Lena Nelson Dooley interview

» Posted on Jun 13, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Lena Nelson Dooley interview

1. What made you start writing?
I’ve always written. I didn’t know people didn’t write, until I married my husband who didn’t like to read or write. I started writing professionally in 1984, when God used several events to tell me that He wanted me to write. If anyone wants to read the complete testimony of this, it is on the main page of my web site: www.LenaNelsonDooley.com.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I finished my first novel in January 1985, but it went through several revisions. I submitted it to a lot of publishers during the next few years, and I learned something from each rejection. The book sold to Heartsong in 1992.

3. How do you handle rejections?
I have to say that God made the first rejection easy for me. I had just been to my first writing seminar, and one of the speakers taught all about rejections. I came home to find my first rejection in the mail that day. I just sat down and thanked the Lord that He went to the trouble to make my first rejection easy to take, because I understood them better.

Now I eat some chocolate, pout a little while, then get back to work. Rejections are just a part of a writer’s life.

4. Why do you write?
The easy answer is, “Because I can’t not write.” I believe God created me to be a writer. When I write, I’m fulfilling my destiny in Him. Now that I’m multi-published, I like to get reader feedback that tells me how one of my stories changed something in their lives. That really spurs me on to write another story that will make an impact on someone.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Actually, I do what I want to in my free time, because writing is my full-time job, so I don’t have to give up my free time to do it as some other authors do.

I like to read, travel, spend time with my husband, spend time with my children and grandchildren. I am also very active in church and helping other authors hone their craft. That gives me real joy.

6. What are you working on right now?
I was working on a proposal for a historical novel for my agent to market, but I had to stop to work on a final edit with a special editor for a book that comes out this fall.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
I’m sure snippets of me creep into my books. They tell us to write what we know, so what I know comes into every book. Sometimes a character will exhibit some of my characteristics, too, but I try to create characters fresh and new for each book.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
Actually, I’ve had two releases in 2007 already. Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner came out in April, and Carolina Carpenter Brides just released.

Spinster Brides takes place in the late 1800s in Arizona. Four friends, of varying ages, work to make life easier for the children in the orphanage sponsored by their church.

My story is The Spinster and the Cowboy. The heroine inherits a large ranch soon after returning from finishing school back East. A year later, a cowboy, who doesn’t fit with her idea of cowboys. She wonders why he’s there. She hopes he doesn’t plan to take her ranch away from her. The other stories are written by Vickie McDonough, Frances Devine, and Jeri Odell.

Carolina Carpenter Brides is a contemporary. All four couples meet in the Hearth & Home superstore.

My story is Can You Help Me? When my heroine approaches an employee to ask questions, the man soon realizes that she’s bitten off more than she can chew. He decides to help her. Their story is complicated by a set of mistaken circumstances that only escalate. The other stories are written by Janet Benrey, Ron Benrey, and Yvonne Lehman.

Of course, several other of my books are also available right now: Pirate’s Prize in both audio and book format, Never Say Never, Minnesota Brothers, Windswept Weddings.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
My best advice for you is to get connected to other writers who can understand you. If you write fiction, join American Christian Fiction Writers. Of course, many of our members also write non-fiction, so that would be good advice for everyone.

Never stop learning your craft. Go to conferences, seminars, or take the online classes offered free to ACFW members.

Get your manuscripts in the best form you can, then submit, submit, submit. The only authors who get published are the ones who submit.

10. How important is faith in your books?
Since the Lord is an integral part of my life, He is an integral part of my stories. However, I never preach. I just show flawed people growing and learning how to deal with the storms in their lives.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
Unforgiveness, rejection, poor self-image, bitterness, salvation, trusting God in everything, nothing is impossible, never say never.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
I usually say the one I’m writing right now. I like all of the stories the Lord gives me. Of course, the whole Minnesota series, repackaged in the Minnesota Brother 4-in-1, are real favorites. I had a lot of fun writing Pirate’s Prize, and it’s been very popular, even reaching #1 on the Christian fiction bestseller list in the UK. I also loved Never Say Never. It shows that sometimes what the Lord plan for us is very different from what we see in our own future. And God’s plan is always best.

13. Which do you like to write more-a historical or a contemporary romance? Why?
Actually, I like to write both. I’m an eclectic reader, and I am an eclectic writer. I’ve written three contemporary Heartsongs and six historical Heartsongs, just because those are the stories the editors were most interested in. I’ve also written three contemporary novellas, and two historical novellas.

Three books were prairie romances, two were westerns, two have been mysteries. I’m all over the charts, but I like that. Readers know to expect a good read no matter whether I write historical or contemporary.

14. What is your writing schedule like?
I am in my home office between six and eight hours at day—four, five, or six days a week. It’s according to what deadlines I have and what else is going on in my life.

15. You are a wonderful speaker. What is your favorite subject to talk on? Why?
Thank you for the compliment. I do like to speak, but I don’t just want to talk about anything. I want to speak on whatever God wants the audience to hear. I always ask the group I’m speaking for what they want to hear, and I do have a list of prepared topics up on my web site. However, I always pray for the group and what I’m going to say to them. Sometimes they get more than they bargained for, because God will lay a subject on my heart for them.

16. What ran through your mind when you won Mentor of the Year for ACFW? By the way, congratulations!
Thank you for the congratulations.

My first thought was, she called my name! Actually, we had just finished a banquet, and I had taken out my makeup bag. I was putting on lipstick. I think I dropped everything on the table. On the way to the stage, I wondered if I had lipstick on my whole mouth. Evidently I did, because the pictures looked good.

The honor humbled me and blessed me. I mentor other writers, because that’s one of God’s calls on my life. Whenever another one signs with an agent or sells a book, I am just as joyful as they are. I thrive on helping them.

I saw the award as God saying to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Thank you, Margaret, for allowing me the privilege to be a visitor on your blog. Your readers might like to come by my blog to read other author interviews, too.