Angela Breidenbach is a speaker, an author, and a certified life coach. She also serves as an assisting minister in her home congregation and teaches online classes, as well as coaches one-on-one, on a variety of subjects, including writing, pageant competition, media presentation, and weight loss/physical fitness.

She currently holds the public relations director position for CAN (Christian Authors Network) and serves as president of the Montana ACFW chapter.

Angela is a wife, a mom, and a grandmother. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

Let’s talk about A Healing Heart (Abingdon Press, April 2013). Please tell us about it.

Mara Keegan is a workaholic who suffers a heart attack and must trust her business to the one man that almost destroyed it. During her recovery, she must make good on her promise to make a photo memory quilt for her daughter’s graduation. Will Joel Ryan’s photo be included on the quilt or is he a memory Mara wants forgotten?

Where did you get the idea for the story?

My agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, asked if I knew anything about quilts for a new line from Abingdon Press, Quilts of Love (link). Our family has a tradition of creating and giving photo memory quilts for high school graduation. But how to turn that into a story anyone would want to read?

One night, Denzel Washington’s movie, Déjà vu, about an agent who travels back in time to save a woman from murder, was on TV. That movie sparked a fun conversation between my husband and I. Would a person live differently if they faced their past? Memory quilts are photo moments frozen in time. And the conversation took off into how a woman might use those photos of her family life to change from being emotionally unavailable to the person God meant her to be. What would make her change?

I raced up to my office, wrote a story paragraph and idea page. Zipped that off to Tamela and A Healing Heart contracted off that page. All the great proposals, but the first fiction that sold was based on a conversation with my hubby and a one-page idea pitch. That still shocks my socks off!

Although you’ve previously been published in non-fiction, this is your debut fiction work. How long have you been writing fiction, and what sparked your interest in it?

I love writing in all its forms. I began seriously studying fiction in 2004. By 2005 I’d joined new writing organizations. But I had so much to learn about the craft, everything. Talent and creativity are nothing if a person doesn’t have the skill. I’ve lost track of the number of classes and craft books and conferences. If someone said I needed to learn format or deep POV, I found a class and tackled it. (Seriously, I’d never heard of POV before 2005! I could write great dialogue back then, but had no idea each person needed their own paragraph when they spoke. Oh I had so much to learn!)

The spark for fiction came early, early. My dad taught me to read using Dick and Jane and the Disney Big Red Storybook when I was four. From that moment, there weren’t enough books in the library. I devoured books, both fiction and non-fiction. I still do. Stories swirl in my head. I have seven more stories in various stages and files for an amazing amount of ideas I jot on as they come to me.

Detours in life can be frustrating—kind of like plot twists in the stories we write—but the outcome is often more intriguing than our original plan. Can you tell us about a recent “detour” in your life—or in one of your character’s lives—that taught you something?

I knew my contract for A Healing Heart was coming. But I spun out on ice and crashed into a mountain two days before the final contract arrived. That same week I’d been exposed to communicable pneumonia. I had some rough injuries (back, neck, shoulder) and wracking coughs on top of the crash results. That was over a year ago. I still have until May to expected full recovery.

I think it was both awful and amazing. I wrote the book, propped on pillows on my couch only able to write a few sentences at a time and sometimes I could only use one hand. I turned it in with two hours to spare to my deadline. But I understood Mara. I wrote her as a workaholic because I understood a driven personality. I am one. In recovery, I understood the dilemma and frustrations of forced recuperation while stressing over the responsibilities.

I don’t think God “did that to me,” but I do think God used the situation to help me understand people like me who might use the gifting of a driven personality and abuse it by becoming workaholics. I now make time for friends and family much more and speak on the fine line of living in our gifting without polluting the gift. The situation also helped me to recognize the beauty of accepting help and friendship. What do you know, Mara gets to experience that in A Healing Heart too ; )

Now a year after the crash, I’ve also learned important ways to help my coaching clients in fitness and weight loss after injury. That’s such a beautiful opportunity!

As a certified life coach and sought-after speaker, what’s your favorite topic to speak about—and can you, please, share a bit of insight about that topic?

A Healing Heart opened up some passionate topics for me. I discovered the fine line of living our God-given giftings and polluting/misusing them. While writing, I had to do a lot of self-examination on workaholism and friendship. I realized I personally struggled with those lines, blurring them too often.

When we begin to hear, “Are you always working?” or “How long since you’ve had a day off?” or “I haven’t seen you in so long.” Those are red flags that we’re getting off the planned path God means for us to travel. It’s easy to brush off small comments and questions. But I’ve learned to give people close to me permission to point out when I’m veering off course. Giving permission means that I promise NOT to respond in anger or irritation when someone I love loves me enough to point out I’m about to fall on my face. Everyone has a gifting that can be polluted and misused. Think of someone with great acting skills, charm, or athletic talent. I love to help people learn how to use their gifting as God intended, recognize the fine lines, and learn to build boundaries to live out the plan for their life. God gave us fellowship and friendship as helping partnerships in our faith, ministry, and work. No one is intended to walk the path alone.

A few fun questions…

What’s the name of the last GREAT book you’ve read?

I’m having a blast right now reading my sister authors in the Quilts of Love line. None of us knew anything about each other’s manuscripts. We shared our story paragraphs when our editor, Ramona Richards, connected us in a private loop. So I’ve made a point of getting each book in order and reading/reviewing them. So far I’ve finished: Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane, Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee, and I’m currently reading Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor (who, by the way, is one of my blog partners and we had no idea we’d both been chosen for the line until it was announced!) I did get to pre-read Bonnie Calhoun’s book, Pieces of the Heart, as her private editor. I loved that one too. : ) This line is perfect for me as I’m a very eclectic reader. I love a lot of genres from contemporary to historical to romance and there are even some great mysteries.

What’s your current favorite song on the radio or your mp3 player?

I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me. Here’s a link to the song (click here).

This song comes on and I connect immediately. I imagine being with Jesus. Would I be able to speak? Would I dance or be still? I don’t know. I sing and dance when I’m happy. (A secret camera in my kitchen would provide a lot of hilarity!) But would I be so awed that I’d freeze? It always makes me curious and full of a sense of worship when I think about actually standing in the presence of Jesus. I hope my writing reaches hearts like the writer of this song did mine.

What verse or story in the Bible best describes your faith journey?

Romans 8: 26-27. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

It might be a surprise I identify most with Paul in the New Testament. He’s a driven personality too. He realizes his time is short, regardless of how long that time is. His perception (like mine) sees there’s so much to do in such a short time. Especially because there are years wasted to make up for in our life purpose. I “get” Paul.

Thanks, Angie! It’s nice to have you back at DivineDetour.

Thank you, Kathy. I’m so appreciative to be here and share. If anything I’ve written touches or helps someone—that would be a huge blessing to me.

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For more information about Angela, visit her website.

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