Angela began her writing career at the tender age of six. Yes, a stapled notebook paper in booklet form, she was sure her four page masterpiece would be a bestseller. Since then, she has published two novels from the “Looking for Me” trilogy.
Angela was recently awarded the First Annual Soul Sister Creative Writing Award. Her upcoming titles include: “Looking for Me II: Bitter Sweet Lies and Soul Ties” (set to release in February 2013); “Looking for Me III: The Crooked Circle;” “Inconvenient Love;” and “I Am WOMAN and I Ain’t Scared”.
A sought after keynote speaker for women’s conferences, seminars, and empowerment lectures, Angela speaks with insight and electric power while holding true to her own unique style. If she’s not working on her latest spicy novel, you can find her reading, engaged in politics, or indulging her sweet addiction to chocolate. As Angela celebrates the beauty of every day, she looks forward to seeing what the next chapter of her life will bring.
About “Looking for Me”
Looking for Me is Angela’s debut novel, the first of a planned trilogy detailing the emotional journey of a young woman whose life has been shaped by horrific circumstances.
Heroine, Remona “Mona” Bishop was forced into a world swarming with confusion, hatred, and abuse too horrid to speak of. After the death of her beloved grandmother, Big Momma, Mona is thrust into the foster care system. But all of the “old folk” teaching that Big Momma instilled in her was washed away with pain, shame, and haunted dreams. After running away from her foster care home, Mona lands into the arms of Lee - a free spirit, enticed by the tango with danger. It is then Mona’s soul is fed the love it has been long starving for. But when Lee gets the opportunity to follow his dream, the world he’d once desired becomes his worst enemy. Can Mona save Lee and restore the man she’d fell in love with? Or will she adjoin his spiraling decline for the sake of love?
DP: When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
Angela: Wow! I have been writing stories almost as long as I have been reading. I began my writing career at the tender age of six. Yes, stapled notebook paper in booklet form. Back then, I was sure my four page masterpiece would be a bestseller. Because I come from a generation when children didn’t have to be entertained, we made our own fun. I would occasionally be in a certain mood, often on boring rainy days when we were forced to stay inside, or when I was feeling especially melancholy, I would write stories, songs and plays -of which my sisters and other neighborhood girls would perform. Thinking back, those were really great times. Other than God who obviously is the source of my talent, I inherited my gift of story from my mother. As far back as I can remember she’s written poems and stories or either had her head buried in a book. Those factors combined, nurtured my desire to write and became fond material for ‘Looking for Me.’
DP: How did you decide on the idea for your first book?
Angela: In a former life, I used to host a women’s group called “Sisters Helping Sisters.” This group provided a safe haven for ladies in the community to talk openly about their issues and struggles without fear of judgment. Women divulged secrets in the group they had never shared with their mothers, fathers, spouses, or friends. When listening to stories, I quickly realized that many of the women had no sense of themselves. The tragedies they had endured, acts perpetrated against them, things that had happened in their lives shaped their perception of themselves and others around them. They had no clue of who they were or the women God had intended them to be. I can’t begin to tell you what a powerful experience this was. Even after I gave birth to my daughter and moved on to other things, those stories remained with me. So, ultimately, LOOKING FOR ME is a story of self-discovery, hope, and the resolve of a woman digging deeper than she thought possible trying to find the strength not to completely crumble.
DP: How long did it take you to write your first book?
Angela: I always tell people, writing this novel in a sense was like giving birth and just as grueling. I’m sure female authors who are mothers can attest. First, I conceived the idea, then the title. I fed it, nurtured it, and watched as it took on a life of its own. Two years later, on July 10, 2012 weighing in at 44 ounces and 8.5 inches long, my baby girl was born. I simply cannot express the joy my hubby and I feel welcoming this new edition to our family!
DP: Did you self-publish or are you signed to a publishing company?
Angela: I'm with One Karma Publishing. Honestly, I consider One Karma as family. At the time I signed with them, I was in negotiations with three other publishing houses. As a new author, one-on-one attention was important to me. I’d say vital. The pun here is definitely intended, if a publisher was going to pop my cherry, I at least wanted them to call me in the morning or be available when I called. In fact, I was looking for a publisher who would literally take me by the hand and walk me through the intricate complexities of the publishing industry. I was particularly struck by One Karma’s commitment to excellence, and open door policy, as well as their nurturing and conducive environment for new authors. I was involved with every aspect of the process, from the concept of the dream to making ‘Looking for Me’ a published reality.
DP: How did you decide on the cover for your most recent book?
Angela: I had a vision in my head of what I wanted the cover to look like. After a few conversations, drafts, trial and error, the graphics design department of One Karma Publishing brought it to fruition.
DP: Tell us about your writing style. Do you write on a schedule?
Angela: Yes, I do keep to a schedule. I tend to be my most creative in the mornings.
My writing style is especially challenging because as a pastor, it is not my custom to use such words as damn, shit, and motherf— well, you know. However, I found it necessary to trifle through my vast treasure of words and dust off a few undesirables, but solely for the purpose of applauding and celebrating realism. I desperately wanted to exhibit relatable and memorable characters, while remaining true to my voice. I realize in the eyes of some, I might lose a few cool points for my explicitness, but I simply had to take it there. Had I not done that, it would have taken away from the story I was attempting to tell. While I on the other hand, have also been told from others, “You gained cool points in my book.” Readers should strap in tight and hang on for the ride of a lifetime!
DP: What makes your writing unique?
Angela: I’m a realist. I’m very open, honest, blatant and tell-it-like-it-is and a bit radical at times! Unlike most Christian writers, I’m not afraid to touch issues considered taboo. Even with that said, I must confess, I struggled with certain subject matters as well as some of the content addressed in this novel because I knew it would play out on a public stage. The series Looking for Me is very colorful and some parts quite graphic. My novel is a story of life and I didn’t want to dress it in a decorated white box and tie a big red bow around it. Life is sometimes ugly and painful.
DP: As a writer, what motivates you?
Angela: My family hands down! My inspiration to write again came from my daughter Sydney. Notice, I said “write again.” When I was a young girl, I dreamt of becoming a famous author. As with most people, through the course of time I let my dreams slip away, little by little, eventually abandoning them. Sydney was six at the time when we was sharing a conversation about what she and I wanted to be when we grow up. Sydney has big plans of one day becoming a ‘superstar.’ She talked in great detail about singing on stage, and blowing kisses at her adoring fans. Watching her prance around and act out the whole scene gave my heart great joy; my cup positively ran over.
As Sydney finished her routine, she took her bow and turned to me, giving me a message that changed my life as well as what I believed about myself: “Mommy you can be a superstar, too, if you want to.” Simple in word and delivery, but it spoke to a part of me that for many years had lain desolate and dormant. This may sound strange to others, but I knew Sydney’s high-pitched, squeaky voice was the voice of God. It’s truly amazing what can happen when God uses someone to speak directly to your issues. Her childlike words inspired me; they validated me. I was so inspired, I made a demand on my unfulfilled dreams. I sat down that same day and, through abundance of spirit, I began to write. I knew then that Sydney’s words had connected with the power of my authentic purpose. Like Sydney, I don’t know if I will ever achieve the status of a ‘superstar,’ but I, too, believe I can. It’s never too late to learn to fly!
DP: How do you balance your writing and various responsibilities that come along with being an independent author?
Angela: I have clearly defined priorities and stick to them. Always family first without exception. I’m someone who tries to be the best mother that I can be, because that's my most important role in life. Beyond writing or any other accomplishment I’ve achieved, being a wife and mother is what I enjoy most. With that said, it is my firm belief that the best judge of my character is not what my parishioners or even my reader’s think of me, it’s what my husband and children say about me to others when I'm not around. I have additional important demand that require me to set a schedule for myself. Unless I discipline myself to stick to it, I'd be pulled in so many different directions that I wouldn't know which way was up. Discipline and focus is key!
DP: When you’re not writing what are you doing?
Angela: As I previously mentioned, my hubby and I are pastors so that keeps us quite busy. In addition, I host a local Christian television show. I’m also very involved in the extracurricular activities of my children. Lastly, if I’m not working on my latest spicy novel, you can find me curled up on the sofa wrapped in a blanket crochet by my older sister reading a book, engaged in politics (I’m a self-professed political junkie), or indulging my shamefully sweet addiction to chocolate.
DP: What’s a typical day like for you?
Angela: My day typically starts around 6:00 am. Always with a moment of prayer, a scripture reading, and a cup of hazelnut coffee. After I get the hubby off to work and the kiddos off to school, I eat a low calorie breakfast and then its Zumba time! Gotta keep that temple active and in shape. My zumba work out usually lasts about an hour, afterwards my creative juices are flowing so that’s my time to write. I generally stop writing around one-ish to do errands and prepare for my family's arrival home. Around 5 or so, I make dinner and then tune into politics while my kiddos are doing homework. I try to read with my daughter every night before bed. I also have a nightly bubble bath ritual with scented candles lit around the tub and jazz playing softly in the background. After I'm all squeaky clean and smelling good, the hubby gives me that sexy smile of his and you know....
DP: Tell us about your last book signing.
Angela: WOW! My last book signing was also my first book signing. I felt like a celebrity! Along with the venue manager, I took the time to "seriously" promote the event. It was fabulous! My book signing was held at Hastings Store which offers more than just books so I was able to draw a bigger crowd. Friends and family brought flowers, balloons and tons of well wishes. I signed books, shook hands, answered questions, and posed for photos with customers and fans. While I conducted an interview with the local newspaper, I kept those waiting entertained by playing my book trailer and a slideshow in the background. When I arrived at Hastings, I had a case of books for purchase. Within 45 minutes I was completely sold out! So I continued to sign books brought in by fans as I smiled for the camera. I had a BLAST!
DP: Do you have contests or giveaways?
Angela: Yes, everyone loves free, right? For the Christmas Holidays I offered my novel free on kindle. During the 3 day promotion, Looking for Me was downloaded by 1589 people. That's great! Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so I think I'll give away a basket of goodies in exchange for promotion.
DP: Many independent authors find it hard to get readers to buy their books. How did you handle the challenges that come along with being a first-time author in a competitive and ever-changing market?
Angela: I understand that readers are reluctant to take chances on "unnamed" or first time authors. In most cases, it takes time and experience to find your groove. My greatest feedback has been that after reading my work, readers are surprised that "Looking for Me" is my debut novel. This is a competitive industry, targeted at a few. That's why I do my best to garner as much exposure as I can to get my books in the hands of as many readers as I can. From there, I hope readers will love my work and pass the word on the others. After all, the best advertisement is that of WORD OF MOUTH.
DP: What did you do on your 2nd book that you did not do in your first one?
Angela: I was more comfortable with the dialogue and more direct with my message. With this novel, I was aiming for one of those rare, thunder booming, lightening-strike moments. I believe in today's society, women are still very much undervalued and underappreciated, sadly by other women and even themselves. We can often be our own harshest critics. The overall theme of my novel is to empower others, but particularly women, of all races and ages to possess their destiny. I so badly want women and men alike to find their own voice, and not merely live the script written by others. We shouldn't have to sacrifice our joy, happiness, or dreams because of acts perpetrated against us by others that have made us believe we are less worthy. Nor should our own actions or decisions drawn from a shallow well of wisdom have the power to do the same. I would like my novel to be used as a platform for self-reflection and honest dialogue for those experiencing issues, which ultimately steers them toward pivotal change and a more fulfilling life. And, if they fall, I want them to know they can get back up, dust off and try it again. My motto is simple “If you don’t like the hand that life has dealt you, tell the dealer to hit you again.” Life is truly what you make of it. And, it just so happens that you are not a card player and life delivers you a bucket of bitter lemons, gather those lemons and make some (oh so sugary) pink lemonade.
Point is, self-explore. Find out what you are truly passionate about and go after that. Live up to your potential and be totally satisfied with YOU! After all, we only get one shot at life, and we are entitled to as much happiness as our hearts can handle. Women should feel empowered to make their own choices regarding their careers, sexual liberation, hair style or fashion, and not have those decisions made by the events of their pasts. Regardless of past failures and regrets, (Lord knows I have a few of my own), I want others to accept and learn from their mistakes and to let go. Personally, I have made a conscious decision to accept the things I cannot change, and to release people from my life who are toxic and do not have my best interest at heart.
Most of all, I want women to step to the plate to meet the challenges of their personal survival, freedom, and dignity. Because they know they are worth it!
DP: If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming author, what would it be?
Angela: Believe in yourself, but also develop a thick skin. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but a necessary one because rejection is almost certain. But, never give up. While an agent or publisher might reject your work for a number of reasons, on the flip side, others might love it for those exact same reasons.
DP: Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Angela: My books can be found and purchased from onekarmapublishing.com, amazon.com (paperback & kindle), barnesandnoble.com (nook), smashwords.com, and in Hastings Book Stores.