I’m delighted to introduce you to Minnesota born and bred writer/blogger Brenda Anderson.
Where did you grow up? I grew up on a dairy farm in Maple Lake, Minnesota. In my opinion, it was the best possible place to grow up. We worked hard, but we also played very hard. The entire farm was our playground. We had musical theater and Tarzan-like adventures in our hayloft. We carved bicycle racing paths through our woods. The hill across the road was the perfect sledding hill (as long as we swerved the sleds before reaching the barbed wire fence at the bottom of the hill). Our pond became a giant skating and hockey rink. Swimming lakes were within bicycle distance.
I loved all the open space, the greenery, all the animals, the sky that frequently displayed shooting stars and the northern lights. My daughter said I was spoiled. Yeah, I guess I was.
It sounds like a fabulous place to grow up. What do you love about living in Minnesota? What are you not particularly fond of living here? I love Minnesota! I love the four seasons, even winter. Actually, I prefer winter to summer. I love the lakes, trees, prairies, hills. The music and theater scene is second to none. I love the professional sports teams, especially the Twins (major league baseball). I can’t think of a place I’d rather live.
Is there anything you’d like to experience in Minnesota that you haven’t yet? Oh, there’s so much! I’d love to go on the St. Paul Gangster Tour. I’ve yet to explore the caves in Harmony, Minnesota. Walnut Grove has the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, plus it puts on the Wilder Pageant in July. There are many museums in the cities I haven’t toured yet. Then there are numerous waterfalls along the north shore I’ve yet to see. I could go on…
Each summer, our family tries to do a few things, see a few sites, specific to Minnesota. We’ve visited the Sculpture Garden, Minnehaha Falls, Lake Itasca, Stone Arch Bridge, Capitol Building, and the North Shore, to name a few. But we’ve barely touched on what this state has to offer.
What did you want to be when you grew up? That’s easy. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. Even back in grade school I wrote plays that our class put on. My quiet times were most often spent penning a new story.
Tell us about your writing journey. While I always wanted to be a writer, I believed that writing was a frivolous dream. In college, I debated between a math and English major (yes, I love numbers!). My seven am calculus class with the Russian-speaking professor helped make up my mind. I ended up majoring in Literature/ Communications, then found work as an administrative assistant in a small, family-owned tool and die company. Not exactly my dream, but I got to work with spreadsheets, so I was happy.
Then kids came along, and I chose to stay home with them. With three kids born within four years, I didn’t have time to read, much less write.
Well, those kids grew up and went to school full time, and suddenly I had time on my hands. My first thought was to get a paying job. Living on a mac ‘n cheese budget gets tiresome after a while. A new Christian bookstore was just opening up in our city, so I picked up an application and started filling it out.
But, a voice kept nudging me. At bedtime, a story kept growing in my imagination with characters who wouldn’t let me go. Instead of finishing that application, I sat at the computer and started writing. Two weeks later, I confessed to my husband that I was writing a book instead of looking for work. His response? “It’s about time!”
How’s that for affirmation?
It’s amazing! What a guy! So where are you now with your writing? Eight years later, I have six completed novels, with ideas for a dozen more buzzing in my head. In 2012, my women’s fiction novel, Pieces of Granite, was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest, and my contemporary romance, Hearts at Risk, was a finalist!
Congratulations! So what is a lesson you’ve learned along the way? Other than “Have patience!”? I’ve learned how small the publishing world really is, especially within the CBA. There are so many authors I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and many of them are very willing to help the beginning writer. I’ve learned that published authors are regular people too.
What have you found most difficult? The drastic ups and downs. Writing for publication is not just a rolling-hill adventure, but rather a roller coaster ride. I’ve had tremendous highs which set you up for the big disappointments. I’ll think my career is headed in one direction, then, without warning, it jerks the opposite way. There are many times I feel like I’m in a dark tunnel, not knowing which direction God wants me to turn, yet other times, His path is very clear. When you get on this writing coaster, be prepared for whiplash.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received so far? I stole this quote from Tosca Lee: “Write like nobody else is going to read this.” Too often we get caught up in the rules of writing. It becomes a legalistic venture that removes the heart. I’ve found that when I write freely as a form of worship, my stories have more life. Sure, I’ll have to go back and edit, but the foundation is set.
That’s fabulous advice for writers at every level. Do you have an agent? If not, what’s been your process as you look for one (if you are, indeed, looking for one)? I am looking for an agent. This is one of those roller coaster rides I mentioned above. While I’ve cold queried a few agents, most I’ve contacted via conference, with them asking for proposals. Currently, an agent whom I’d love to work with is looking at a full manuscript—the second full she requested—and I’m … waiting …
Do you do any writing other than fiction (blog, freelance, etc.)? I have a blog at my website: http://brendaandersonbooks.com/blog/. Tuesdays are for Book Talk and Thursdays are for Hot Dish—whatever I feel like talking about. I also contribute bi-weekly at http://inkspirationalmessages.com/, a ten-author site. We blog about perspectives on life and writing.
Tell us about what you are currently working on. I’m editing Capturing Beauty, the second book in my Where the Heart Is series. It’s about a freelance photographer assigned to capture unique angles of the North Shore’s beauty. What he wants most is to reunite with the son he was forced to leave behind years ago. He finds Callie, a woman who sees herself as ordinary when she’s anything but, a woman who fears being photographed. It’s a story about learning to see people and creation as God sees them, about looking beyond our first impressions and seeing into the heart.
I love the cover to that book! And the story sounds wonderful. What are your future plans and goals around writing? Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me Heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Until I hear otherwise, I plan to keep writing and learning. I plan to continue seeking publication. Whether publication is in God’s ultimate plan or not, I don’t know. The feedback I’ve received along the way points in that direction, but there are no guarantees. So, I’ll stay the path until God veers me in another direction.
Brenda, you are such an inspiration. I wish you the best as you pursue your dream of publication. I know how fabulous your writing is, so I’m sure that dream will come true very soon. Thanks for being here!
Please feel free to chat with Brenda here or on her website, and be sure to check out her blogs.