When does experience really begin? That's a difficult question for Andrea to answer. Her earliest memories of writing were around the age of ten. She wrote and illustrated a "Muppet Magazine," full of attention-grabbing headlines and corresponding pieces having to do with Miss Piggy and Kermit, neatly bound with pink yarn. Andrea also wrote, by hand, two books around that same age. The first--about a magical world that could be accessed through a large hole in a neighborhood tree trunk. A young girl stumbles across this magical entrance and finds herself in another world where a war was being waged by trolls against the unicorns that roamed the land. They were captured and chained to stakes in the ground. This young girl soon came to realize that she was only one who could save them. The second book Andrea wrote was a biography of a cat named "Princess," and her adventures with the family who adopted and rescued her from life in a shelter.
But if experience begins with printed material that was actually read by someone other than her parents, then Andrea's earliest experience with writing and journalism was in high school where she was co-editor of its paper back in 1989. However, a little, local publication (circulated to the actual public) was the first real newspaper to publish some of Andrea's articles while she was in high school. The very first was about her French pen pal, his first trip to America to visit her after the two corresponded for three years, and his perceptions of America. The paper didn't pay for the piece, but it gave Andrea her first published clips to put in her portfolio. More importantly, it was a first taste of freelance writing, and the beginning of an addiction to bylines.
Since then, Andrea has been published in countless magazines and newspapers. She managed a wildlife sanctuary in Texas after graduating from college where she listened to complaints and concerns about wildlife-related problems for two years, eventually turning the most frequently-asked questions and subsequent answers into helpful articles--like what to do if you find a baby bird. They eventually led to a published book on how to co-exist with wildlife.
Andrea knew she wanted to be a journalist. After her years at the sanctuary, she enrolled in a Masters of Journalism program at Concordia University in Montreal. She freelanced throughout the program, publishing articles in community newspapers and magazines, and eventually the city's Montreal Gazette. Her mandatory internship was at the prominent Kingston Whig-Standard in Ontario where various assignments resulted in published articles with her byline! The last story she wrote made the front page. It was a piece on finances co-authored with a staff writer.
Ironically Andrea pursued broadcast journalism, even though her specialty was in print. She was a television reporter for 17 years, learning how to write in short, fragmented sentences, and was often criticized for writing pieces that were too long and contained too much information! She turned many of her "big" stories into published magazines articles after taking home the quotes and notes from her tape logs. She'd write into the wee hours of the morning in order to finish the pieces while the information was still fresh in her mind.
Andrea's currently trying to secure a freelance writing career from home to support her while she works on her ultimate goal--books filled with creative, non-fiction, and novels for children!