Meet Debut Novelist Angi Morgan

Angi Morgan is an 11th generation Texan who utilizes her strong heritage to create passionate characters willing to risk everything for the one they love. Her debut novel, Hill Country Hold Up, which was a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Category Series Romantic Mystery/Suspense winner, will be released by Harlequin Intrigue in September 2010.

Angi volunteered at her children’s schools and in the community for twenty years. When her youngest daughter was born with a rare skin disorder, Angi was given the opportunity to stay home with her three kids. With their children now grown and out of the house, Angi and her husband live in North Texas with only the four-legged “kids” to interrupt her writing. When the house is quiet, she plots ways to intrigue her readers with complex story lines. She throws her characters into situations they’ll never overcome . . . until they find the one person who can help.

Angi and her husband enjoy traveling throughout the country. Even though she’s an Empty Nester now, Angi still volunteers, helping run a girls’ fast pitch softball organization. She enjoys camping with her husband, working jigsaw puzzles, and watching classic movies, many in black and white.

Join me as we learn more about Angi and her journey to publication.

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Let’s Start with Dessert

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•And what’s on the menu? Cyber chocolate chip cookies and glasses of cold milk to dip them in. Help yourself.

I chose this treat because my guest is a Food Network addict for whom chocolate chip cookies play a special role. Angi, please tell us why this is, after you grab a cookie or two, of course.

At my daughter’s former high school, my chocolate chip cookies are auctioned each year (yes, I still have to supply cookies). Last year 1-½ doz sold for $40. Some of the kids even created a FaceBook Fan page. They’ve taken pictures of me cooking, tried to duplicate the recipe (it’s my very own), but I’m told no one bakes them just like me. “It’s the love that goes into them…or the oven.” I cooked them almost every week during marching band season (our small band ate at the school with parents supplying dinner before they left for the game). By my daughter’s senior year, I was making extras for the additional staff and students who showed up for dessert.

When I’m sick, the only station I watch is the Food Network. And I love cooking for other people. I love big gatherings of friends at the house or the lake. Creating recipes and having someone say the food tastes great—it’s very satisfying. Almost as good as having someone say they love my book…almost.

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Angi’s Journey Begins

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•Your writing journey began because of a generous gift followed by a tremendous loss. Please share how these two events led you to pursue your dream of being a published novelist.

I’ve always been writing. Short stories, poetry, ideas, even instruction procedures for volunteer organizations. One day my dad asked why I couldn’t finish a book. I replied that starting over each time I needed to revise was just too much work on the typewriter. That Christmas, my mom and dad bought each family (I have a brother and sister) a computer, printer, and sound card (those were an additional feature back in the 90’s). I had no excuses any longer. So I began to write.

I had always planned to return to work when my youngest went into first grade. But my father became ill and died within the year. He was 61 years old and had just begun to enjoy his life. One night on our drive home after visiting him, my husband said, “Writing is who you are. You need to follow your dream now. Not wait.”

I did. The following year, I joined RWA and my local chapter. I joined an on-line critique group and learned how to write. I still volunteered. Still held down the fort when my husband traveled. Still put my family first. But I learned the ropes about the creative process and the business of writing. Now that the “baby” is in college, I concentrate on my writing just a little more.

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Angi’s Milestones

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•You’ve racked up several wins and placements in RWA® chapter-sponsored contests. Which of your wins stand out, and why?

The Daphne du Maurier sponsored by the Kiss of Death was an elusive contest to me. No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t final.

But 2009 was *my* year. That was my mantra. I was determined to sell. I had already won the Great Expectations Contest, but in March I looked at the Daphne editor and agent…my top picks were judging the final round. It couldn’t be coincidence. It had to be fate. I finaled. I won. I signed with my agent. I sold the book.

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•Early in your writing journey, you finaled in the Golden Heart. The year was 2004, and the category Romantic Suspense. I’m sure you can still remember the thrill of getting the call from an RWA board member telling you the BIG news. How did you react, and what did that final mean to you?

Well, actually, I thought it was a joke. You see, I had served on the National RWA Board and when my friend Gayle Wilson called, I thought she was trying to cheer me up. Hill Country Hold Up (under a different title) had just been rejected by Harlequin a few days earlier. I was ecstatic to be a finalist. I loved every minute of the “extras” at National that year in Dallas. Seeing your name in front of your peers is an honor that lasts forever.

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•You’ve experienced the excitement of having one of your short stories published in an anthology. Please tell us how this came about and what you learned about the publishing world because of this sale.

“Shotgun Seduction” appears in Love Texas Style. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of North Texas RWA, the chapter sponsored a contest. Twelve short romance stories were chosen by the Editor and Chief of The Wild Rose Press. This short story is actually the hardest thing I’ve ever written. It’s only 6,000 words. The characters had to meet, have a relationship, and fall in love in twenty-five pages. Very difficult.

Even in twenty-five pages, there was a section of the story I needed to re-write. Completely. Amazing what the insight of someone who looks at your work from the professional (instead of friendly) side sees in your writing.

It’s awesome to hold the book in your hand. Seeing your name on the cover. Finally having something your mother can brag about. >>Big Grin<<

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•Having had a taste of publication, I’m sure you were eager for The Call. It came! On November 12, 2009, the phone rang. Please tell us about the momentous occasion and whether you screamed, cried, or danced around the house scaring your four-legged friends out of their wits.

My kids have left the house. My husband travels. So I was home alone with my two dogs and on the phone with a writer friend. We were debating about actually selling and making a bit of money at writing—so we could pay a little more college tuition. She had to go and said she’d call back.

The phone rang and I noticed it was my agent. I told myself, “This is it. See Jane Run either sold or it didn’t.” I was still stunned when she told me Harlequin wanted to buy it. Stunned into silence. My agent had to verify I was still on the phone and if I was excited. I just couldn’t believe that it had finally happened. My agent said, “Are you ready for more good news?” (What can be better than selling, right?) But it was better. Harlequin had scheduled me for a September 2010 release…just ten months after my call.

A couple of hours later, my editor called. We talked for more than half an hour…about everything. Even my daughter in college and the four grandkids.

You always imagine how you’ll react. Stunned into silence was never on my list and very difficult for my friends to picture.

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•I know you don’t have your book yet—or even the cover—but surely you think about what it will be like to hold your debut novel in your hands. What do you envision?

When I first began attending workshops, an author asked how we saw our books. I didn’t give it much thought. I’d always visualized my book on the shelf. I always went to the bookstore and looked at the books I’d be alphabetized between.

When I printed copies of my books, the pages went into a binder with a picture on the cover, a dedication, a title page. It looked like a real book. It felt like a real book.

When I won the Daphne this past July, I opened up the first place bookmark and knew it would be framed in my office just above the first book I held in my hands. I don’t have long to wait until that vision becomes a reality. I’m already looking for the right frame.

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•I love hearing that you look to see which authors’ books yours will come between on the shelves because I do the same thing. For me, it serves as motivation to keep writing. You’ve waited years for your First Sale, and I hope you enjoy every aspect of it. What are some lessons you’ve learned en route to publication?

I’ve been close to selling for too many years to count. (I don’t want to count them.) It can get discouraging. And sometimes you need to focus on other aspects of your life until you can get back to writing. I know that if I had sold in 2004, I wouldn’t have had the focus to advance my career with Harlequin. There were things I needed to do for others that blessed my life and ultimately gave me more writing material.

Everything happens for a reason and at the right time. I am free to write now. Free enough to make writing a priority.

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Partners on Angi’s Journey

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•Every writer I’ve talked with is eager to tell me that although she may be alone much of her day, she has a cast of real life characters who support her in many ways. Who are the people on your team, and how do they uphold you?

I’ve been blessed with two great local chapters: North Texas RWA & Dallas Area Romance Authors. The amount of advice, support, and encouragement I’ve received from my fellow authors—not only locally, but across the world—has contributed to me becoming a better writer and person. The writing friendships I have are amazing. And those close to me know I can’t make it without my critique partners. >>waving to them all<<

But I couldn’t have continued this journey without the support of my family. Not at any time have they doubted I’d be published. There were plenty of times they couldn’t understand why an editor would reject my manuscript, but they kept on supporting me. I’ve only had one person in my immediate circle of friends who said, “Oh you’re one of those writers.” He only said it once and I educated him very very quickly. >>big grin<<

Life isn’t always easy as a one-income family. I stayed home to raise my children, to make their lives more full of events centered around family, church, Scouting, sports, band, school activities, and friends. But I was also working, honing my writing craft. After the last high school graduation, I was finally able to concentrate on my career of choice: writing.

I would not be a full-time writer (well, almost full-time) if it weren’t for my husband’s long ago decision that I needed to follow my dream. I love him very much. He has his moments.

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Angi’s Best Tips for Writers

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~ Find your support system. If it’s a critique group, writer’s group, a best friend…find that someone who is going to encourage you to continue to write. Especially when you receive a rejection.

~ Write every day. You hear it over and over again, but you have to develop this habit.

~ Reward yourself. Reward yourself and your family for meeting goals. For completing a book. For selling. Hey—for even getting a new title. Remind yourself that writing is fun.

~ Write the dang book. (Everyone who knows me, KNOWS that’s not the real word I use.) Writers hear this mantra all the time. Just write the book. You can’t edit what’s not written. You can’t polish what’s not written. You can’t sell what’s not written. So just write the book.

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Angi’s Debut Novel

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•Please tell us about Hill Country Hold Up.

A mother’s worst nightmare. When research chemist Jane Palmer’s son is kidnapped, she races the clock to meet every demand made to save his life—even when it means committing a crime in the process. But how can she make the FBI believe her story when all the facts point to her son having died months before? Trapped by the authorities, to save her son she must win one man’s faith—the man she left years before, the man who doesn’t know he’s her son’s father.

A man forced to choose. Despite the evidence, FBI agent Steve Woods refuses to believe his former love is guilty. He vows to help her, even if it means turning his back on his career. His leap of faith reignites a passion they both feared lost. But Steve’s trust is shattered when he learns Jane hid his son from him.

A missing child. A desperate mother. A man who will sacrifice himself to save both.

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Angi’s Journey Continues

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•You’ve sold your first book. What are you working on now?

Currently working on my next Harlequin Intrigue proposal. Bad Boy Uncovered (working title) is a story set in Dallas. Lots of complications for the hero and heroine. Another fast-paced action-filled love story.

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Five Fun Facts About Angi

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~ In high school, I already knew how to type, so in typing class (mandatory) teachers would bring their tests to me and I’d type them. No one ever asked me for the answers.

~ I was a Boy Scout Leader Trainer—training leaders how to teach camping skills.

~ I have volunteered as a girls fast pitch coach for twenty years…but I never played. Co-ed slow pitch, yes, but they didn’t have girls softball when I was in high school.

~ No one in my family will play Scrabble with me.

~ I write each manuscript to basically one song. My current Intrigue is being written to Linus & Lucy’s theme by the Vince Guarlaldi Trio.

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Five Quotations That Are Special to Angi

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~ “Creativity is not a luxury; it’s crucial to your well being.” ~ Cathy Spangler

~ “I came. I saw. I ran.” ~ Scooby Doo

~ “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” ~ John Lennon

~ “Do or do not. There is no try.” ~ Yoda

~ “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.” ~ Yogi Berra

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Angi’s Question for You

•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Angi. You gave great answers to my questions. Now it’s time to see what your guests have to say, so go for it.

As a reader, what are you looking for on an author’s website and what do you want during a book launch?

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Learn More About Angi

Visit her website ~ www.AngiMorgan.com

Join her Facebook fan page ~ AngiMorgan

Follow her on Twitter ~ AngiMorganAuthr

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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29 Responses to Meet Debut Novelist Angi Morgan

  1. On an author’s website I want to see the author’s bio, with some personal information and a photograph. If I can’t see the person, I’m disappointed. Also want to see their list of books and covers, with brief descriptions and a link to an excerpt.

    A guest book is nice, but not as important as the bio and photo for me.

    And I always love a link to a blog. I will read blogs over website info. I like to read about the author’s interests and activities and see pictures of their kids and family. Maybe I’m just crazy like that. 🙂

  2. Angi Morgan says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    I’m feeling more comfortable about my website. I still have things to add…

    But speaking about blogs…do you visit your favorites every day or once a week? What’s the norm? I’m guest blogging several places in the next months and I wasn’t going to concentrate on setting one up (attached to my website). But do you think that’s important?

    ~~Angi

  3. Angi Morgan says:

    Cristi and Clover !! Nice to see you. Keli pointed me to your posts. Glad I saw them.

    Cristi –it’s great having you supporting me (I’m not going to say how many years). And Clover, new friends are hard to come by. You’ll have to come by the house for those cookies. I’m actually making a batch today for the hubby’s Valentine’s present.

    ~~Angi

  4. Angi Morgan says:

    Keli, I’ve had a blast sharing with everyone this week. Thank you so much for having me here. Your interview process is wonderful and made me dig for answers. Now I just need to dig as deep for character answers. Best of luck and I hope you’ll have me back again.

    ~~Angi
    Hill Country Hold Up
    Harlequin Intrigue Sept 2010

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