Becky Andersen is the oldest of six children in a close-knit and fun-loving family. She never went to one school two years in a row until her junior and senior years in high school, and then ended up marrying her high school sweetheart at age 20. For thirty-seven years they lived a life full of fun and laughter with two daughters until the sudden and unexpected death of her husband.
Fast forward several years later: She survived widowhood, was put on an online dating site by her children, married her cyber sweetheart, and has now published two books. "We're Not Sixteen Anymore" is the true-life, laugh-out-loud account of dating as a senior citizen - when the last time Andersen had dated, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were first walking on the moon.
Her second novel is a fiction book about widowed sisters who take a bus tour to try to "find themselves" while finding something to do other than to sit around and grieve. It's called "The Widsters" and is a sometimes funny, sometimes tearful, compelling and engaging read. While fiction, Andersen again uses some of her own experiences to provide a true-to-life glimpse into the lives of older, but young-at-heart women.
Becky is now the grandmother of nine wonderful children. She enjoys reading, writing stories for her grands, gardening, walking, tennis, traveling, and is currently trying to figure out where all the free time disappears that was supposed to come with retirement.
We asked Becky Andersen 10 Questions, that we the readers love to know. She was lovely enough to join in on the fun and answer them.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In 4th grade, I had a teacher write on a paper I’d turned in “You should be a writer someday.” Uh, right! Not gonna happen. And yet that stayed with me for years and years (I’m 68!!). One job I had almost 40 years ago, I was the “editor” of a Farm Bureau page that went out to the Iowa division of Farm Bureau members. “Editor” meant writer, and after I managed to get my first page out, I got a lot of positive feedback for my tongue-in-cheek writing. From then on, I loved to write articles, stories, and finally a book!
How long does it take you to write a book?
I don’t have a definitive answer for you. I’m not one of those authors who can churn out book after book. I wish I were! Not Sixteen was a story that ended itself naturally. I didn’t have any type of deadline, but I think I worked on it for two or three months – NOT every day, nor long periods of time. But I’ve also written a fictional novel and it took me about six months to complete because I did research and then let the story tell itself.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Schedule? Are we supposed to have a schedule??? Eek! Maybe it’s because I’m retired I haven’t had much of a schedule, but I AM definitely a morning person, so when I am writing, I try to get up, showered, dressed, and then down to my computer for about 4-5 hours. I confess that may not be every day in a row!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Besides having to have a can of Diet Mountain Dew available at all times, I guess my quirk is that I would rather write long-hand on paper – at least to begin with. There’s a fantastic satisfaction after about three or four pages of written work in a spiral notebook, ripping them out, wadding them up and trying to see if I have high school girls basketball skills left when I throw them into a garbage can! Plus if I don’t end up throwing them away to start over, I make notes on the side, number and circle paragraphs and draw arrows up to a blank spot I think might be a better place, and maybe use different colored ink to write different things. In other words, I waste time doing what I could do just the same on the computer, only faster. I never thought that was a quirk. Now I do. Jeepers! I better change!!!
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
In my case, it’s LIFE. My own experiences, although I’ve written three books just for my grandchildren, and they were total imagination, which I loved – and fortunately, they did, too!
When did you write your first book?
My first book, We’re Not Sixteen Anymore, was written shortly after I married my second husband. He was still working, and I was retired. We both had been widowed, and our kids put us on Match.com. I’d posted on Facebook about some of my dates and very naive attempts at navigating cyberdating since it had been 40 years since I’d last dated. I had so many people wanting me to expand my stories that I decided to write. BQB/WriteLife Publishing accepted my story in 2015 and it was published June 2016.
hat do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to take walks, garden, read, and see family and friends. During this pandemic, the last two have been almost non-existent (I have kids who live in Europe and Florida – both places foreign to this native Iowan!!!) SO I’m now into genealogy! And scanning the thousands, and I’m not kidding about that number, of photographs of my childhood, youth, marriage, motherhood and now old age. Thank heaven for photoshop when it comes to whitening teeth and erasing wrinkles!!!
What does your family think of your writing?
What any good, loving family thinks: I’m brilliant, talented and funny. Oh, and I need to mention my family is also well-trained not to hurt my feelings…. ;
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
You know, I’ve told so many people this, but it took me writing a book to realize that I never once - in all the years of being read to as a baby and reading as soon as I could for over 60 years now – never once did I stop to think how an idea in someone’s mind got from inside their head to the shelves of a library or bookstore! Talk about it takes a village. What an education in creating, editing and publishing a book this has been!
Which book that you have written is your favorite?
I’d have to say my first one. It was like having a baby! I enjoyed writing “We’re Not Sixteen Anymore” and even more so, I enjoy the feedback I get from readers. I am thrilled to death when someone reviews Not Sixteen and says they laughed out loud while reading it. Life can be very serious and sad sometimes. Laughter is good for the mind and the soul – and I know this for a fact!
Thank you Becky for all your wonderful answers, they sure put a smile on my face.