Austin360 blogs > Out & About > Archives > 2011 > July > 12 > EntryShareProfile: Dr. Monica AndersonBy Michael Barnes | Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 05:33 PMEven a seasoned social columnist yawps at the mental picture of Dr. Monica Anderson ’sschedule.Dentist by day. Romance novelist by night. And so much more in between, including mother oftwo grown sons, motivational speaker, serial volunteer and founder of Austin’s BlackNewcomers Association.“It is difficult,” says Anderson, who goes by “Dr. Moe” and whose first name is pronounced Mo-NEE-ka. “I have learned to greatly limit my aspirations and match my ambition to my age andaches. I’ve learned that I need peace and time and quiet.”Super-achieving Anderson, 48, wrote lifestyle columns for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and haspublished five books, three of them classified as romance novels. After years of private practice
in the Arlington area, Anderson now delivers dental healthcare to disadvantaged schoolchildrenthrough the St. David’s Foundation in Austin.“Public health fits in with my core passions,” she says.Born in Houston, Anderson grew up in the Fort Worth area, daughter of a retired principal,Arcolia Jenkins , and a retired educator and coach, Jimmy Jenkins .As might be expected in such a household, she proved a diligent student, but also, showing earlypluck, she was voted “Most Witty” by her senior class. She dutifully attended Baylor University,followed by dental school at the University of Minnesota.“My best friend and I decided in the 10th grade that we’d be dentists,” she smiles indulgently.“Well, he decided for us. He’s now a salesman at Neiman Marcus and I’m the dentist. Actually,we weren’t exposed to many professions on career day and dentistry combined my two greatinterests of art and science.”Marriage — she is divorced — produced two sons Alfred Anderson Jr ., 24, and AdrianAnderson , 22, who appear on the cover of her romantic suspense novel, “I Stand Accused.”Her first book, however, explored Black English Venacular phonetics, right before the 1996uproar in Oakland over adding Ebonics to school curricula.“Quite frankly I don’t care to talk about Ebonics ever again,” she says. “Leave it to theprofessors.”Six years later came a collection of her family-humor newspaper columns in the tradition ofErma Bombeck and Bill Cosby . The anthology gathered together reader favorites from 500columns written over the course of eight years.Next came fiction. “I had always had it in my mind to write a novel and had been working onone for 10 years,” she says. “When writing a book, the work is stop and start, stop and start.People’s eye colors kept changing — and their heights. So I took time off to write, speak andtravel.”The result was “When a Sistah’s Fed Up.” The protagonist is African American mayor of aDallas/Fort Worth suburb. A male assistant has always been in love with her. She’s been adevoted wife and mother, but discontented with life, she’s torn between values and emotions.Does it end happily like most romance novels?“That’s the formula,” she says. “Mine ends realistically. Bittersweet. We don’t always get whatwe want, or what we think we want.”
“I Stand Accused” jumps back and forth in time, telling of an opthamologist whose father wasmurdered in East Texas. Trying to restart a relationship from his youth, the doctor seeks to solvethe mystery of his father’s death.“Sinphony” is set in Austin, where a third-grade school teacher whose school is underperformingwants to become vice-principal. She’s a single mom competing with her romantic interest forthat job.Anderson’s novels, which combine vernacular with standardized diction, have appeared onseveral best-seller lists, driven in part by e-book purchases, which make up from 40 to 50 percentof her sales.Were dentistry and writing not enough, Anderson, a third generation member of Zeta Phi Betasorority, volunteers, socializes or serves in leadership positions for groups such as the NationalCouncil of Negro Women, GivingCity Austin, LifeWorks, Baylor University AlumniAssociation, American Dental Association and Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church.One of her proudest creations, however, is the Austin’s Black Newcomers Association. Whenshe moved here three years ago, Anderson spent a lot of time Googling historically black socialgroups.
“After living here several months and getting settled, I felt very isolated and lonely,” says theSouth Austin empty-nester. “I’m a pretty good networker. I can imagine what other newcomersfeel.’”She thought: What if all the information were found in one place?“I saw the creation of this organization as a sort of missing link or niche I could fill and helpother new residents quickly learn about African American media, professional associations,annual events and organizations,” she says.When she is not touring — or, these days, using Skype — to promote her books, she speakspublically on the medical benefits of humor, communication skills, start-up businesses,publishing and self-employment.During her spare moments, you might find Anderson hang-gliding, jumping off bridges or skydiving.“I really indulge both sides of my brain,” she says. “When I play, I play hard. I take calculatedrisks. When I’m doing dentistry, because it’s so detailed and analytic, I take it seriously.”Lately, she’s learned to set aside personal time in a disciplined way.“If it’s important, I schedule it,” she says. “Everything else is in my smart phone: I should betoo.”Photo Credit: D. BrownPermalink | Comments (3) | Post your comment Categories: MediaCommentsWhen commenting, we ask that you keep things civil and abide by our Visitor Agreement . Toreport comment abuse, click here .By Damita ShanklinJuly 20, 2011 3:24 PM | Link to thisAs I work to promote positive images in our Austin Black community, reading about Dr. MonicaAnderson and what she is doing in the Austin community is great news!. Ive had the opportunityto listen to Dr. Moe speak about her books as well as how to make others a better writer and bothtimes she was inspirational.Another positive aspect that shows Dr. Moe is a go-getter is she started the Austin NewcomersAssociation to ensure that when people move to Austin they will have the resources available tothem, which she had to search for when she arrived to our wonderful city.
I hope more positive people will be profiled in the Austin American Statesman that represent ourblack community and all the wonderful things we do to help make up this beautiful city we callAustin.My hats off to you Dr. Moe!DamitaBy Johnson, M. D.July 15, 2011 4:12 PM | Link to thisThank you Austin 360 for more coverage on Austins very on Dr. Anderson!I have enjoyed reading Dr mOes wonderful work about strong, make that "VERY STRONG"women, who have to survive circumstances regardless of the overwhelming odds. Sheexemplifies success and knows how to define it for her fictional family of friends. Her ability topull the reader "into the moment" is amazing.As I travel the world --- I love sharing my time with her characters....what will she think of next?Keep writing Dr mOe!MJBy Monica AndersonJuly 13, 2011 2:36 PM | Link to thisMichael, thank you so very much for featuring me and, more importantly, the wonderfulorganizations I work with, volunteer with, and support in your popular, well-written column! Itwas delightful to finally meet you in person. Heres wishing you continued success and all thelove you can stand. My very best...mOehttp://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/outandabout/entries/2011/07/12/profile_dr_moni.html/