I’m excited to introduce this next writer to you… Andrea is one of my local writer pals and fellow mama to little ones. We see each other at our local ACFW chapter meetings often. Last year we were both pregnant at the same time. This year we’re bringing our babies with us and swapping baby snuggles. Such fun! I can’t wait for you to hear about her work-in-progress and what she’s learned along the way. I hope it encourages you like it did me. 🙂
Andrea Strong is a stay-at-home mom of three and pastor’s wife in Southern Missouri. That “stay-at-home” part is really a misnomer. Andrea rarely has a day when she stays at home. Even so she wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Only she’d like to commit herself to regular writing time so she can fulfill God’s calling by telling the stories that are constantly spinning around in her head.
Visit her blog at http://andreastake.blogspot.com/.
Welcome to the blog, Andrea! I’m so happy you could join us today!
So tell us… When did you first start writing?
I had an idea for a story many years ago…maybe twelve or thirteen…I called it Give My Love to Rose, because it was inspired by a Johnny Cash song by that name. I started jotting down ideas in a notebook (actually a three brad pocket folder I filled with notebook paper). I fiddled with it now and then for years. Then probably seven or eight years ago, I believe God called me to write that story. He has given me lots of ideas for it and a couple of sequels…not to mention a few completely unrelated stories.
I was very surprised because I’ve always thought myself bad at creative writing. It’s one of the reasons I believe God has his hand on it. I’d never come up with the idea on my own. Also, even though I struggle with following this calling, God won’t let me give it up.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on raising my three kids (Ten, two, and five months)—two of whom have been sick for the last couple of weeks.
When I work on writing related things, it’s generally on Give My Love to Rose.
Give My Love to Rose is a romance set in Louisiana in 1879. Rose Carter is a widow whose husband spent the last ten years of his life in a California prison only to succumb to a terrible illness after his release while making his way back home. Calvin Rollins is a Yankee-turned-Colorado-rancher, and a widower. His late wife shared a distant family connection to Rose. They were dear friends and as fate—or God—would have it, Rose’s husband makes it to Calvin’s hometown when before he dies. His last words are, of course, about Rose and their son. Calvin feels compelled, by his own wife’s memory as well as his promise to the dying man, to deliver his meager belongings in person rather than shipping them across the country. So he goes to Louisiana to see Rose. What he finds there…well you’ll just have to read it someday when it’s published.
Awww, don’t leave us hanging! 😉 This sounds so good.
(I sure hope your kiddos feel better soon, btw!)
Can you tell us about one of your favorite characters you’ve written so far?
This is such a fun question. My answer may be surprising. My favorite character so far is actually the antagonist in the series that includes Give My Love to Rose. She’s an elderly woman in post-Reconstruction Louisiana. She harbors a huge secret that slowly eats away at her peace of mind until she’s nothing but a shell of her once lovely and sweet self, bitter about the War and all the things she lost to it.
Her name is Gertrude Abbott—affectionately named Aunt Trudy to my heroine Rose and her family. Aunt Trudy was the dearest friend to Rose’s mother, and Rose is determined to love her no matter how bitter she becomes in her old age. This resolve is tested when Rose begins to fall in love with a Yankee, and it’s more than Aunt Trudy can take. She becomes farther and farther estranged from those who love her most until her secret comes to light in the final book.
Aunt Trudy’s turn around isn’t written yet, but I can assure it will be glorious.
Ah, I can’t wait to meet her and see where her journey takes her! 😉
What’s something you love about your home state?
One of my favorite things about Missouri is the changing of seasons, especially summer into fall. I love fall. I also love the riot of color that bathes our beautiful hills during those weeks. The nip in the air, hay rides, apple cider. And yes, deer and turkey seasons. My husband is a hunter, and we regularly supplement the grocery budget with wild meat.
Gotta love our Ozarks in the fall, right? 😉
What’s one of your favorite books?
I always answer this question differently because I love so many books. As a tribute to my wonderful Ozark Hills, this time I choose The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright. It’s an amazing story of redemption and forgiveness and coming of age. It’s set in the hills and hollows of the Southern Missouri Ozarks back when Branson, Missouri was little more than a settlement.
I hate to admit I’ve not read the book yet, but I have been to the play there in Branson. Such a neat place and story!
What is one of your favorite Scripture verses?
Colossians 3:23. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”
God commands us to be holy, like he is holy. We must love him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. For a long time I struggled, wondering “How do I do that?” God gave me this verse for my answer. Turn every task to him and do it for his glory. Whether I’m singing a special in church, balancing the checkbook, or changing a diaper, I am to honor him with the task. This also helps me when I’m feeling put upon or taken for granted.
Can you tell us about a special moment from your writing journey so far?
The most special moment so far is the moment I believe God called me to this. I was listening to my husband preach a message about Moses and his stick. God found Moses at the back side of a desert with nothing but a stick. Then Moses dedicated his life and his stick to God, and look what amazing things God did with Moses and his stick. “What is your stick?” was the question he posed. “Find out, and then give to God and see what amazing things he’ll do with it.”
I said in my heart, “Okay, God, what is my stick?” The answer came audibly to me, but not to anyone else, I’m sure. “Give My Love to Rose.” At that point I was still just fiddling with a folder full of notes. “Really?” I thought. I knew exactly what it meant, but I couldn’t really believe that was the answer. But he’s never let me forget it.
I haven’t been quick to follow. I’ve dragged my feet a lot along the way, made many starts and stops. But in all these years there has never been a day I haven’t thought of Rose, Calvin, and Aunt Trudy. And though he denies it, my husband preaches to me about it frequently.
Love hearing about that special moment.
What’s been one of the most challenging aspects of writing?
One of my biggest challenges (besides epic procrastination) is believing I can do this thing. I’ve always been good at analytical writing. Give me a set of sources and I’ll whip up a research paper or critical analysis to rival anyone’s. Teachers and professors all through high school and college affirmed me about this.
But I always believed I was bad at creative writing. It’s been hard for me to face the truth that I am called by the most creative Writer in the universe. If God has called me, and I truly believe he has, he will equip me to fulfill his calling as he’s been doing for his followers since the beginning of time.
Name a few authors who inspire you.
The two who inspire me most are Melissa Jagears and Carol Moncado. These are two of my dearest friends. I could write pages about how wonderful they are to me and why I don’t deserve them. Instead I’ll tell you why they inspire me as writers.
Melissa Jagears is a homeschooling mother of three. She writes for publication with Bethany House. She juggles clotheslines, storylines, and deadlines and manages to write amazing novels (She also lets me beta read her novels, which is one of those reasons I don’t deserve her). Her most recent release, A Heart Most Certain, is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Carol Moncado is a full time writer and mother of four very active and involved children (all of whom will be teenagers together in just a few short years). She writes wicked fast, and she does it everywhere – the public pool, the orthodontist’s office, the school pick-up line. She’s fearless. She’ll try out any software, go to any conference. She has tackled the indie publishing world with gusto, and is making a pretty good go of it. Her books are released in such quick succession I haven’t had time to read them all. Her latest release Glimpsing Hope just went live on Amazon a few days ago.
Both of these women, once they decided to do this writing thing, jumped in with both feet. They haven’t made excuses about why they don’t have time or someone is discouraging them. The just did it. They both encourage me in my writing, but they don’t cut me any slack when I make excuses. I strive to follow their example, and I know they’ll be in the front of the cheering section when I finally do manage to publish, whether traditional or indie.
Love hearing more about these two special ladies. 😉 They inspire me too!
Can you share a word of advice to other writers out there on the road to publication?
Write. That’s a word. It’s the one I’ve received the most from many writer friends like Melissa and Carol. Just sit down and write. You have to decide that nothing is going to stop you. When you do, you’ll make a go of it. Someday (hopefully soon) I’ll follow that excellent advice and find my own name on the front of a book.
Your visit brightened my day, Andrea. Thanks so much for sharing! It was such fun to have you here. Blessings to you and yours, my friend. Can’t wait to read your story someday too!