Monday, October 11, 2010

To ACFW...and Beyond

Well, everyone. Welcome to a week of interviews on The Writers Alley - starting with Angie Dicken.

Oh Angie

SOOOOOO glad to have you as one of our new ShopKeepers at The Writers Alley. Who’d have thought that three weeks ago, after meeting in Indianapolis, we’d be cyberpals too. I love the way God works, don’t you?

Anyway, let’s get to know you a bit better, shall we?

1. Knowing you lived basically everywhere since you were a ‘military brat’ (your words, not mine ;-), where would you call home? If you could have chosen anywhere ELSE to live, where would you choose?

I really consider San Antonio, Texas my “hometown”, but the Dallas area is home since my parents and my in-laws live there. We really didn't live everywhere...but besides a few Texas towns, we lived in Virginia and Cambridge, England. My dad had the offer to move to Australia after his tour in England, but he declined because he wanted to get back to the States. I was in 6th grade, and my mom, sisters, and I were obsessed with an Australian soap, Neighbors, which starred Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. So I guess, I would have loved to live there for a while!

England!! You just said one of my favorite words!!! Do you remember much about it? Any cool culture-shock stories, or were you too small to remember?

I remember it really well! I'm actually friends with a bunch of my British friends on Facebook. I went to British schools for 3rd-6th grade and fell in love with the countryside, the history, and the village we lived in! It was an awesome experience, and really gave me the love I have for rich literature. My favorite memory is telling my English teacher that I was moving back to the States, and he was confused because he thought I was English! I can still put the accent on every once in a while! ;)

2. Okay, we both attended our FIRST ACFW conference at the same time, how was your first experience? Any news from the day you spent in Indy?

It was a huge eye-opener! Not necessarily all from a writing perspective, but from a personal perspective also. I graduated from college in 2000, and was confident, competitive, and ready to conquer the world! Stepping into the doors at the ACFW conference ten years later, I felt like a big floppy fish out of water! The professional scene had been non-existent since I became a full-time mommy 8 years ago! BUT...the most wonderful thing about the ACFW environment was the encouraging, friendly people (wink,wink)! It wasn't all about who could get the most offers, or tackle the most people to rub elbows with the big famous least I didn't see that! It was a giant network of fellow Christians who were passionate about writing, and also about new friendships! I was only there for a day, but by the end of it, I was ready to sign up for the full conference in St. Louis! God also worked in obvious ways that day. I was so insecure and unsure at the He promptly sent you and Patti Lacy to Starbucks and gave me wonderful women to help shake the nerves! And then an editor's opinion about my book, was a stepping stone for me in my only agent interview. She asked for three chapters! It may be the only bite I get, and I still haven't heard anything, but at least I walked away confident in my passion to WRITE!

Aww, Angie – I’d imagine with the beauty of that One-sheet, it won’t be the ONLY bite you get. Your story sounds FABULOUS!!! I’m pleasantly posting our cute picture with Audra Harders here, do you mind?

No, although my eyes are half shut! I was so excited to have people to talk with, I smiled extra big! :)

3. I guess the big question is…. What is your favorite type of dessert? You can always tell a person by the dessert they choose.

Oh my...CHOCOLATE! Really, is there any other kind of dessert?? I bleed chocolate! And I am a purist...just give me the nuts, no fanciness...As I get older-- the darker the better...must be a taste bud thing! ;) But as far as a “dessert” form of it goes, my fave lately has been a Mississippi Mud Pie at a local restaurant. Pure chocolate bliss!

Okay – I'm pretty sure we were separated at birth – except you’re younger, and cuter. So…maybe just a long lost sister. We have the same blood-type, it seems.

Ha! I wonder how much younger?? ;)

4. I already like you because you have a …er…growing family. Can you tell us a little about your boys, your hubby, and the new addition on the way?

Yes, ma'am! Cody is my husband of 10 ½ years...we were college sweethearts. He is my biggest supporter and is my grounding force-- I can get a little mountain-out-of-mole-hillish and he always brings me back down from my frenzy! He also has a way of tuning into my spiritual stuff and reminds me of God's will all the time! As for my boys...RAMBUNCTIOUS! They are full of life, full of questions, and full of energy! They are 8, 5, and 4 years old. I am definitely surrounded, and have endured many wrestling matches, sporting games as well as becoming a professional referee of this-is-mine and he-hit-me-first competitions! In all seriousness though, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am forever telling myself that I have been privileged to raise these young boys into great men of an even greater God. As for the little one on the way, SHE is already so very loved by us all! We recently found out it's a girl, and the boys are ecstatic to have a sister!

Anybody else want to just SQUEEEL right now!!! GIRL POWER!! And, you are a busy lady. Yet another reason I think you’re totally awesome. Just so you know. Don’t kids just give you the BEST ideas for stories?

Yes! boys' imaginations are so vivid, I sometimes consider writing their stories down. I absolutely love children's literature, something I really delved into in England. I have read Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis to my oldest. Oh how I wish I could come up with stories like they did!

5. Your one-sheet for ACFW was absolutely FABULOUS. What is that story about and how long have you been writing it?

Why thank you! I love graphics! Her Cotton Heart is women's fiction with a romance element. It is set in Northeast Texas (where generations of my husband's family lives), in the 1940's. Religion has convinced a cotton farmer's daughter that her heart is as black as the dirt in the cotton fields. Her heart forms a new shape when she falls in love with a boy from a forbidden church. She must overcome the fear instilled by her upbringing to reveal her true worth, and leave behind the cotton rows forever. It's a story spurred from my “first” novel written. which received the ultimate criticism after several reviews- REWRITE (I actually hope to write about that in my blog post next week). So, I started the story of the main characters in about 2005, and Her Cotton Heart came about this past April. I wrote it in about 5 months. I was so inspired by the criticism of my first novel, it just poured out of me!

What a way to take that criticism and have it fuel your writing engine! Can’t wait to see what happens with this story.

6. Have you always wanted to write or was it a dream that developed later in life?

I still find scribbled, unfinished stories, plots, and drawings of scenes from my stories, tucked away in my childhood boxes. I remember writing stories for the kids I babysat as a tween, and filling them in on the newest chapter each time. I have always loved writing! But writing to inspire others, really came about after college. I wrote a pitiful youth novel (inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia...but really, who can top that??), and then became inspired by the grandmothers in my life, which gave me the urge to write in the setting of WWII.

Okay, Angie – you just won my heart completely. Your grandmother’s inspired your stories TOO!! It’s getting curiouser and curiouser around here ;-) It’s so great to know you kept those stories. As unpolished as they may be, don’t they just encourage you a little bit to know you had this inkling to create imaginary places and people a long time ago?

Yes! I still have a story in my head of an imaginary I started as entertainment during babysitting hours, so maybe...just maybe, I can find an eloquent way to put it on paper? I wouldn't mind illustrating too...I love to draw!

She does it all, folks. Writes, draws, and has beautiful babies :-)

7. What other writing projects (if any) do you have in mind? Any ‘sneak’ peeks into your creative mind for us?

I have another novel written in first draft, Frangista, Farewell! It is set during World War II in Nazi-occupied Greece. Frangista was my grandmother's village until she was about twenty. The story is a coming of age romance. I hope to start working on a second draft soon. It's really a treasure to me since I am 100% Greek, and I have used several of my grandmother's stories to craft it.

Ooo, sounds wonderful. So, is the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding a good portrayal of Greek families? :)

The boisterous, superstitious, party-loving, lamb-loving part? Yes! The my way or the highway father? YES! The tackiness...not so much, at least with mine! :)

8. What is one of your favorite things about being a writer? Mother?

I am definitely ALL right-brained. Writing gives me the chance to create word pictures, but fill them with meaning to influence others. I also love that God can be glorified in fiction! As a mother, I am so privileged that God considered me as the best mother for my amazing boys. That gives me the strength and encouragement to start fresh each day, and lead them towards a God-honoring life.

9. You are very involved with MOPS. Do you ever think about writing some nonfiction for mothers?

Actually, I consider my blog: , a type of non-fiction for moms. I have considered sending articles for MomSense (their publication), but really have been so obsessed with novel writing, I haven't really pursued it.

10. Is there anything you might need to warn your Writers Alley pals about yourself? I mean, seriously, we are planning on a long-lasting friendship here, so all the food cravings, secret stashes, and bad habits probably need to come out right now. :-)

I second-guess myself ALOT! It's good sometimes, because I feel like I can take criticism and use it proactively...but it is probably annoying for my friends, when I can get overly apologetic at times! Besides that, I would say my obsession with chocolate...but I think you all are my soul mates when it comes to that! :)

Thanks so much for putting up with my fun, Angie. We are truly glad to have you as part of our team. Oh, and have fun in Hawaii.

Thank you! I will think of you all as I sit in my not-so-cute maternity bathing suit, ignoring the sand fights of my darling children!


Renee Ann said...

Fun interview, Pepper, and welcome, Angie! It's always encouraging to visit this site!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Hi Angie,

Fun to learn more about you. I enjoyed meeting you in Indy. When I was wee little I grew up in England and Germany too.

Can't wait to hear some good news about your novel soon.
~ Wendy

Ralene said...

Loved the interview, Pepper!

Welcome to Writers Alley, Angie! I was a military brat as well...and then I married a soldier. lol... I enjoyed getting to know a little about you and look forward to your future posts!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Angie, so fun to learn more about you! Your story ideas sound really unique--can't wait for a chance to read them in the future :)

I'm a HUGE fan of chocolate, too, so anytime you want to write about that, feel free! And congratulations on the news about having a girl. I have two and love them soooo much!

Krista Phillips said...

Welcome, welcome welcome! So fun to learn more about you!!! Congrats on your little girl... and WOOHOO for chocolate!!!

Casey said...

I LOVED this!! Angie, I am pretty insecure too. Unfortunately and it is coming out more and more. I don't mind being corrected, I hope I welcome it, but it is in those dark cold moments that I sit and think...can I really do this?

Your boys are a-dor-a-ble!! And your story sounds oh so intriguing, welcome to the Alley, it is exciting!!! :D

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great interview, girls! Two things that made me laugh (okay, there were more than two): You wanted to move to Australia because you were addicted to a soap opera, and not all Greeks are tacky. lol

I have yet to make it to the Eastern Hemisphere, so I'm jealous of your travels and heritage. :) Look forward to getting to know you more in the coming months/years!

Angie Dicken said...

Looking forward to getting to read all the interviews this week! I am so excited to be here and get to know such fabulous women!

Ralene- You're moving to Hawaii, right? We're going next week! Aloha!

Mary Vee Writer said...

You are a fun addition to our family.
I especially enjoyed reading how you turned rejection into inspiration. I usually stuff those in a drawer and sulk. Perhaps I should give some a fresh whirl.
Super congrats on the new coming princess.

Pepper said...

I had so much fun doing this interview with you and can't wait to get to know you better.
How blessed we are to have such a great group joining the Writers Alley.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Oh, I'm gonna like you! :) What a great interview and it is so cool to see your family inspiring stories. WAY COOL! Glad to have you onboard!

Julia M. Reffner said...

OK, I'm a bit late to the party, but great interview. You and I both graduated the same year and have both been married 10 years. I used to be a small group leader for my kids have "aged" I'm more involved in homeschooling group.

Your novels sounds fantastic!! I love WWII and I love reading stories when I know they are inspired by family.