Today I am honored to be hosting the wonderful Angela R Watts with a guest post!
Every story worth writing teaches the writer something. Maybe the story scares us, maybe it makes us bold, maybe it gives us a new perspective, maybe it surprised us in ways we never plotted. In the end, I’m a firm believer a story should scare the author. Maybe that fear is tackling a large novel, or the main character faces a fear the author has, or maybe some other fear. But it should be a challenge for the author, whatever the challenge is, because that makes each story worth it.
The Divided Nation scared me in many ways. I’d roleplayed some version of the story for a couple years but in the end, the story was left alone, though it didn’t leave me alone. I tried hard to ignore it. I knew it’d be a long series. Dystopian frightened me to write, since there was so much research to do, so much that could be silly or done “wrong”. I wasn’t old enough to take on such a project, I’d wait till I was older, a better writer.
Ha. Ha. Ha. God didn’t let the story drop. He made me face my fear. As time went on, I noticed many authors shooting down the argument of “wait to write the best story when you’re older”. They insisted you do your best NOW.
So I took that to my heart and prayed a while. I had a series going already, did God really want me to take on two series at once? While I pondered the answer, I sat down during the winter of 2018 and decided I was going to write a short story to publish. I wrote… and it hit me, as I listened to For King & Country’s Christmas album, what my story would be about. So I wrote it in a day and Emmanuel was born. No, literally. My short story prequel, Emmanuel, set me on the journey of The Infidel Books. Basically, God told me yes. He did want me to continue two series at once.
Emmanuel was adored by my readers. I could hardly believe it! I quickly decided I’d need the first book of The Infidel Books published within 6 months. That… didn’t happen. It’s been 8 months since, but The Divided Nation was a wild ride during that time. I didn’t start the first draft in January, I started in February, but I wrote the first draft in a month. It was rough. Tangled. I knew most would be trashed or saved for a later book. But I wrote draft two and realized just how far God had taken me! I’d faced so many fears during those drafts. I hurt with my characters, found joy with them, and learned knew things about God.
What did I learn about God? I learned that every person has their own conviction. Every decision should be brought to God. Every person should be steadfast in their own personal convictions because you cannot please everyone and no one else should change your mind without God’s intervention. I learned, while writing, that it is truly OK to feel the emotions God gave you, as long as you reach out to Him and keep going. Keep healing. Keep loving.
I learned many things during the “latter half” of the publishing journey. I learned grace during my beta team’s read through. I learned how fun it was to brainstorm with betas. I learned how there was, in fact, an audience for this genre! I was pretty convinced no one liked dystopian but I was incorrect (I was reminded of this during my trip to Realm Makers in 2019. So many dysto readers/writers!). I learned, also, how amazing new friends are, too. God blessed me with new friends during 2019 as I got The Divided Nation ready to publish and launch. For years, my friends have been steady, pretty much unchanging, but 2019 has been full of new author friends. It’s been precious.
I kept learning during ARC time, y’all! I had an ARC reader not read the book after I gave the content guide, telling me my novel wasn’t Christ honoring simply for some content. Now, before you guys flee, let me remind you that The Divided Nation is PG13. It is not R. It is not overtly graphic content. It is, however, a war novel! But I learned grace as I found how many friends and Christians refused to give it a chance. It baffled me. Does the Bible not speak of bloody battles? Of horrid circumstances? Of broken people? But does God not shine through every book in the Bible? His hope, love, and holiness is present. THAT is the kind of book I wanted to write. I didn’t want this novel to be “clean” and “comfortable”. The Bible sure isn’t. As I watched people’s reactions, I turned to God more and more, reminding myself HE had guided my writing and I couldn’t please everyone. I could only be true to Him and this story.
In the end, this series continues to frighten me. It continues to teach me about life, about writing, about God. The ride is far from over. But I welcome you to join it with me. I hope The Divided Nation touches you as much as it did me.
THE DIVIDED NATION
The Infidel Books, #1
WHEN THE NATION DIVIDES, THE INFIDELS MUST RISE.
The United States has fallen. Three years after the 2024 presidential election and the declaration of martial law, the nation is at war against itself. Gangs battle, civilians struggle for survival, and officials of the United Nations thrive. West Johnston, heir to the most powerful ganglord in the country, refuses to continue the family legacy. But, in order to defeat his father, he must become him: bloodthirsty and willing to do whatever it takes for control.
West gains control by helping fellow gangsters, Nate and Simon, when they form an alliance with one of the last remaining townships in America. After years of surviving and winter fast approaching, Springtown is in desperate need of supplies from the two teenagers. When the town leader’s daughter, Rene’, is kidnapped by an unknown rival, Nate and Simon risk their reputations to save her and the town they now love. But without help from West, their rescue mission will fail.
Told in multiple bold, abrasive narratives, THE DIVIDED NATION steps into a future where brotherhood bonds must be stronger than iron to survive a broken world, and faith without courage is dust in the wind.
Amazon: (link to come)
Angela R. Watts is a Christian fiction author who strives to glorify the Lord in all she does. She’s a homeschooled highschooler living at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she tends to travel. She’s been writing stories since she was little, but also enjoys chores, painting, and watching sunsets.
US shipping only. If an international winner is drawn, they will receive an ebook only.
1st place: hardback copy of The Divided Nation. A custom mug with a quote from the book, bookmark, and an exclusive snippet from The Infidel Books.
2nd place: paperback copy of The Divided Nation, bookmark.
3rd place: ebook copy of The Divided Nation.
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