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Once upon a time, a little girl dreamed of becoming a writer. Today, that same girl owns a bookshelf full of covers that proudly display her name. Her journey from dreamer to published author has not always been easy, but she credits her faith, her family and her educational experience at Freed-Hardeman University for guiding her to where she is today. 

Even as a child, Amy (McDoniel) Anguish was an avid reader. From “The Baby-Sitters Club” to “Little Women” and “Anne of Green Gables,” she read anything she could get her hands on. When she learned that her 8th grade teacher was a published author, she recognized, for the first time, that being a professional writer was something that was achievable. “It was amazing to realize that authors were real people,” she said. 

With supportive parents encouraging her writing aspirations, Anguish began to set goals for herself. She chose to major in English when she enrolled as a student at Freed-Hardeman University in the fall of 2000, and she cites professors such as Dr. Margaret Payne, Dr. Becky Cargile and Dr. John McLaughlin as strong influences for her over the next few years. 

“Freed-Hardeman gave me confidence. Building relationships and having professors that built me up – that made me brave enough to pursue anything like this,” she said of her time as a student.  

While taking a creative writing class her senior year, it was a guest speaker named Wilburta Arrowwood who first guided Anguish down the path of becoming a published author. As a writer herself, Arrowwood was visiting FHU Lectureships to market and sell her own books. In collaboration with Publishing Designs out of Huntsville, Alabama, she worked in the genre of “Christian fiction.” 

Hearing the real-life publishing journey of a fellow Christian inspired Anguish to begin networking for herself. Thanks to Arrowwood, she was soon invited into an email group with even more local writers who routinely edited, critiqued and encouraged each other’s work. She credits much of her later success to this group of women who she eventually began to call her “writing sisters.” 

After graduating from FHU, she quickly learned that these continued writer connections were vital, not only to her success, but also to her contentment in her chosen profession. As a self-described “people person,” Anguish strove to find like-minded individuals who shared her professional passions. She began taking part in conferences and writing retreats, all of which gave her deeper insight into the publishing business and helped her to strengthen her own skills. “They say that writing is a lonely occupation. That is not true unless you make it so,” she stated. 

In order to challenge her own productivity, she began to take part in a program called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The purpose of the challenge is for an aspiring author to write a full novel (or 50,000 words) in 30 days during the month of November. She began to train herself how and when to sit down and write – fast – on a regular basis. This skill became increasingly challenging, but necessary, when family life and motherhood began to take precedence over the next few years. Many of her NaNoWriMo projects eventually became her published books.

Her chosen genre of writing – Christian romantic fiction – came fairly naturally to her. “I choose romance because I love happy endings,” she said. “I love picking up a book and knowing that it’s all going to end up ok. Christian fiction is intrinsic. I tried before to write a clean romance with no religion in it, but my faith is such a part of me that I can’t write without working it into the characters’ lives.”

Thanks to her writing connections, she was able to form relationships with a few different publishing houses through the years, including Tulpen Publishing, Mantle Rock Publishing, Anaiah Press and Scrivenings Press, all companies that were supportive of Christian fiction authors. Her first novel was published in 2011, and she released a dozen more in subsequent years. Book number 14, titled “For Better or for Granted,” is expected to arrive in March of this year. 

Today she lives in Smyrna, Tennessee, with her husband, Jeremy (FHU ’03), and her two children, Chloe and Alex. As she strives to balance her marriage, her family and her numerous writing projects, she still makes sure to keep her faith a priority in her life. 

“My goal with my writing is to glorify God,” Anguish says. “I want my characters to be Christians living real lives with real struggles that encourage them to grow closer to God. I pull struggles from my own life in order to create realistic conflict for my characters.”

Her choices may look a bit different than those of many mainstream authors, but Anguish is proud of the personal and professional legacy that she is creating. “I still have moments when I have to fight with myself about what success means; the world tells us that success is one thing, but I know different.”

All of Anguish’s novels are available for purchase online through Amazon.com and through select booksellers. Find out more about Amy and her writing journey by visiting facebook.com/amyanguishauthor or amyranguish.com