Harlequin is delighted to welcome author Angela Ruth Strong to the Love Inspired team. Here Angela shares her story about getting The Call!
I entered two Harlequin Love Inspired contests before I won a contract. This wasn’t my first sale though. My debut novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, came out in 2010 with Summerside Press. I have experience submitting to other publishers, and I have to say that meeting and working with editors through both the Killer Voices and then the Blurb2Book contest was such a great opportunity. Nowhere else can you ask the editor questions and get feedback throughout the whole writing process.
I first considered writing for Love Inspired Suspense when three of my writing friends here in Boise, Idaho had their manuscripts picked up through previous contests. Lisa Phillips, Heather Woodhaven, and Becky Avella invited me to join Team Love on the Run. We released a collection of romantic suspense novellas together and even did a photo shoot with our books where I was the only one holding a book that wasn’t published through LIS. So I decided to do something about that.
With all their help, I made it to the final round of Killer Voices and had revisions requested, but my manuscript wasn’t picked up. I was pretty disappointed. However, I kept writing.
I came up with another idea based on our summers spent at a lakeside cabin that had been in the family for five generations. I thought, “What if a couple of kids had both spent their summers in family cabins, became childhood friends, fell in love, and were planning to marry after he returned from serving overseas in the military, but he never returned? He was presumed dead, though the truth was that he was framed for a failed op, and if he came out of hiding, either he’d go to jail or the real saboteur would kill him to keep him quiet. He stays in the old family cabin, trying to figure out what really happened so he can prove himself innocent. But then he sees someone plant a bomb at his childhood sweetheart’s cabin, and he must reveal his existence in order to save her life.” Having my heroine rescued by a dead man she’d once loved made for a great opening scene.
I had so much fun researching. I found out about SOAR—Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which was created after a failed op very similar to the one in my story. Then there’s the CID—Criminal Investigation Division of the military, which goes after Preston once they realize he’s alive. And I don’t think I could have picked a better setting than Lake Tahoe with an island for jumping off cliffs, a real secret tunnel in Thunderbird Lodge, and the Tahoe Keys, not to mention a helicopter ride for tourists that could come in really handy if you’re a pilot.
“I have to admit that at times I wanted to quit . . .”
The plot (and characters) had to change a lot from what I’d originally envisioned, and that’s where being in the Blurb2Book competition made all the difference. I have to admit that at times I was really frustrated and wanted to quit, but my writer friends and my agent kept encouraging me. I made it to the end of the contest again and got another revision request, which, to me, felt like a rejection since that’s what happened the year before. Editor Emily Rodmell wanted me to rewrite the ending, and I wasn’t sure how to change it, but my daughter-in-law gave me a great idea to pull the whole thing together.
Emily left me a voicemail while I was in kickboxing. I had to wait until she got out of a meeting until I could call her back, so I started texting Team Love on the Run like crazy, afraid to believe this was “the call.” But it was.
Presumed Dead comes out February 2017 from Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense. I’m still waiting to see what my cover looks like. No matter what it looks like or how well it sells, I’m very thankful for all I learned through this experience.
Most importantly, I learned the same lesson my characters learn in Presumed Dead from Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
I couldn’t have done this alone, and I hope that if you are discouraged, my story can help you up, as well.
Learn more about Angela at her website: www.angelaruthstrong.com
And say hello on Twitter @AngelaRStrong
or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557213161269220/
Would you love to get The Call from Harlequin? Check out our latest special submission calls here!