The Amen Sisters

Genesis House Boxed Set (3 Books in 1)

Awakening Mercy
CeCe Williams and Nate Richardson were not looking to fall in love. After being deserted by her son’s father, CeCe was content making a life for herself and her four-year-old son. Nate, recovering from a recent divorce, devoted his energies to his job as director of Genesis House. Neither is prepared for what grows between them when CeCe comes to work at Genesis House.

Abiding Hope
Marvin and Shay Taylor lost themselves and their ministry after the death of their six-year-old son. Time and God’s grace brought them back to a place of renewal. As they step back into their ministry, Shay also wants to step back into motherhood. But Marvin’s fears make him reluctant to share her dream.

The Amen Sisters
Would you believe a friend who told you she was pregnant with your pastor’s child? Francine Amen doesn’t and it leads to drastic consequences for both her and her friend. The Amen Sisters is a compassionate look at the lives that are forever changed when a pastor abuses his power with the women of his congregation.

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I was on NPR-Radio

Good news! Sandi Mallory, host of Morning Journey on NPR (WEAA-AM Baltimore), interviewed me yesterday morning. She had read the The Amen Sisters and contacted my publicist at Grand Central Publishing.  I enjoyed it, but I have a habit that I have to lose. I finish most my statements with, “if you know what I mean.” YIKES!  I must get ready for prime time.

The Amen Sisters – Idea to Book

Readers often ask what inspired me to write The Amen Sisters and where the idea for the book originated.  The Amen Sisters has a long and, I hope, interesting history.  The idea for this book came to me around 1990, about the time that I was able to start talking about an abusive church situation I had experienced a few years earlier.  I had a story I wanted to tell, but I had no idea I’d tell it in a novel.  I wasn’t even a published author at the time!

Sometime in 1998, I think, after publishing seven romance novels, I signed a contract to do a three-book, Christian romance series with Tyndale House Publishers.  The first book in what became The Genesis House series was Awakening Mercy, my first Christian romance, which was published in 2000.  The second was Abiding Hope, published in 2001.  The third, Enduring Love, has never been published.  Enduring Love was the first incarnation of The Amen Sisters.

Awakening Mercy coverTyndale loved Awakening Mercy and thought I had perfectly hit the tone they wanted in a Christian romance novel, so I had very few revisions.  Their response to Abiding Hope was not as positive.  They sent it back to me with the recommendation that I make it more romance-y, more like Awakening Mercy.  That’s when I began to wonder whether I had another Christian romance in me.  Thankfully, I was able to revise Abiding Hope enough to make it the Christian romance that my publisher and readers expected. When I turned in Enduring Love a year later, my publisher and I knew we were at the end of our road together.  The book had a romantic element but it was definitely not a romance along the lines of Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope.

Since Tyndale didn’t think they could successfully market me as a Christian women’s fiction author at that point in my career and since I was pretty sure I didn’t have another Christian romance in me, we parted ways.  Since they’d already paid me half of the advance for the book, I had to repay it.  The good news is that my contract gave me six months to do so.

So here I was with a book that my publisher didn’t want and that really wasn’t ready for women’s fiction land. The good news is that the publisher at Walk Worthy Press was interested in having me do women’s fiction for her new publishing venture with Warner Books.  Seemed like at perfect match!

Almost.  When I went to contract with Walk Worthy, I had this finished book, Enduring Love, which not quite a romance and not quite women’s fiction, on my hands.  I decided my best option was to try to make it a “big” romance and sell it to a romance publisher.  Well, even though I wasn’t contracted to do romance for Walk Worthy, there was a clause in my contract that gave them the right to see the romance before I shopped it to another publisher.

Guess what?  Walk Worthy wanted to publish the story as women’s fiction.  Good news, right? Well, sorta. Though my new publisher and I talked about what a women’s fiction version of Enduring Love would look like, it became apparent after about a year of revisions that we were miles apart in our visions for the book.  At the end of my rope and exhausted of all hope, I made a fateful call to my new publisher, fully prepared to terminate the contract and, once again, pay back an advance. Imagine my surprise when my publisher said, “Write your book, Angela,” or some words to that effect.

Those words freed me up and seven months later, I turned in The Amen Sisters.  That wasn’t my original title though. I can’t even remember if I had a title, since Enduring Love had long since fallen by the wayside.  The Amen Sisters, as a title, was my publisher’s idea.  All I had to do was change the last name of my main characters from Thompson to Amen and a book title was born.

So that’s the story of The Amen Sisters.  You never would have guessed, would you?

For those of you who are wondering, I do still have a few romances left in me.  I realized over time that what I needed in my writing was balance.  In case you didn’t know it, most romance writers are married women.  As a single woman, I found it difficult to continually turn out stories of women who ended up happily ever after with the mate God had chosen especially for them.  I needed to also tell stories of godly women whose lives were not headed towards holy matrimony.  In other words, I needed to write stories about women like myself.

That’s it for now.  Enjoy your weekend and be blessed!

Countdown to The Amen Sisters!

Good news!  The official release date for the trade paperback edition of The Amen Sisters is November 19th, but it is on sale at today. 

In preparation for the November 19th date, I’ve been doing a bit of updating to the web site.  There are a couple of features that I want you to see. 

You have to take a look at The Amen Diaries.  This is a very special page where I share some of the notes you and others sent to me, or posted on the blog, after reading The Amen Sisters.  My heart gets full everytime I read those notes. I’m overwhelmed at how God used something as simple as a book, this book, to touch so many lives in so many different ways.  So please view The Amen Diaries and be blessed. 

I have been fortunate to connect with some great publicty people and they’ve created a wonderful e-blast for The Amen Sisters.  You have to take a look at it HERE.  Do you think it’s gorgeous?  I loved the graphic so much that I’ve asked them to re-design my blog/website using those colors.

I have a lot more planned for November and December.  Here’s a partial list:

Book giveaway/contest, including a seat in my online writing seminar, starting November 19th

December Blog Tour

Ad and review in January issue Romantic Times Magazine, on stands in December

Stop by frequently during November and December so you don’t miss out on the fun!  You could be the next big winner!

Writing “The Amen Sisters”

A while back when we were talking about What makes IT Christian? I promised to write a post about the writing of The Amen Sisters. Well, this is that post!

Because of the subject matter of the book, I was determined not to sensationalize it. That meant The Amen Sisters was not going to be about the acts of a pastor gone wild. I was determined not to focus on the misdeeds of the pastor but the impact of his actions on those around him. For me, that was a more complex story, a more interesting story. I bet you can imagine the drama showing the pastor’s unpastoral actions would have brought to the book, but that was not my book to write.

I want to make another point about a choice that I made with The Amen Sisters but it gives away some of the book, so I’m going to put it on the next page. Don’t select “Read the rest of this entry” at the end of this post if you don’t want to know.

Every author makes choices with the stories he or she chooses to write. Our stories reflect our perspective. Some writers say their stories represent a “Christian worldview.” I’d probably go along with that as long as it’s understood that my stories represent “a” Christian worldview, not “the” Christian worldview.” I make this distinction because even though we are Christians our individual views are colored by our personal experiences of Christ.

That’s it for tonight. Don’t forget that selecting “Read the rest of this entry” below will tell you something about The Amen Sisters that you may not want to know before you read it.

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Unexpected Blessings

I had two unexpected blessings today. First, this morning I found out that The Amen Sisters is going into a third printing. As of today, there are no books in stock; the reprint is scheduled for March 7. Second, this afternoon I received this wonderful thank-you e-mail from a student who’d chosen me as the topic for a school essay on writers:

Thank you so much. I made a 93% on that essay test. I’ ve never made that good of a grade.

She wrote back later to say:

. . .kids are really reading books now!! so really THANK YOU!! You’ve changed my school, and Me!! Just because I spoke about you and your books our school has so much more Respect for writers and how much they have been through!

You know, I was pretty high after finding out about the third printing for The Amen Sisters, but this young girl really made my day. Her excitement is contagious, isn’t it?

Bestseller News from Essence!

The Amen SistersI just found out that The Amen Sisters hit #10 on the Essence list of Best-selling Hardcover Fiction Books for February 2006. The Top 10 Books are posted on while only the Top 5 are published in the magazine.

This is the first time one of my books has made this list so I’m feeling especially blessed. What a wonderful way to end the week! My heartfelt thanks to each of the readers who purchased The Amen Sisters and gave it the numbers to make the list. Have a great weekend!

Second Printing for The Amen Sisters

The Amen SistersI learned this past weekend that The Amen Sisters was in its second printing. How did I get this piece of news? The old-fashioned way, of course. I opened a book that was purchased by a friend and read the copyright page. Near the bottom of the page, directly under the text, “First printing, September 2005,” I found the numbers “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 ” and no “1”. Well, the missing “1” indicated that the book is in its second printing. A missing “1” and a missing “2” would mean the book is in its third printing. Get it? Good. We’ll have a test on Friday. Psych!

So what does second printing mean? You would ask, now wouldn’t you? Well, it means the book is in its second printing. Duh. Okay, I’ll explain a bit better. When a book is first published a specific number of copies are printed. This is the first printing. The publisher prints more when orders reach or exceed the quantity on hand. Hence, subsequent printings.

I bet you have another question, don’t you? Yes, I knew you did. Now you want to know how many copies were printed in each printing. I want to know as well, so if you find out, please drop me an email. For now, I’m just happy to know that there is ongoing demand for The Amen Sisters. I pray it continues a while longer.

Now check the copyright page of your copy. The first person with a copy from the third printing will get a prize. I haven’t figured out yet what it will be, but it’ll be a goodie. Wink, wink.

Helping a Friend After the Trauma of an Abusive Church

The Amen SistersThis summer Precious Times Magazine published an article that I started writing in the summer of 1993, Helping a Friend After the Trauma of an Abusive Church. The article is a complement to The Amen Sisters. I wrote it hoping that it would help people who have friends and family involved in abusive church situations. So I share this article with you, hoping that you will share it with the people in your life that you think might be helped by reading it. Select the link below to read the article. God bless you.

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The Amen Sisters debuts on September 19!

The Amen SistersThe big day has arrived! Starting Monday, September 19, you should begin seeing The Amen Sisters in your bookstores. Do me a favor and let me know where you spot it. Just select Comments below this message and enter the details of your sighting.

I’m excited about the story and it seems the reviewers are, too. Take a look at my Reviews & News page to see. You can read an excerpt on the Walk Worthy Press web site at Excerpt.

Here’s a brief synopsis to whet your appetite:

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Press Release

Veteran Novelist Explores the Devastating Effects of Pastors Who Prey

The Amen Sisters

One of the brightest voices in Christian fiction, Angela Benson has been a finalist for its highest honor—the Christy award—and is the author of nine novels. Now, in The Amen Sisters (Walk Worthy Press November 2007; Trade paperback; $13.95) Angela brings you her most controversial and boldest story yet…a tale of two sisters with a heart wrenching and all too familiar story of betrayal.

Francine Amen was a ministry leader with an up-and-coming church who believed she had found her true calling. She publicly renounced her family, friends and church because she felt they didn’t believe “enough” and left her hometown. But, when Francine turned against a dear friend who accused the church pastor of sexually abusing her, the woman killed herself. Guilt ridden and ashamed, Francine turns to the one person who should always be there – her sister.

Dawn Amen-Ray sticks by her sister, Francine, because she feels it is the right thing to do. Still, Dawn has her own problems. She recently found out that her husband (Francine’s ex-boyfriend) cheated on her and Dawn is NOT in a forgiving mood. Besides, Francine hurt so many people Dawn cannot see how her sister can possibly ever make it all up to them or convince them to trust her again.

Insightful, unforgettably real and compassionate, The Amen Sisters is about confronting the difficult truth, facing our painful mistakes, and reclaiming God’s abundant hope and promise.

To schedule an interview or an event with Angela Benson, please download the Appearance Request form here.

Angela BensonAbout The Author

Angela Benson is a graduate of Spelman College and an Associate Professor of Educational Technology at the University of Alabama. Her recent titles include Abiding Hope (winner, 2002 EMMA Award) and Awakening Mercy (finalist, 2001 Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction). She resides in Alabama.

The Amen Sisters out in September!

The Amen SistersDrum roll, please! You can now view the cover and an excerpt of The Amen Sisters on the Walk Worthy Press web site at Excerpt.

I’m very excited about the book so please let me know what you think. If you have some opening thoughts that you’d like to share with others, you can always post a book review on or once the function becomes available (the book is available). We can also talk about the book right here on my web site. All you have to do is select Comment and then tell me what you think. I really do want to know.