Ask Mrs. M – Part 1

See more Author Trivia in Andi’s Attic >>

In case you are wondering, the pictures in the above image are all of me as a little kids, except the cover images for my short stories. Those I found on DepositPhotos.

Remember when I asked you for help thinking up questions last month (July)? I promised I would go ahead and answer (to the best of my ability) the questions you posed, even though only nine or ten were sent to the Zoom interview. So, hang on! I will answer them in the order in which they were received. Duplicates were put together into only one question. This long post is divided into two parts. This is part 1.

Note: any repeated questions have been combined.

  • Sara M asked: When did you start writing?
    • I started writing when I was about nine. My first poem in the third grade was posted to the teacher’s lounge. I guess they thought it was worthy of “publication.” It’s called “The Reflection” and goes like this.
      • On my way home from Seattle, I saw something funny you see.
      • When the light shown on it, it was very funny indeed.
      • I saw little people in water, standing up very, very straight.
      • But when the light was gone, they all swam away.
    • My first story was titled Up to Mars. It was about a girl and a boy who went up to Mars. I can’t remember how they got there or what they did there or how they got home. I just remember my fourth grade teacher was really into outer space and I was hooked! I loved Mars.
    • My first published book (hand copied!) was called The Stars Know the Way. It me took six months to copy my story from a notebook into a blank, hardback book. I much prefer computer keyboarding!!! I have a couple of other silly stories on my author page if you care to read them.
  • Kayleigh H. asked: Is Andi’s Character based off of you, or someone you know? and . . . When did you start writing the Andi Carter series?
    • Andi is pretty much based off of how great it would be if I lived back then in that family. But I also drew on real-life characters Caddie Woodlawn and Laura Ingalls, as well as the fictional Anne Shirley to give my Andi spunk and balance.
    • I started writing the Andi series in 1991 when my youngest (“Cory” on the Trouble with Treasure cover) was four months old. I had just gotten a Commodore 64 computer and my hubby suggested I write on that rather than in my spiral notebooks. The first Andi story I wrote was the book that is now Dangerous Decision. I titled it Andrea Carter and the Golden Rule. Yeah. I like Dangerous Decision better! (I wish I still had that old manuscript. It–like Trouble at the Line Shack–is quite different from the published version.)
Commodore 64! (the “64” means 64 kb). 1,000 kb = 1 MB. You do the math. LOL
  • Mary asked: What made you want to write the Andi books?
    • I loved the old TV westerns like Bonanza and The Big Valley. I thought the shows could be greatly improved if a younger sister were added. So . . . I added one (like I did in the Here Come the Brides post with Jenny). I wrote a bunch of fan fiction (you all know what that is) to go along with and expand the episodes. Those stories eventually became the Circle C Adventures (with a lot of changes). More about this is forthcoming in the new Peek Behind the Curtain posts. (I bet you can hardly wait.)
  • Essie B. asked: Are any of the horses in the Circle C books based off of horses that you have or have had?
    • Melinda’s horse Panda, a sorrel mare, is the same horse as my daughter Kristel’s horse Panda (short for Pandora). However, Taffy was my own creation. We found a number of “Taffys” for various covers. See the Many Faces of Taffy post.
  • Andrea D. had many questions. I will try to answer them quickly here.
    • What’s your favorite name for a horse? Taffy.
    • What’s a hobby you have (or something you do) that most authors probably don’t have/do? I like to split wood with our gas-powered log splitter.
    • What magazine subscriptions do you get/like? None
    • How many times have you been bucked off a horse? Never.
    • What’s your favorite dinner (or meal)? Stir fry from the garden.
    • What’s a snack/food/drink you usually have while writing? Tea and chocolate (dark) or cookies! Yum!
    • What’s a snack/food/drink you usually have while writing? When I’m under contract I pray for daily “manna,” which is usually about 1,000 words.
    • How long does it typically take you to write a book? Under contract? 3-4 months. On my own? Forever!
    • Who is your favorite character (besides Andi)? Justin
    • Who is your biggest supporter in your writing career? My husband, who hauls all my books around to conventions. And in the beginning, Colleen Reece, my mentor who “forced” me to be brave and send an email to her editor about my manuscript.
    • How do you handle new ideas? (Write then down immediately? Where? Do you organize them? Etc) I write them down on a Word doc and keep them in the folder that goes with the book I’m working on.
  • Lulu also had many questions. One more time . . . quickly!
    • What was your favorite book to write and why? I think either The Last Ride or Stranger in the Glade. Why? The Last Ride was very intense with a very relevant theme (forgiveness), and Stranger was easy-peasy, since so many fans helped me come up with story ideas.
    • Do you ever listen to music while writing? Nope
    • Have you ever gotten an idea for one of your books that never made it into the published version, but you still have in the back of your head, “just in case”? Yes. The Terrible Secret is one of those.
    • What do you do to combat writer’s block? I pray for daily “manna” if I’m under contract. I go do something else if I’m writing for fun and I don’t sweat it.
    • Has anything Andi and her family/friends gone through happened to you in real life? Anything from mundane to adventurous, but I’m sure you have never been kidnapped by a runaway outlaw! Yes. In the Circle C Beginnings, when Riley pulls a hair from Andi’s head to tie up a fly, my two oldest did that. Kristel gave Chad a long strand of hair to tie up a fly instead of working on their schoolwork (they were homeschooled). In Family Secret, I used real stories from my friends. One had a son who left when their daughter was born and never returned. He was 15, just like Kate. Also, my ex-daughter-in-law’s sister had three young children and an abusive husband so she “came home.” I used both of those for Family Secret.
Riley tying up the fly for Andi in CC Christmas
  • Jenny asked: Do you own horses? If so how many? I don’t own any right now, but my daughter in “Andi Country” in California owns five (this includes Minnie Mae and Colton). Two mares are pregnant, and the sorrel will 100% have a palomino foal, which she promised will be named Taffy–colt or filly.
  • Jalaena asked a few questions that are easy to answer.
    • What’s something that happened to you that you’ve written about. I can’t think of anything off hand that I used from my own experience. I like to make things up.
    • Do you base animals in the story with animals that you have or someone else has? Only Panda, Melinda’s horse.
    • Out of all your Circle C characters which one do you think you’re like the most. Andi.
  • Emma A. asked a few questions too.
    • If you could go back to Andi’s time (1880’s) would you? Maybe. I think I’d rather go into the future and join the crew of the USS Enterprise. If so, would you live in California or someplace else? California. I love it there.
    • What was the worst thing that happened to you when writing your books? (Like did it ever get deleted, trashed, etc.) Not knowing how it was going to end! And being under contract at the same time. Not. Fun.
    • Were you ever crying over one of your stories while you wrote it out? I don’t shed tears easily, but I got a little teary when Andi fell over the cliff and I knew Taffy wasn’t going to make it. My sister Julie read The Last Ride when it was only half-finished (like Terrible Secret) and she told me she bawled her eyes out. The Last Ride almost didn’t get published because almost everybody told me not to let Taffy die! But my publisher had no problem with that idea, and they published it.
    • Did one of your manuscripts ever get declined? Why or why not? No. Kregel will pretty much publish whatever I write at this point. The problem is, it’s so much work to write for publication and not hear as much fun as it is just to write for fun (like finishing up Terrible Secret.)
    • Do you want to continue writing or just enjoy your series as is? Oh, I think it would be fun to do more of the short-story collections. They are way easier to write than a full-length novel.
  • Katie M’s questions have been answered above someplace. Except for: Which book did you have the most ideas for? Hmmm . . . I think that would be San Francisco Smugglers. There were a lot of different directions I could go (like focusing the plot more on happenings and conflict at the girls’ school), but I went with the more serious theme of the slave trade.
  • Lily J. asked: Why do u like writing? Because I like to pretend I’m somewhere else, whether I’m Andi in the Old West, Jenny in old Seattle, or a little girl named Jamie in outer space. All of them are me in different times and places and it’s just a lot of fun to imagine. No lofty reason.
  • Maddie G. asked: How much time do you spend writing in one day? (When you were in the middle of writing the series) I always committed from about 9am to noon to write, even if I felt blank. Amazingly, I always reached my goal of like . . . one chapter a day (for the little kids’ books). God always answered my prayer for daily “manna” (words).

Go to Part 2 >>

Published by Andi Carter

I'm the main character in the Circle C Adventures series. I live on a huge cattle ranch in 1880s California. These are my adventures.

21 thoughts on “Ask Mrs. M – Part 1

  1. Wow!!! I loved seeing all the answered questions!!! That was so cool! Mrs M i would love to see your space stories!!


  2. Wonderful post and illustrations. Brings back so many memories of watching you grew from a good writer to an excellent writer.Brainstorming and track changing each other’s books. I go back periodically and read all your books. They are on my “keeper” shelf!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was fun! As soon as the host puts it up on my Author Interview page, I will post a link and you guys can all watch it. There will be three “parts,” each about 4-5 minutes long. Just little bits and pieces but fun. Thanks for asking!


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