Dear Readers, today we're featuring a children's book that really sounds interesting. I know you'll love meeting and learning about the author.
Welcome, Angela. What has drawn you to writing for children?
I studied journalism and planned to work for a magazine but ended up starting my family earlier than expected and becoming a full-time mom. This meant lots of time in the library for story time and lots of inspiration to write stories of my own.
I mean, when taking my kids to a Tumble Time birthday party and seeing an ad for “senior discounts,” I had to write a rhyming manuscript titled Gymnastics Grandma. And when my daughter used the moves of a quarterback (think rubber ducky under her arm like a football) to avoid getting dressed after a bath, I had to write Naked Baby on the Run. And when my son fell asleep holding onto the dollar bill he made from dumping a cup of water on me at a church picnic, I had to write The Water Fight Professional.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I once won a television and Xbox in a hamster ball race. Yes, I was the one running in a giant ball. Though is that quirkier than that time I rode on the shoulders of a unicyclist? I’m not sure.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In fourth grade, we had to write tall tales. The kids in my carpool read it aloud on the way home and got the whole car laughing. So I pretended to lose it and have to write another one the next day. And the next day.
My mom was also a writer, so I grew up reading stories of myself in magazines like Women’s World. In high school, I wrote a story and figured I’d send it to a magazine like Mom did. Easiest $100 I ever made. I was hooked. Though it hasn’t always been that easy. Ahem … it wasn’t ever that easy again.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I like stories that are both light-hearted and thought-provoking. Usually contemporary. Kids’ books and romantic comedies are my favorites.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My debut novel was part of the Love Finds You series. Mine was Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho. Awesome experience to be involved with such a fun line. Might be the only Costco book-signing I ever do.
My short story The Water Fight Professional got picked up by the New York school board and printed in over half a million tests, so I decided to make it into a middle-grade novel. That book released last July followed by The Snowball Fight Professional this winter. Up next are The Food Fight Professional and The Pillow Fight Professional.
Then I wrote a book called Lighten Up about a pastor’s daughter who couldn’t forgive her father for running off with the church secretary until she fell in love with her own pastor. That came out with a small press. I’d hoped to make it a series and actually wrote the second book, but that project is on hold for now.
My agent is currently shopping Romancing the Throne about an American woman who grows up in the
West Indies and meets a prince on vacation. They plan to
marry until he hires a private investigator to dig up her past and discovers
her father to be a fugitive from the United States. To prove her father
innocent and regain her position as future royalty, Jacqueline James hires the
same PI to go back to Miami
with her, never expecting to develop stronger feelings for her knight in
shining armor than she has for Prince Charming. Somebody buy this book!!! It’s
so fun I want to share it with the world.
I also made it to the final round of the Harlequin “Killer Voices” contest last year with Presumed Dead about the daughter of the Peruvian President whose plane crashed in the Amazon and nobody knows she actually made it to
America except for a missionary who
recognizes her in a homeless shelter … and the men who want to kill her. The
editors said my manuscript didn’t have the right tone for their line, so I’m
reworking it to make it longer before I submit to other publishers. And I’m
working on Twice Removed to submit to
Harlequin next. Hopefully I learned a little something through the first book
and won’t get twice rejected.
And last (thank you for making it this far), I have a novella coming out as part of a boxed set with a couple of my Love Inspired author friends next month. False Security is about a former cop who teams up with the man she’d once arrested to prove themselves innocent of an unsolved crime and regain the lives they’d lost. They fall in love, of course, but since they don’t trust each other, she ends up pulling a gun on him and stuff. Tee-hee.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I kind of have to divide my life up into moments where I think, moments where I feel, and moments where I simply focus on getting the job done. Otherwise I’m an over-thinking, overemotional slacker.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of, besides family?
And besides winning the hamster ball race? Just kidding. My first instinct is to say it’s winning Idaho Top Author for two years in a row now, but really those awards mean nothing compared to the individual letters I get from readers. Awards are nice, but I do this to touch lives. To be able to do that is a huge honor.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d be a dolphin, which is funny since I didn’t take swimming lessons until college and I have a snorkel phobia. But there’s never been any other answer for this question.
What is your favorite food?
Homemade bread. Take me out to a steak restaurant and I will fill up on the bread before dinner even arrives. Mmm … I can almost smell the sweet yeast and buttery crust baking right now.
Is it hard to break into the children’s market?
Yep. “You must write for children in the same way as you do for adults, only better." --Maxim Gorky
What advice would you give to an author wanting to do that?
Join Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Read children’s book—especially in the genre you want to write. Try selling some short stories to magazines first. Attend conferences to meet editors and agents and learn more about the art and the business. Enter contests. And do it because you love it.
The most common question I get asked is about picture books. They are the hardest sell because they are the most expensive to print. You don’t have to have an illustrator, but you do have to understand that your story will be laid out over 32 pages and how your words will flow with the illustrations. Usually keep the manuscript under 1,000 words. In the Christian market, most picture books are written by authors who are successful in other genres first.
Also, DON’T preach. Unless you are writing Sunday school material.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
The Food Fight Professional is book #3 in my Fun 4 Hire series for ages 8-12. They don’t have to be read in order, but hopefully reading one will make you want to read them all. And I do mean you—not just your kids. They make a great read-aloud for families. The book releases Pi Day, which is significant to the story (as often schools serve actual pie on this day, which makes for an even bigger food fight). Pi Day is based on the symbol in math that starts out 3.1415, so it is always celebrated on 3/14, but even cooler, this year it will be 3/14/15.
The Food Fight Professional is dear to my heart because I included a couple of adopted brothers from my Sunday school class. Their mom calls them “The Haitian Sensations,” and they are truly sensational. Putting them in this book adds tension since the boys come from a background where food is scarce. It made me think, anyway.
How can readers find you on the Internet?I would love for readers to stop by my website to say hi or maybe even tell me their story since I love stories so much. It’s www.angelaruthstrong.com.
Thank you, Angela for sharing this new book with us and giving us a peek into your life.
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