Monday Morning Writer Interview – Brenda Anderson

I’m delighted to introduce you to Minnesota born and bred writer/blogger Brenda Anderson.

Brenda AndersonWhere 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 Minnesota Twinslove 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. Minnehaha FallsWe’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?

ACFW LogoIt’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 Wild_Thing_Roller_Coaster_2007tremendous 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 …

inkspirational messages logoDo 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 editingCapturing Beauty 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.

Open Door CrossI 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.
Website: http://brendaandersonbooks.com/
Blogs: http://inkspirationalmessages.com/
http://brendaandersonbooks.com/blog/

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About Stacy Monson

Stacy is an award-winning author and freelance writer. Shattered Image and Dance of Grace, Books 1 and 2 of the Chain of Lakes Series, are available on Amazon in print and ebook formats. Book 3 will release Spring of 2017. Past president and founder of MN-NICE, the Minnesota ACFW chapter, she is now the Area Director for Minnesota.
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23 Responses to Monday Morning Writer Interview – Brenda Anderson

  1. Michelle Lim says:

    Brenda, it is so fun to hear about your journey! YOU LOVE WINTER?!!! Wow, that is something I never knew about you!

    Like

    • Stacy Monson says:

      Michelle, Brenda is the only interviewee I’ve had here that has said that (or anything even remotely close to that sentiment!). That’s one Minnesotan who loves winter!

      Like

    • Hi Michelle! Yep, give me 20 below over 90 above any day! I think my fondness for winter goes back to growing up on the farm where winter offered so many fun activities (That’s a blog post in itself!), and summer meant stacking bales and picking rock. 🙂

      Like

  2. Elizabeth Bohan says:

    Wow, I really enjoyed reading about your journey. What wonderful childhood experiences and memories! I also love the quote from Tosca Lee, to write like no one else is going to read it, and as Brenda added it provides more life for the book. Thanks Stacy for another great interview!

    Like

  3. stvannatter says:

    Brenda,
    I knew we had more in common than critiquing each others work. I prefer winter over summer too. I’d rather be cold that hot. You can always get warm, but you can’t always get cool. I’m not sure I’d feel that way facing a Minnesota winter though 🙂

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    • Stacy Monson says:

      Shannon, I agree that I’d rather be cold (when you can warm up) rather than hot (when it’s harder to cool off) – but I just can’t say I actually prefer winter!!

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    • Shannon – my thoughts exactly. I can always add layers of clothing to keep warm, but you can only take so much off. 😉

      You should come up and visit sometime in January to get the full effect of a Minnesota winter. You’re always welcome!

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  4. Pingback: Guest at Land of 10,000 Words | BRENDA ANDERSON BOOKS

  5. Thank you, Stacy, for inviting me! And thank you for being such an encourager for me and all authors. You’re fabulous!

    Like

  6. Nicole says:

    Awesome lady you are, Bren. It’s just a matter of time before publication. You’ve got what it takes, Girlfriend. Hang in there.

    Like

  7. Kav says:

    Loved this peek into all that is Brenda! I just discovered St. Paul’s nefarious gangster history recently after reading Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock. Who knew? I thought you Minnesotians were all upstanding citizens from generations back!

    Like

    • Stacy Monson says:

      Well, we certainly ARE upstanding citizens (with just a few exceptions)!

      Like

    • Kav – I have Sweet Mercy on my bedstand at this very moment! I love Ann Tatlock (a former Minnesota resident), and the gangster angle makes it even more intriguing. I hope to see a review on your blog soon.

      Those gangsters must have been around before we all became Minnesota Nice. 😉

      Like

  8. dtopliff says:

    Enjoyable to read and learn and truly wishing you the best in contest, on submissions, the agenting and contracting process–everything. Yes, it is quite a ride.

    Like

  9. I have no doubt but what you’ll get published someday! Your writing and your stories are terrific (though I am somewhat prejudiced)!

    Like

  10. Leanne Hardy says:

    I love the North Shore and photography so I will look forward to Capturing Beauty. Do you know there is a gorgeous Capture Minnesota photo site? http://www.captureminnesota.com/showcases

    Like

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