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Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the great joy of chatting with CAN’s illustrious leader—our president, Angela Breidenbach! Not only is Angela an accomplished multi-published author, but she has a social media following centered around her cat Muse, she volunteers in her community—and she devotes countless hours to the Christian Authors Network. Let’s give Angela a warm welcome.

Angela, please tell us about your novel, The Debutante Queen, which is also available as an audio book!

1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail?

Angela Breidenbach

Angela Breidenbach

Great concept! What inspired you to write this book?

I love real history and adore Montana. When I learned about how Montana became a state, the drama, the street children, and the drive to be considered legitimately modern, the whole idea caught my fascination.

What is the primary focus of your book?

We see ourselves as too small. That whatever we can do is just a drop in the bucket of life. But God uses our smallness, our weakness, to make bigger things happen in ways we cannot see. He opens the eyes and hearts of people through personal connections and personal relationships. When I finished writing The Debutante Queen, I was surprised to see how the element of volunteerism surfaced. How one person could volunteer and change the lives of so many.

The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach (audio book)

The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach (audio book)

I love that! What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will be inspired to follow their own interests and volunteer in something that will change the lives around them, too. One small act could ripple through time and space in a way we don’t expect. Be that person who simply obeys God to do one thing to help a fellow human. You won’t regret it even if it seems hard in the moment.

So true! What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

I’m finding justice, forgiveness, and courage repetitive themes. They get played out through the story lines. When betrayal happens, I have the desire to achieve justice and forgiveness. I want to write characters who learn and portray courage to help others with those issues. Ironically, I didn’t realize that until I’d written several books.

How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?

I find myself really relying on prayer because it’s so easy to get stuck and not know where to go with a story. I find when that’s happening, I’ve gotten off track and forgotten to get into the directional prayer with God. But in learning I need to tap into the Creator for my creativity, I found my faith life growing.

What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?

I’m going to speak from the heart as the Christian Authors Network president. Writing is hard work. Writers give up family time to write, work regular jobs, and take time to go to events to meet readers, retailers, and librarians. There’s so much sacrifice. So much education that goes into writing a book. A full-length novel or non-fiction book can take a year to write or more.

Please consider that the Bible teaches a workman is due his wages. Writers aren’t rich, contrary to the 1/2 % that get all the news. We get a lot of predators going after our work, pirates stealing copyrighted material, taking free Advance Reader Copy books to sell online undercutting book sales, and the industry is not financially friendly to writers.

If you love a writer, please support them. It’s important to try new authors, and no one argues that used bookstores can help save a buck and it’s nice to discover someone new. But I think readers would be shocked at the very tiny amount their favorite authors earn, even with a bestseller.

If you love a writer, please honestly review their book without giving spoilers. Please consider buying a book from a retailer that is struggling to stay in business. Please consider asking your library to buy books you’d like to read. If we don’t support our authors, the creative foundation of the book world, how will they be able to write those books you love?

Amen and amen! Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?

Muse, my “felion,” inspires me with humor. I love writing Muse and Writer posts on social media. Though I’m going to get better at putting them on my website for curating them for readers. He’s become quite the popular fellow. I’ve been taking classes on my own time to learn to do Affinity so I can begin producing Muse and Writer books, calendars, cards, etc. due to reader requests. I wish I had more time in the day to already be there. But design work is complicated and too expensive to farm out at this point. Maybe as things progress.

I know Muse would approve. Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.

The most touching thing that happens repeatedly, and surprises me, are the messages I get from readers. Sometimes they’re about Muse and Writer, how that humor helps them through the day or how it helped their child through chemo. Sometimes it’s a reader telling me how one of my stories touched them. Either kind of message will still make me tear up because I’m so humbled by the fact that I somehow got to be part of their life journey. That’s so amazing to me.

Do you have an unfulfilled dream?

Yes, I do have several unfulfilled dreams. But one that keeps coming back is the desire to own and learn to play the harp. I don’t know how or when or how I’ll learn. But I truly want to learn to play the harp.

What ministries are you involved in, and why?

I’m a volunteer for the Jadyn Fred Foundation as their executive assistant. I manage their website, take photos at events, assist the executive director in whatever he needs. I do it to help love and care for Montana children.

I’m the president of the Christian Authors Network. It’s a volunteer position that helps our members learn to market their books to readers, retailers, and librarians. By doing this, I help to lead our organization into partnerships, connecting with readers, and spreading the Word of God through both fiction and non-fiction. We have an upcoming conference Nov. 13-16, 2019 with the International Christian Visual Media organization to help the book industry and the film industry begin to network more easily.

I’m on the board for a new conference called Write From a Bleeding Heart. I’ve been volunteering with this group for an upcoming conference June 25-28, 2019 to teach regular people and skilled writers how to share their testimonies and stories to help others heal. I will be speaking there, but the work prior is intended to be a gift to share Christ’s healing into the world.

My goodness, you’re a busy woman! What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?

I’m in school with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies right now to get my credentials for professional level genealogist. I’m two classes from my Methodology certification and 15 classes from English and Lecturer specialties. I really enjoy public speaking/presentation, too.

I also adore singing, reading, walking in the sunshine, watching movies, and studying screenwriting. My husband and I enjoy taking our RV to visit out of the way spots for a little decompression time when we can, but that’s not very often.

Fascinating! Please tell us about your next project.

I’m currently writing an historical romance called Right On Time for Barbour Books. It’ll be included in a set of four with Vickie McDonough, Margaret Brownley, and Susan Page Davis. I’m going to have fun exploring the issues with trains from crashes to robbers, a horseman who isn’t a cowboy, and a woman who has never met a gentleman she liked. I’ve just set up my plotting document, but have a TV pilot screenplay to finish in March before I get to dive in on this new book that’s due July 1, 2019.

That should keep you occupied! Thank you for taking time to visit with us today.

To learn more about Angela and her books, please visit Angela’s website and Angela’s blog.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

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14 Thoughts on “A Chat with Author – and CAN President! – Angela Breidenbach

  1. Vickie McDonough on March 14, 2019 at 10:44 AM said:

    Angie, I don’t know how you find the time to do so many worthwhile things. I loved what you said about God using our smallness. And great advice to non-writers. Thanks for all you do for CAN.

  2. Awesome, my friend!

  3. Melinda Smith on March 14, 2019 at 11:49 AM said:

    Thank you for this interview. You are such an inspiration to others. I’m so happy your writing dreams are coming true! We met years ago at an ACFW conference & visited. I count you as a friend indeed.

  4. Sarah, thank you so much for this inspiring interview of Angela Breidenbach. Wow! Angie, you serve as a president of CAN and do an outstanding job plus everything else you do. You’re a role model for us.

  5. Love the words about how hard writers work, coupled with great tips on ways to support them, as well as industry retailers. We don’t hear enough about this. Thanks for all your hard work!
    Blessings,

    Linore

    • Thank you, Linore. I feel there’s a huge gap in what people really know and understand about writers’ as professionals. There’s also a lot of misinformation and misperception out there. We have to address those erroneous assumptions and educate on what writers really experience. People just don’t know what they don’t know unless someone shares.

  6. Hi Angela,
    Wonderful to hear some personal stuff about you!

    I didn’t realize we are both screenwriters and singers!

    Praise God, I am close to a deal on one of my screenplays.

    I have five published novels by Winged Publications, which are on Amazon and will be joining very soon. (I was previously accepted by your staff.)

    Do you know any non-fiction publishers that I could submit my completed
    memoir “On Fire for God” to?

    • Hi Marlene,
      So good to hear from you 🙂 Congratulations on the hard work to have risen in your career with such great milestones 🙂 On non-fiction publishers, there are so many pieces of information I’d need to even start. But, for memoir I would personally start by going to conferences to speak directly to acquiring publishers. Most are not looking for memoir so submitting cold doesn’t often work well in this genre. Get a copy of the Christian Writers Market Guide and research those that publish memoirs. Research those that are listed on conferences as attending, teaching, speaking. They need to meet you, know your story, and see it as something very different and inspiring with mass appeal. Memoir is a hard sell unless the person is extremely famous or the story is extremely special. That doesn’t mean yours isn’t. It just means there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get a personal story sold in this industry. I believe you should do it anyway. Take a look at the library and bookstores in the memoir sections. Look for similar topical memoirs. Then see who those publishers are. Look for what makes each of those memoirs unique (besides the people are likely famous) and see how yours meets a universal need or tells an incredible story that inspires others to live differently or see their lives differently. There has to be massive take-a-way value for the reader and not just cathartic value to the writer. (Tip: That’s the biggest mistake, cathartic musing and circular storytelling, in most memoirs and why publishers don’t buy them.)

      I’ll tell you that I wrote my non-fiction book that has a small piece of my memoir. In order to sell it to a publisher, I was asked to find many other women with stories to tell. I did that. It did sell as Gems of Wisdom in 2011. Since, I’ve received my rights back and republished it as Gems of Wisdom: The Treasure of Experience. That book is a major part of my ministry. But, it only has a tiny bit of my true life story in very specific topics. It’s used as a women’s ministry tool and can create a lot of discussion in women’s groups about overcoming a difficult past to become the person God meant you to be.

      I have a lot more to tell one day. I’m not sure I’ll do it yet because the key for major publishers is that the person is massively famous or incredible like the movie Unbroken that comes out of a WWII heroic memoir. Would what I have to say change a life? I think so. Is one life changed enough? I think so. That leads me to believe that I should one day write and publish my personal story. Does it belong with a major publisher? I don’t know because I’m not massively famous to bring those publishers the hundreds of thousands of copies they want sold. And that answer means that I’d like to test the story with publishers. But if they don’t buy it, that doesn’t make my story less important for me to tell. I think about the verses where God is asked if He’d spare Sodom and Gomorrah if 100 men were holy, or 50, or 40, or 10? Each time God found that He would spare those towns for a smaller and smaller number. Would I publish my story if I could help 100 or 50 or 40 or 10? Wow, to change 10 people’s lives and help those people? Yes! So whether my memoir sold to a traditional publisher or not, I would consider how I might still reach those lives. Indie publishing is quite valid and a good business model IF the author does the work to make it so and learns what needs to happen for both a good book and for marketing that book. Just remember the story has to be about reader take-away value.

      Another tip I’d offer is to write it visually. Visual writing gives the story you have to tell a cinematic feeling. Leave out the minor daily incidents and focus on the major moment that changed your life. Build your story around that major moment using creative fiction techniques, even though it is non-fiction. It’s simply the presentation tool that works well for readers. That kind of memoir writing will capture the attention of the reader. It’s the idea of starting the story in the middle of the action. The inciting incident. And then give the reader the tools they need to conquer the obstacle you did. Corrie Ten Boom did that in helping readers learn to forgive. Read memoirs that inspire you and have sold to major publishers. Then take a look at yours to see if it shares the same elemental pieces before pitching it to publishers.

      I hope that’s helpful.
      Angie

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