The first year I seriously began writing fiction, I attended my first writer’s conference. There I roomed with Lena Dooley–a gift from God. Lena’s been a dear friend and mentor to me since then. As the Lord would have it, my first book contract came in a three book proposal with Lena and Lisa Harris, two of my closest writing friends.
I’m honored to interview her today. The first book in our Massachusetts Weddings series releases this month with Heartsong Presents–Who Am I? By Lena Nelson Dooley.
BG: Tell us about your life, where you grew up, your interests and hobbies.
LD: I lived in Arkansas until I was 20 years old. My family moved to Texas, and when they moved on to another state, I stayed. My father was a fish culturist—one of the foremost authorities on raising channel catfish. So I spent most of my formative years out in the country on fish farms.
BG: Tell us about your writing journey.
LD: God told me to become a professional writer in 1984. You can read the testimony on the main page of my web site. www.lenanelsondooley.com I finished my first novel in January 1985. It took until 1992 to get it published. During that time I was learning a lot. Since 1992, I’ve had 15 book releases.
LD: I’ve learned from so many people, it would be hard to name them, but my greatest influence is the Lord. He’s led me every step of the way.
BG: What is your favorite movie?
LD: I love romantic movies, and I love princess movies. The Princess Bride, Ever After, Cinderella (the multi-cultural one)
BG: How do you write in so many different genres?
LD: God gave me an imagination that takes me lots of places. I know that many people write in only one genre that fits their brand. My brand is: Characters Who Grip Your Heart. That’s why writing different genres works for me.
BG: Tell us about your latest book.
LD: Who Am I? is a contemporary romance with a touch of suspense. The heroine finds out after her mother dies that many things she’d been told all her life weren’t necessarily true. She goes on a search to find out who she really is.
BG: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?
LD: So many people try to gain their worth from so many external things. However, it’s only when we know who God created us to be that we truly have worth.
BG: You have 17 book releases now. Which is your favorite and why?
LD: I’ve been asked this before. I’ve laughingly answered, “The one I’m working on right now.” It’s hard for me to choose. I love the series repackaged as Minnesota Brothers. The ideas for some of the stories came from my family background. And writing Pirate’s Prize was so much fun. The book has been out over two years and is still going strong. All of the novella collections have been fun, especially the new one Montana Mistletoe which is my first Christmas collection.
BG: What are your future writing plans?
LD: I was at the ACFW national conference in September. My husband and I went out to eat with my agent, and Joyce and I discussed where we will go from here. I’m going to be branching out even more. A women’s fiction, another historical series, a cozy mystery, and other things. I’m excited about the future.
BG: What does your typical day look like?
LD: I like to spend at least six to eight hours a day at the computer writing. I do that four, five, or six days a week, according to whether I have a deadline or not. When I don’t, I have a little freedom to do other things—do things with daughters or granddaughters, meet friends for lunch, things like that.
BG: What tips do you believe are the most important writing tips?
LD: If you are a writer, you should write. That’s what writers do. Of course, I believe it is essential that a writer read. Read the kind of books you want to write, so you can see what is being published. Connect with other authors and learn all you can from them. I often point a beginning writer to American Christian Fiction Writers. There’s so much help available through this organization.
BG: Any marketing tips?
LD: Marketing is another facet of the author’s life. It’s important that the author partner with their publisher and even establish a presence of their own. I highly recommend the Internet. That’s where so many go these days. Start a blog that does something, not just random thoughts. Give the readers a reason to return and bring their friends. Join an online community. I write Christian fiction, so I’ve joined Shoutlife.com. But joining is not enough. Actively seek to add to your friends list. Then when you have an announcement, lots of people see it.
BG: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?
LD: I believe that God creates people to be writers. If you can connect words to make interesting sentences and articles or stories, God created you to be a writer. He does want you to learn the skills that make your words more powerful. In Second Timothy 2:15, we’re told, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Every writer/author needs to do that.
Thank you, Beth for having me. I’d like to invite your readers to not only visit my web site, but to also come by http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com where I interview other authors about their books and www.shoutlife.com/lenanelsondooley where I blog book reviews.
Thanks so much Lena!
If you’d like to be entered in a drawing to win Lena’s book Who Am I? released this October, please comment.