Friday, December 21, 2007

Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley

Caroline: How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?

Lena: I thought writing was a part of life. I didn’t know everyone wasn’t a writer until I married a man who didn’t read or write. He wasn’t illiterate, he just didn’t like to read or write. He is now a reader, but still not a writer. He’s read almost all my books.

Montana Mistletoe

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

Lena: Actually, so far all of my books have been Christian romance, but they are vastly different. I’ve had some prairie romances, a mystery, a suspense, a pirate book, a couple of westerns, and other among all my books. Some are historical, some contemporary.

Caroline: How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

Lena: Actually, I spend at least 6 hours a day at the computer—5 or six days a week, according to what projects and deadlines I have. Of course, some of that time is spent on research or planning. I don’t have a specific word count goal. I figure out how much I need to write to meet a deadline and follow that schedule.

So far, I’ve only written Heartsongs and novellas. So the novels have been 45,000-55,000 words. I like to have three months for a Heartsong, but I have written a couple of them in 6 weeks.

For the novellas, which are around 20,000 words, I like to have at least six weeks, but have written a couple of them in only a month.

These times include the first drafts, editing, getting critiques, and final editing.

Caolina Carpenter Brides

Caroline: What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

Lena: In my most recent book, Who Am I?, that God has a plan for our lives, even when it doesn’t seem that way, when hard things happen that we don’t understand. We still have to trust Him and allow Him to work things out for our good.

Caroline: You recently had another book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

: The book before that was a novella collection written by Lisa Harris, Kim Sawyer, Debbie Mayne, and myself. It’s about four friends who made a pact when they were in college to be married by the time they were 28 years old. It’s the year of the 28th birthdays, and none of them really have any possibility of marriage.

The stories show how God can give you the desires of your heart in ways you never expected.

Heartsong novels take longer to get to bookstores. They come out in the book club first. However, you can order any of them through .

The novella collections are in most Christian bookstores as well as many regular bookstores. And all the books are available online through .

Pirates Prize

Caroline: Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?

Lena: I believe that God gives me the ideas. Often characters give me their names. If I need a particular type of name, such as a female Swedish name in 1890, I use name databases on the Internet.

There have been times that some of my characters are similar to me in certain ways, but I’ve written so many books now, the readers would be bored if all the characters were like me.

Caroline: Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?

Lena: Yes, I’ve been discouraged. It’s usually because of outside influences, such as an injury that holds me down or something like that. The discouragement that I feel when I receive a rejection or a lot of rewrites from an editor is fleeting. It’s just part of the job. I’ve learned not to let it get me down very long.

But I won’t give up. I’m actually doing the very thing God created me to do at this point in my life. When I got discouraged not long ago, He sent someone to get me over that discouragement. If your readers want to know about this event, they can go to my web site and read about it in the December newsletter.

Gerda's Lawman

Caroline: Would you roughly explain how you “chose” (or was chosen) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

Lena: Actually, you don’t choose a publisher, the publisher chooses you by seeing your proposal and liking it. An author should study the markets and find out what various publishers want before they submit anything. A good way to do that is through connection with other authors. I highly recommend American Christian Fiction Writers for people who write novels.

Actually, now I don’t do any of the submitting of my work. I have an agent, and she knows who to target with my proposals. She has two different proposals out now that are for much larger books than I have done before.

Caroline: Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could? Etc.

Lena: I do like to travel. I’ve been to several states in the US, to various parts of Mexico, to Guatemala, and to islands in the Caribbean. My husband and I want to go to Alaska and Hawaii sometime. I’d even like to go to Europe and Australia.

I like to read, knit, crochet, watch movies with my husband, spend time with our extended family, and get together with friends.

Double Deception

Caroline: Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?

Lena: I’ve already listed my web site, but I have a blog that is very popular, because I interview other authors about their book releases. It helps readers get to know the authors.

If your readers want to see into my life, I also have a blog of slideshows about my writing and my personal life.

And I’m a part of Shoutlife, the Christian online community.

Thanks, Lena!

Christmas hints:
  • The best way to get free Christmas cards is to make them yourself. Or if you have them left over from last year, in a sense you can use them again for free!
  • If making your own cards, then use a nice quality paper - ideally something more like card than paper so that it has the strength to stand up rather than fall over too easily.
  • The pattern that you draw on is entirely up to you, but you might consider downloading some nice Christmas clipart off the internet and then printing out onto the paper, or alternatively even doing the whole card on the computer.
  • Ensure that you personalise and sign a card by hand if you do make it on the computer however; that personal touch is all important with a Christmas card!

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. --Charles Dickens



Belinda said...

Thank you for the package!! I received it today...

That was a great interview!!

Caroline said...

You're welcome! Hope you enjoy the book!

Break Time!

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