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Monday, October 22, 2007

Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley

Today, I'd like to welcome Lena Nelson Dooley to the KMIS site. Lena is an award-winning author, speaker, and mentor. Here's what Lena had to say.

LISA: What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? In other words, tell us about. . .THE CALL

LENA: Actually, when I sold my first book back in 1992, I made the call, not the editor. I had submitted the full manuscript as requested. I waited about 4 months, then wrote a letter asking about the status. Back then we didn’t use the Internet.

I’m not even sure if it was available to civilians at that time. After not hearing for 2 months, I wrote another letter. After another couple of months, I called the publisher. I had talked to him before about the manuscript. There’s a long story attached to that. When I told him I wanted to know the status of my manuscript, he said, “It’s on the editor’s desk right now.” Then he connected me to her.

She told me it was 10,000 words too long and if I was willing to cut them, she’d issue a contract. I told her I would. That was on a Friday. I worked all week cutting the manuscript, because I thought I’d have to send it in for them to look at before they sent the contract. The contract arrived on the Friday after the call. That’s when I got really excited. I’d waited 8 long years for that.

LISA: What books have you sold since then?

LENA: Readers can go to my web site to see all of them. This mystery/suspense is my 17th book release.

LISA: Tell us some of the background behind Who Am I?.

LENA: My heroine has had a good life. She was an only child of a pastor and his wife. She lost her father before she was an adult. After her mother dies, she finds out that she has a history she never knew about, and much of her life has been based on a lie of omission. This sets up her lack of trust in people and her lack of trust in God.

LISA: I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

LENA: Many of my books have characters with trust issues, either with people or with God. I’ve had a long journey really learning to trust God with everything.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

LENA: God is more interested in the process of the journey, how I grow through it, instead of the final outcome—publication.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

LENA: I believe God is gradually moving me into a different realm of writing. More toward woman’s fiction. Actually, I just want to do everything He has planned for me to accomplish.

LISA: Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

LENA: You will never get published if you don’t submit.

Before you submit, make sure you learn everything you can to sharpen your skills.

Connect with other authors.

LISA: Any writer’s resources you could recommend?

LENA: One of the best resources available for fiction writers is American Christian Fiction Writers. You’ll connect with other authors, editors, and agents.
There are also a lot of books out there. One place to find some of the best writing books is with Writers Digest Book Club.

LISA: What is the process you use when writing a mystery/suspense?

LENA: I’m more or less a seat-of-the-pants writer, but I do have a timeline, which I break into a chapter by chapter synopsis. I make sure there is a proper story arc; faith arc; since this is a romance, a romantic arc; and enough clues and red herrings to carry the mystery and suspense arc.

LISA: What is your system to keep the story organized?

LENA: I use a chapter by chapter synopsis for that. And I keep another file with pertinent information. Just a regular word processor file, nothing special.

LISA: Tell us a bit about the research you had to do for this story?

LENA: Since it’s set in Massachusetts, I did extensive research into Massachusetts, including Boston’s airport, historical sites, Cape Cod, weather, scenery, etc.
Parts of the story take place in other New England states, so I did the same for them.

It helps to have online friends who live in the specific places. Another good way to research an area is to get travel videos from the library as well as wonderful coffee table type books on the area.

I also had to research poisoning and how to rig a . . .oh wait, I don’t want to give too much away, do I?

Thanks so much for stopping by Lena! To win a copy of Who am I? check out our contest page.


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