular, hazelnut and I nipped Sandra's chocolate velvet.

    Creamers go without saying. Have FUN with them, pumpkin spice is my flavor of choice right now.

    Food: Going easy today, I'm doing revisions, so we've got Dunkin' supplying that as well, including egg white sandwiches.

    I WILL NOT be eating those when donuts are an alternative choice.


    Love the story. Love the drive. Love your belief that what you had was solid. I think that's a huge plus for an author, to get to that point of recognition and realize that whay you have is worthy of publication and to pursue, pursue, pursue. A great story of perseverance and perspiration.


    And since I sold as a result of Finally a Bride two years ago, I totally get what you're saying.


    Very Polar Express!!!! ;)

    Welcome, kiddo. Hugs to you and mega congratulations.

  3. Hi Angi,
    So thrilled to have you in Seekerville!!! Thrilled you sold!!! Thrilled you won the Golden Heart at RWA this year! Such an exciting evening. Such an exciting year for you!!!

    You've worked hard and been strategic, which seems to be a big word in the business community. Contests, as you pointed out, can be part of the strategy for publication!

    Whoo-hoo!!! Your strategy worked. Plus, you're an awesome writer. The book wouldn't have sold otherwise.

    Love the comment about the middle of the book being important. Too often that section gets overlooked.

  4. Some of you may not know that Angi coordinated the MEGA RWA Literacy Booksigning Event for a number of years. She's a born leader, organization guru and makes the hard jobs look easy.

    Thanks, Angi, for your dedication to RWA!!!

  5. I am such a weenie when it comes to first sale stories. And yours literally brought tears to my eyes.

    It is so satisfying to see someone who works so hard sell. Congratulations.

    Angi also coordinated The Great Expectations contest for many years.

    WOOOT!!! ANGI!!! Toasting you with my am java and here's to many more sales.

    When you have a chance this am tell us in detail about the the sale call and about your writing day.

    My other two favorite things lol.

    Ruth, the coffee is just right.

  6. My mantra? I'm not sure I have one, Angie, but if I did, I think it would be something like, "I'm almost there. Don't give up."

    Finaling in the Genesis this year did open doors for me otherwise closed. Two agents requested a full manuscript at the conference, and I believe it was based solely on that contest final. Now, I'm trying not to panic and worry if my story is good enough. I'm just pushing through revisions, and I'll lay it in God's hands when that time comes.

    Thanks for sharing your encouraging words.

  7. Mornin' ladies.

    What is it with Seekerville and God's timing anyway?!

    Welcome Angi - sounds like the overnight success of hard work, paying your dues, BELIEVING in your story, and, and and... all the things you mentioned, resulted in that door being blasted open!! Congratulations!

    I returned from a weekend conference yesterday afternoon, pooped and disgruntled about the state of publishing in my chosen field. Moral relativism has steered us to a slippery steep slope (had to sneak in the alliteration this morning, trying to get my brain working, thanks Ruthy for the cawfee). We're about to fall off the cliff.

    Thx Friend of Seekerville Melanie for your encouragement.

    I've only been seriously hard at this 3 1/2 yrs, so still paying my dues. Your post today is a great reminder to believe in your own story.

    I have my voice (so I've been repeatedly told) but still working on several aspects to the story itself. Diligently rewriting since August, so this is my mantra now - revise with a plan (thx Sandra), (re)finish the mss. and target a select group of editors/agents with it. Most importantly, nodding to Debby's work, apply The Writer's Prayer, and remember all in His good timing.

    Wordy this morning - sorry gang.

    Excited to hear more about the call and such. Will be back after awhile. Happy fall y'all - it finally got here this weekend!

  8. Okay I forgot my mantra.



    Of course from the movie Galaxy Quest.

  9. My mantra? Hmm. Don't know that I even pinpointed it before now. I guess it would be, "Get working." I tend to second guess myself a lot and not be confident.

    One thing I felt God whispering to me at the conference last weekend, was to keep writing. I felt confirmation that this is what God called me to do, ever since I was a little girl. Guess I need to get busy! :)

    Jodie Wolfe

  10. What a great Monday posting! It makes me want to get right to work. Best of luck with your books, Angi :)

    ~Mia Ross

  11. Angie, Welcome to Seekerville and congrats on your debut novel. And thanks for all you do for us writers. Tina and Debby have quite a list there. whew girl.

    Congrats on those contest wins also. What a great testimony.

    Edwina, I'm going to use your mantra BICHOK. Love it.
    And need it.

    Ruthy, So thankful the chocolate velvet is already made. yes. Egg white sandwiches. yuk girlfriend. Forget those and give me a donut.

    KC what conference did you go to?

  12. hey
    it was a big children's writers regional conference, S C B W I. Sold out with 120 attendees. Most of it was excellent, but the stuff that is passing for "children's literature" once you get past picture books... OMGosh. It would make romance writers blush, or worse.

    My main character is spayed so - HA! Not an issue for her. ;D

    The more gritty, edgy, anti-authority, salacious - the more the publishing houses seem to be interested.

    I'm just lamenting the loss of good stories being good merely for the stories... Today it seems, you have to "push the boundaries"... Y'all pray for secular children's literature and those who are the gatekeepers.

    And you parents of middle grade and teens - seriously, seriously READ what your kids are reading FIRST.

    Thanks for YA writers like Melanie Dickerson. She will light the way for others.

    (sorry this is off topic here)

  13. Congrats on the sale, Angi, and thank you for sharing your writing journey with us. Man can I ever relate to your fast-tracking to publication! I and the Steeple Hill book club members had a copy of 'Dreaming of Home' in our hands less than seven months after I got the call! Wild isn't it?? My sale came from a contest win, too (Golden Pen)! And I totally agree not to mess with the Golden Heart until you've spent some time in the chapter contests--gotten feedback. It's amazing how, living deep in our story, our eyes see our manuscript in a very different, very flawless way than do judges. If you get good judges who can pinpoint areas to be strengthened, contest feedback is worth its weight in gold.

  14. KC Was it the Editor day in Scottsdale ARizona?

    And I know what you mean about the YA. yikes. When I was teaching junior high it was difficult to find books for my students that I could bring into the classroom.

    They of course could pick their own books, but we could only provide g rated from district funds. Tough

    Thankfully Christian publishers are getting YA out there.

  15. Good morning all! I'm heading to work, but will check in later.

    Angi will pop today, I'm sure. Maybe she's on West Coast time....for some reason, I'm thinking that, but I'm not 100% sure.

    And our down and dirty, cut-to-the-chase, when all else fails, mantra must be:

    Just Write!

    But first we have to get out of bed in the morning. ha

  16. I agree, Angi! There comes a point where you just have to have faith in your writing. And prayer helps too! Like the prayer I was praying the day I got The Call. "God, please let Zondervan love my book!"

    And I need to adopt your mantra, Just keep writing. Lately mine has been: If I survive these "crucial" three months of marketing, maybe I can write another book!

  17. Right back atcha, KC! We are lights in a dark world.

  18. Before getting started, I want to publicly admit that Vince is a braver man than I am. I would have never waded into this past weekend's grass skirt debate.

    On to today...


    Congrats on your sale and your belief that what you were doing was right as it saw you through.

    I don't know if i have a mantra, other than just to say to myself that I'm on the right path. You can make changes to a story and not know if it's right or wrong. I know the changes I've made have improved my writing. Now I just have to find the right place.

  19. Edwina,
    YOU CAN DO IT! especially if you have BICHOK.

    With my first agent I got into the habit of only writing partials. When I sold the second book (on partial) I was frightened I wouldn't remember how to write & finish a book. Glad I'm over that hurdle.


  20. Donuts?

    I just gained three pounds THINKING about them. No dunkin' for me folks...I'm down almost 80 pounds this year and fried anything is NOT allowed. :-)

    So I'll sit here eating my oatmeal and drinking my first of 6 bottles of water today.

    ENJOY those donuts !

  21. Ruth...CONGRATULATIONS on the sale. I'm so glad for you.

    If you're still here, how long was it from THE CALL to book on the shelves? Maybe you can give me some pointers.


  22. Hey Debby,

    Just keep writing--my mantra for this year--derived from "Just Keep Swimming" in Finding Nemo. Most of the time I felt like Dori, swimming and swimming and swimming until someone finally showed me the way to Sydney. Okay --weird analogy, but *I* had a lot of friends show me the way and help me believe in myself. THAT's important too. Get a great, positive attitude around you and keep it there.


  23. Hey Debby,

    Just keep writing--my mantra for this year--derived from "Just Keep Swimming" in Finding Nemo. Most of the time I felt like Dori, swimming and swimming and swimming until someone finally showed me the way to Sydney. Okay --weird analogy, but *I* had a lot of friends show me the way and help me believe in myself. THAT's important too. Get a great, positive attitude around you and keep it there.



    Thanks for the kind words. It was a great job "organizing" all the volunteers and the room. People kept calling me "organized" and I just didn't get it. ME? Organized? Naw...I just waste my time well.



    Getting THE CALL. Well, I got two. I was talking to a girlfriend (writer) on the phone while she was at work...she'd hang up, do some work and then call right back. We were discussing what would happen if Harlequin did NOT buy Hill Country Holdup (See Jane Run at the time). *I* didn't want to think about that, but knew this round at Harlequin was my last shot.

    SOOOO...we hung up, the cell rang again and I noticed it was my agent. My heart went into panic mode, but then the words were: Angi...they want the book. Speechless. YES, ME! Speechless. Couldn't think of a thing to say. I had to force the words out: I really am excited. Then she said: Do you want the GOOD news? What could be better than selling? They wanted a Sept 2010 release. Are you kidding me? ten months? Wowsers!

    THEN I got to experience everything again with my editor who called about half an hour later. And that rollercoaster just hasn't stopped.


  26. My Mantra?
    Well, for years it was, "God please let me get a book published."

    (Instinctively knowing it was going to take direct intervention for the diety, of course)

    Then it changed to, "God please let my work be better than I'm capable of making it."

    Now it's pretty much, "God bless, Pam. Her turn. Her turn. Her turn."

  27. Congratulations on the sale, Angi! And what a great story on how you got "the call."

    My motto this week is "...Full speed ahead!" A partial quote from Admiral David Farragut. Just keep on chugging no matter what's thrown my way.


  28. Hi Angi,

    Great story! We love first sale stories around here!

    My mantra right now is "When the time is right, I will sell."

    And I keep learning and writing. What fun!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

  29. Welcome to Seekerville, Angi. Congratulations on the release of Hill Country Holdup! Love the cover. And hearing about your journey to publication. So many of us either sold because of contest finals or perhaps we just wore the editors down. Whatever it takes! LOL Seriously contests brought me together with the Seekers, a huge blessing!!


  30. ~~MY WRITING DAY?~~

    Hmm... I'm a lazy writer. I avoid. But when you have to write a book in nine weeks (second sale) you find a way to write every minute of the day and let the toilets get a little dingy. I know this sounds weird, but I give thanks that I hurt my knee last spring and had to have knee surgery in the middle of writing .38 Caliber Cover-Up. I definitely BICHOKed from my couch and laptop.

    I wrote two-thirds of that book in 20 minute sprints. I'm actually proposing a workshop about sprinting. Anyone can write, clean, exercise, whatever in 20 minute sprints. It's awesome. But the secret is to have someone on-line with you while you take a ten-minute break. Okay--that sounds confusing, I can explain it better to anyone who's interested.


  31. Dianna,
    All you can do is your best. Totally believe that! And realize that once you've given it your best, it's out of your hands. That's the part of this business YOU can do anything about. No worries, just believe--

    God's timing is always perfect. I couldn't believe that I hurt my knee (it's an important part of my part-time job to be able to push/pull about 100 pounds). Just couldn't believe it. THEN I sold the second book, they wanted a very quick turn-around for a February release! Knee surgery was the best thing this summer. Forced me to write.

    And selling? Well...there's no way I could have handled a nine-week book with children of any age at home. God's timing is always perfect.


  32. KC fall arrived here in North Texas too. It'll get warm again, but right now it's awesome.

    I just touched on God's Timing in my reply to Dianna...but I thoroughly believe that He wants the best for us and will give it to us when we're ready. That's hard to remember, especially during the two years I didn't have the drive to produce and submit (YES, I did have a completely down period when I didn't think or believe it would happen).

    But during that time, I stayed close to my writer friends, learned, soaked up the encouragement, practiced some more, and discovered what was wrong with a very good manuscript.

    Without those two years, I wouldn't have found the answer to what was wrong...I wouldn't have been able to fix it...wouldn't have been able to sell it.

    They were hard, but God's timeing is perfect.

    AND YES TINA !! Never Give Up! Never Surrender!! (Just bought the delux version of Galaxy Quest. LOL)

  33. OK, I need to hear about sprinting! With a full-time job, full-time husband and varsity soccer season in full-swing with a full-time teenager, my life, if you haven't guessed, is FULL!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Angi. I haven't been a finalist, but have gotten some good scores, suggestions that have made my story better. I love what you said, though, about sticking to your guns to keep it YOUR story. I think, at one point, I was in danger of caving to every suggestion, but there were a few things that I just had to leave in, because they were ME!

    Congratulations, and can't wait to read your books!


  34. Jodie -- The one thing about our weird writing brains is that they never stop. When the story's ready to get on the'll get there.

    It'll happen. BICHOK and it'll get on the page.


  35. THANK YOU MIA (and everyone).

    I think I might even be inspiring myself to get some words on the page today. (Well, I mean, by being here I'm getting inspired! LOL)

    I just finished my last round of edits on the 2nd I need to sell a third. Always something. Right?


  36. Sandra,

    Great mantra to adopt! I'm offering gentle encouragement to stick with it! (If you need a stronger kick-in-the-behind...well, I can do that too!)

    And I've been blessed in many ways especially with friendships because of the volunteering. I'm so glad I did it--correction DO IT. I'm still the coordinator for Great Expectations ( 2011 contest info will be up this week with a list of final-round editors.



    "The more gritty, edgy, anti-authority, salacious - the more the publishing houses seem to be interested."

    This really saddens my heart. My granddaughter wants me to write her own story ideas since there's nothing a 10-year-old can read on the shelves.

    It's a scarey world.

  38. Angi, congrats!! And thanks for being with us today!

    I love what you said about your book and how you claimed it as your story. You have to be choosy in what feedback you accept. You can't take critique from a thousand different people and "fix" the story to make them all happy, or you'll lose yourself (your voice, your vision). So good for you for listening when appropriate and learning from it, but then knowing when you were ready with you writing to trust yourself.

    One of the main things I see in judging contests are stories that are good with good writing. But they don't have heart. They are cookie cutter copies, written as expected. But they don't move me. As a reader, I want to be moved! I want to experience emotion. It sounds like your entry stood out because it had heart.

    Congrats again!!

    Wowsers, 7 months. That's terrific and super fast.

    "If you get good judges who can pinpoint areas to be strengthened..."

    Great advice is awesome...just be strong enough to recognize the good from the not-so-perfect. There is a time with every manuscript where the AUTHOR is the only one who knows its story.


  40. PAM -- JUST WRITE is a great mantra.

    And I'm a sleepy-head. With no kids in the house and a husband who has flexible hours...well, we tend to be night owls and sleep a bit later. So this really is my first stop of the day. LOL

    No coffee for the bleary-eyed...just water and oatmeal and there's my diet's honey-mustard pretzels in my near future.

    Have a great day at work!

  41. Hey Melanie !
    Write, write, and write. As I mentioned before though...My friend Cathy Spangler calls it "perculating." When we can't get the words onto the page, or sometimes they may be stalled...our subconscious is still working (perculating) those story ideas. Makes it easier to get the words onto the page when we do have time.


  42. Angi,

    My writing mantra for the last two years is "move forward". I've set rigorous yearly goals to help me move forward in my writing career. AND it paid off with a contract from Barbour this year but I know that I have to keep this mind frame to keep the momentum going.

    Congratulations on your debut book!

    KC & Melanie-I'm right there with you on the children's book business. What the publishers are putting out for Tweens and YA is shocking. I picked up a Gossip Girl book to see what all the hoopla was about and absolutely couldn't believe a publishers targets tweens with these books. Sad!

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  43. Hmmm, I didn't give my mantra. I guess I need one, so...

    Work quicker and do better each time!

  44. Very True Walt!

    We never know for certain if the changes are the correct ones. I can't really explain it...maybe I finally got STUBBORN regarding the story-line, the characters, word choice. I don't know.


  45. You know I kept looking at your photo thinking you had lost weight, but it isn't PC to ask. I have often put my grass skirt in my mouth.


  46. ~~ WORD CHOICE ~~
    Sometimes, contests and revisions get us to tone down and homogenize our writing. (TONE DOWN in using words that everyone understands, making all characters educated instead of not.)

    I heard something at conference this year from a Senior Senior (not an acquiring editor--higher) at Harlequin (sorry I can't remember his name)...

    He was advising writers to keep colloquialisms and regional flavor in their stories. If a character was from the south, they should sound like they were from the south--or California, Texas, Canada...wherever. He was disappointed that 90% of what they read actually sounded from ANYwheresville USA.


  47. Mary --LOVE THIS.
    (Instinctively knowing it was going to take direct intervention for the diety, of course)

    I think that's a part of every writer's mantra!


  48. Thanks Kirsten & Sue.

    I think FULL SPEED AHEAD is a great mantra for us all to have this week.


  49. "So many of us either sold because of contest finals or perhaps we just wore the editors down."

    When my editor asked what name I wanted to publish under...they asked me to keep "ANGI" for name recognition. The editors 'recognized' it. LOL


  50. Angi is like the drill sargeant of writers' contest consultants. But I love her straightforward, earnest approach, and the reminder to use contests as a tool, not entering for entry's sake.

  51. ~~ SPRINTING ~~

    Situation: My youngest is in college, but home for the summer--I'm on the couch needing to write--I have a bum knee I have to move constantly... And I'm stuck. Can't get three coherent words on paper--Some writer friends are in a chat room so I join them.

    We're chatting away then it's ONE MINUTE (:09)...hmmm....BE BACK AT THE :30...huh? ALL CHATTING STOPS.
    :30 chatting starts, word counts are reported
    :40 chatting stops, everyone writes for twenty minutes.
    :00 chatting resumes, word counts, reminders to--stretch, get water, change the laundry, load the dishwasher--but you have to be back at :09

    And since people can join in a chat room (we use from anywhere in the can have someone challenging you to write at any time of the day.

    It works. I even do it by myself. Put myself into the chat room where I know others will be joining me anytime. I log my word count so someone knows I'm writing besides myself.

    It works. I advise everyone to use the 20 minutes on/10 minutes off schedule. It keeps everyone chatting at the same time--that's important.

    Glad to answer any questions.

  52. I was on a panel of published writers and writer's contests came up.

    One lady, multi-published, talked about the cost, effort and limited results she's seen from writer's contests and warned against them.

    My turn, I said, "I give a writer's contest credit for the fact that I'm published."

    It was just a great illustration of how differently we all stage our assault on the stubborn door to the published world.

  53. REGINA !

    Just keep in mind what several have reminded us today: God's timing is perfect.

    The two years I didn't concentrate on my writing...well, I graduated two girls from high school. LOVED every minute of being a part of their last years as "children." I wouldn't trade the time I devoted to my family --none of it.

    So enjoy your family. Always.


    DITTO everything you said. I'll put a spin on writing with heart. Because I've been asked: Is See Jane Run (now Hill Country Holdup)the book of your heart?

    ANSWER: of course. But then EVERY book I write is the book of my heart. IF I didn't write putting all my heart into every story...what kind of story would that be? Not something *I* want to read.

    SO YES! Write from your heart.
    It'll show in your words.

  55. I would like to pass on the drawing, but WOW great information! Thanks so much especially since I consider entering contests! :) Congrats on the new release. :)

  56. Rose -- you're totally right.

    I keep reminding myself that you need to:
    write a book
    edit a book
    promote a book

    ALL at the same time.
    Gotta keep those balls in the air to have a career.

    In fact, my daughter (my biggest encourager) just called to ask if I was writing today. She reminded me that I only gave myself two weeks of "basking" in the first release. LOL

    I will write fact, I'm going to be sprinting in just a little while.


  57. Two messages disappeared into cyber space...three's a charm, right?

    I didn't leave a mantra...

    Mary mentioned one from her prepubbed days.

    Mine was: Sell before I die. Really.

    Now it's more like what Rose wrote:
    Keep moving forward.

    But I do like BICHOK!!! Thanks, Edwina.

  58. Angi,
    Love the 20 min on/10 min off idea. We need a Seekerville writing/chat room day!

  59. "Love the 20 min on/10 min off idea. We need a Seekerville writing/chat room day!" Debby

    Please invite me! I'll be there if I'm not traveling.


  60. "You know I kept looking at your photo thinking you had lost weight, but it isn't PC to ask. CONGRATULATIONS!!!" Tina

    Thank you. I told my health coach that I'd announce it to the world when I hit 80 pounds lost (since the end of March)...hopefully that will be this week. Just 20 more to go to reach goal weight.


  61. ~~ Patricia & Casey ~~
    Thanks much !

    My son the Marine STAFF SEARGENT would get a kick out of you calling me one.

    Contests have played an important role in my writing career. They give not only validity to your work, but give you confidence that you might--just might--know a thing or two about writing.

    I believe in contests, but I also want writers to know they are a stepping stone and not a guarantee to publication.


  62. Angi, what a GREAT post!! Welcome to Seekerville -- you are a blessing they way you've shared your story and your wealth of info in each of your personal comments to readers.

    You said regarding contests: The suggestions others made were taken under consideration, but I followed my instinct, wrote the story the way *I* wanted to read it. And it sold.

    AMEN to that!! Instinct is HUGE for an author. I had judges tell me multiple POVs would never work and score me low because I placed too much emphasis on subordinate characters, but that was MY style. And even though it was not the template, I wrote the story the way *I* wanted to read it as well, and when it's written from the heart like that (and not glaring in writing no-nos or mistakes), I think you have a better chance of catching an editor's eye as possibly being something unique and special.

    So thank you for emphasizing that. That alone makes me want to read your book, never mind the great cover and blog today! :)


  63. Hey Julie !
    First THANKS for wanting to read the book. I hope you enjoy it.

    You said, "And even though it was not the template, I wrote the story the way *I* wanted to read it as well"

    WAAAAAYYYY back in my contest days, I was getting scores where two people would give it an almost perfect...and the third would score very low. A very good writer told me THAT'S AWESOME. Huh? WELL IT MEANS THAT YOU'VE COMPLETELY HOOKED ALL YOUR AUDIENCE. She went onto explain that even the judges giving the low scores had a viscreal response (bad, but still deep). So I was hitting a nerve somewhere (which was great).

    And then she said: Two out of three readers returning to buy the 2nd book...that's a great readership.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that she was right.

  64. I did have a mantra that got me through the labor and delivery of my fourth (and last) child.

    "Don't ever get pregnant again."
    "Don't forget how much this hurts."
    "Don't let the love for an adorable new baby give you amnesia"
    "Don't ever get pregnant again."

    Repeat through every contraction for HOURS.

    This was in that dark days between the amnesia of ether and the simplicity of epidural blocks.

    Alllll natural. I'm surprised they didn't make me bite on a bullet.

    Hey! A mantra is a mantra, right?

  65. Ruthy:
    Thanks for covering for me with the coffee. It's appreciated.

    I especially liked your comment about following your instincts and writing *YOUR* story.

    I guess my mantra is: Stop being a COWARD and learn to trust my instincts, stick to MY story, and not get discouraged.

    I've been entering contests, even finaling in a couple, but I've had trouble determining which comment to take to heart and which to ignore.


  66. Congrats, Angi. I do some judging for contests and there are always some stories that I hope to see published someday. Your story is inspiring.

  67. 67 comments?????

    Oh my stars, do we have enough food?

    Checking now.

  68. Ang, mine was like yours and Glynna's...

    Got the call in June, the first book was scheduled for March and hit the book club subscrivers late January, so about a seven-month window.

    And I keep fooling them into buying more (have I mentioned today that I love my editors, the whole Steeple Hill team???) so we put out three in '10 and have four slated for '11...

    Amazing stats. Amazing numbers. I still pinch myself if Mary's not around. If Connealy is nearby she pinches me FOR me, so I don't get the big head... ;)

    Ask away. It's been a crazy fun whirlwind of learning, stumbling, falling, standing up, brushing off my knees and pulling my big girl panties back up and getting on with it.

    But fun. So fun. Living the dream and NO REGRETS.

    Totally awesome.

  69. That weight loss...

    Oh, honey, congratualations. You are an example of perseverance, patience and self-discipline.

    We might need to bottle you.

    (No, Mary, I didn't say "throttle" her, I said "bottle" here, like to spread her strength around... She's too cute to throttle, now you know that. Here, take a diet soda, there's a good girl...)

  70. Hey Tina --
    Thanks for reading about me. Popped over to your blog. Very cool. I'm your picture from Colorado?


  71. "But fun. So fun. Living the dream and NO REGRETS."

    Ain't that the truth!
    I hope to have that same track record Ruth. We're working on more for 2011 right now. CONGRATULATIONS--whew...7 books in 2 years. Okay--did you have any of them already written?


  72. (No, Mary, I didn't say "throttle" her, I said "bottle" here, like to spread her strength around... She's too cute to throttle, now you know that. Here, take a diet soda, there's a good girl...)

    Regarding the weight loss...lose it or die young? What a motivator! All my "levels" are great now so no worries. Feel great. Easy life-style changes. Hubby lost 27 pounds. If *I* can do it, anyone can.


  73. Hey said, "I guess my mantra is: Stop being a COWARD and learn to trust my instincts, stick to MY story, and not get discouraged."

    I have a new mantra for you:
    I Dare to be a writer!

    Find your support, your positive, your encouragement and Dare to Write !!


  74. Angi,
    Okay, let me start by saying CONGRATULATIONS on selling!!!! Woot, woot!! *grin*

    Next, I need to put this up on the table: I'm not a writer! Lol...I'm merely a college freshman with high hopes of maybe writing some for myself in the future, but you know definitely not yet!

    Your post was really great though. There are always so many uplifting for me, even just to encourage me to write lol. I'm impressed with your determination! I think that all authors, or up-and-coming authors, are so strong, I mean you have to be! Otherwise, you won't ever get anywhere.

    My mantra would probably have to be taken from a children's book: "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!" Then just keep chugging on...

    Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us all in Seekerville! I would love a chance to win your book, if I'm still allowed : ) Once again, congrats on your success, there are sure to be many, many more in your future!!
    Talk to you soon,

  75. Hello Angi,

    I didn't try to enter too many contests, but thanks to the Seekers I've tried for more.

    Fighting a migraine for the last couple of days and my mantra was probably life sucks.

    Actually, I'm not sure I have one specific to me. More scripture verses.

    I suppose I should have one that says... I want to be just like Angi... Now I have to find a contest.


    the fact that you kept on is something we all need to remember.

    Thanks again for the post

  76. Wow, Angi! Congrats on the weight loss!

    I'm struggling with weight myself--too much BICHOK, not enough exercise. It's coming off slowly.

    My mantra: DON'T LOSE THE JOY.

    My writing experience is a little different than yours, I write romantic comedy scripts. I've been writing for over six years. I had one rom-com option, but it never got made.

    The experience has been a bit daunting. There was a lot of drama, a few months back that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I was so discouraged that I took a six-month hiatus. I hardly wrote, and when I tried, it was gut-wrenching.

    You're right, though. It is all about timing. Last month, I went to a writers conference, and it put everything in perspective for me. I went in as a blocked writer with no confidence. I came out with courage to write, and confidence in knowing that I really was a good writer.

    During the past month, I've written more than I had all last year. I blogged. I wrote a story that had been nagging at me for over a year. I wrote three chapters on my first novel. And it all prepared me ready for this past week.

    I got a call from a producer that wanted to read one of my scripts. She was busy with another project, so she gave me a week to get my script polished. In the space of seven days, I did four complete drafts, two polishes, lost five pounds because I forgot to eat, slept whenever I was tired (which wasn't that often), and got it to her first thing this morning.

    And I had a blast doing it.

    It's done, it's out there, and it's one of those things where you know it works. Even if it doesn't get made, even if everyone hates it, I know it's my best work. And I have a strong suspicion that this is my year!

  77. HANNAH !!
    "Thank you so much for taking the time to visit..."

    You're very welcome. I'm glad I was invited. And of course your name's in the basket for the book.

    Lovin' the "I think I can" mantra. As a college freshman you should be THINKING YOU CAN EVERYTHING !!

    Good for you!

  78. ~~Hey Tina~~
    Hugs on the migrain. I had one at the end of last week (a side-affect from cortisone in my knee).

    Not sure I'm a mantra. LOL But I do hope that everyone can stick with the writing and eventually sell.

    Thanks bunches,

  79. WOO HOO ANNA !!
    How exciting for you!
    I hope everything works out and I'll be able to read the credits and say...I blogged with her! LOL

    Seriously, nothing but good things for you my new friend!


  80. BY THE WAY -- in case you're wondering about my avatar picture...

    this photo was taken just after midnight on August 1st. It was the first time I'd seen my book on sale, about three hours after I'd won the RWA Golden Heart.


  81. Thanks for the great post and the great insight on entering contests. We have to be careful about the reason why we're entering these contests, don't we? :)
    My goal is to keep writing, to finish those stories that I begin.

    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  82. Thanks, Angi!

    Your personal backstory is very encouraging. I'm so glad you blogged about this today! It was the pep-talk that I needed to hear.

  83. ~~Hello Cynthia~~
    "My goal is to keep writing, to finish those stories that I begin."

    An excellent goal and one I need to adopt today. I still need to write my words. I'll be sprinting for a while. >>vbg<<

    .l38 Caliber Cover-Up is a story that I wrote myself into a corner about 7 times. I literally got halfway through the book (pantzer) and had to walk away from it. When it sold...sheeze, I actually had to finish it. But I had different goals by then--it needed to be an Intrigue which had specific requirements. No more writing myself into a corner.

    Turned out pretty good (even if I say so myself).



  84. Thanks for the great post, Angi.
    I've been entering contests for a year and a half with some pretty good results.
    The critiques are important to me for learning, especially if more than one person critiques the same thing.
    Thanks so much for the encouragement.
    Mantra: Who God calls He also equips

    His Will. His Time. My Perserverance

  85. Thanks for this, Angi. Having a strategy is important and isn't the same thing as having a goal. This is the year that I decided I needed both, and I'm happy to see progress happening on both fronts.

    The only contests I've entered didn't offer feedback, so they weren't learning situations. I did final a couple times so I felt I was on the right track. My mantra has been "Keep trying."

    Congratulations on your debut novel!

  86. "Mantra: Who God calls He also equips -- His Will. His Time. My Perserverance"

    Just Awesome.

    I have to put in a plug for my chapter's contest. Great Expectations is great for feedback. We actually give a judge training to help teach good feedback. And since we give the training, it's an awesome place to get your feet wet to judge. >>vbg<<


  87. ~~ Thank you Carol ~~
    And it's great to hear that you've got goals and a strategy. After all is said and done, Publishing is a Business.


  88. Angi,
    Well truth be told, I feel really! Having arthritis at 18 can do that to ya

    : P

    All the more reason I need the "I think I can..." mantra, eh?

    Well you didn't have to accept! So I still think you deserve a thank you for taking the time *grin*

    Gahhhhhhh.....cold! Lol! Chilly, rainy New England night tonight. But watching Castle makes me feel all fuzzy inside! Bahahahaah!!
    Talk to everyone later!

  89. It's been such a busy night!! And looks like Seekerville had a busy day!

    Yay for Angi.

    Hope you enjoyed your day soaking up the sun in Seekerville.

  90. Btw, Angi,
    I totally understand the 'sprinting' idea.
    I'm thinking of writing a book called "How Many Stoplights does it take to Write a Novel?" :-)

  91. Pepper, I like that idea, other than the fact that there is only one stop light between me and the 30 minute drive to the day job.


  92. Pam,
    The answer is:
    One + about 170 days? ;-)
    Depending on which clinic, I get to go through 3 to about 7.
    It's amazing how one sentence here and one sentence there add up to...
    illegible scribbles on napkins :-)

  93. My mantra this year was/is: Submit 10 in 2010. Have I submitted 10? NO! But, the year is not over. I have over 10 completed works to fine tune and submit. I need to quit fine tuning and submit.

    Each year I decide on a mantra and put it in my signature - not to inform others, but to keep myself on track. In 2009 it was: 2009-the year I shine. Did I shine? Well, I completed 3 partly finished WIP, so I guess I could say I did, though that was NOT what I had in mind.

    In 2008 it was: Submit 8 in 2008. No, I didn't do that.

    Now I just have to come up with something great for 2011 - and follow through. I really feel 2011 will be my year to get published. I am retired now (I think, if I don't go back to work) so have lots of time.

  94. The answer is:
    One + about 170 days? ;-)

    My answer is:
    First chapter = 4 years
    next 30 pages = 2 weeks
    next 170 pages = 9 weeks
    (completely edited because of great critique partners who loved loved loved me)

    Anything's possible. LOL

  95. Evelyn,

    I love this mantra!
    "Submit 10 in 2010"

    So to quote another: JUST DO IT!
    Follow through and submit!


  96. Angi,
    There's another mantra ;-)
    "anything's possible"

  97. ~~THANK YOU & FRIEND ME ! ~~

    Before the day gets away from me, I want to thank everyone here for inviting me and having a great discussion. My writer friends are what keep me going in this tremendously hard business.

    Please 'friend' me on Facebook: Angi Morgan (friends and fan page). I'd love to keep up with all of you. And guys & dolls, you need to follow through on your mantras, goals, and career plans.

    I think Pam's going to draw a name for a copy of my book. And I'm not gone... Kind of wondering if we'll hit that 100 comments mark. (Very cool)

    AND if you're interested, I'm discussing if location details are important to you as a reader at I'll also be on the (Intrigue author Group Blog) on Wednesday, 9-29.

    Thanks again!

  98. Thanks for a great post Angi. Congratulations to you! My mantra would have to be:
    Keep educating myself and keep writing!

  99. Whoo-hoo! I think this makes 100 comments! lol

    And yes, I'm going to draw a name to be announced in the Weekend Edition as well as here on Angi's post.

    Angi, you were the bestest guest! Thanks for pulling up and chair and chatting with the Friends of Seekerville.

    A lovely time was had by all!

  100. The Winner of Angi Morgan's Hill Country Holdup is

    Cynthia Chow!!!

    Congratulations Cynthia!

    Angi, thanks for being such an awesome guest.