I’d like to introduce my client, Dorothy Clark. Dottie and I have been on this publishing journey together since November 2002. She has published exclusively for Steeple Hill and has done six books for them. Her first book, Hosea’s Bride was published in 2004 and sold 270,000 copies. Even though Hosea’s Bride was a contemporary story, her expertise is writing Historical Fiction. She recently won two awards: the National Readers’ Choice Award, Inspirational, for Family of the Heart and best short historical for this title in the ACFW Book of the Year contest. Soon we will be negotiating for a new 2 or 3 book contract with Steeple Hill, which makes us both happy.
Dorothy, you have a unique attitude about writing books. Tell us how you feel about your writing and how you get your plots and stories.
Because of the way I became a writer, I feel my writing is a calling, a ministry for the Lord. The books I write are His books, not mine. And I trust Him to do with them what He will. I get my plots and stories from Him; sometimes as an answer to prayer, and other times as a lovely, unexpected gift. I do not write stories that do not come from Him. Once I submit the story, I listen carefully to my editors and work with them to make the books the best they can be. My editors at Steeple Hill have never asked me to change or delete any of the spiritual truth in the books. I'm blessed the Lord led me to Steeple Hill.
From the beginning you’ve wanted to write for Steeple Hill, why is that?
For each book, I pray the Lord will give me the message of truth He desires to share. And that the book will bear "fruit" for Him. Steeple Hill (Inspirational arm of Harlequin) has huge distribution—they are the largest romance publisher in the world, and that distribution embraces both the secular and the Christian markets. I want to share God's love with those who do not yet know Him. I believe that is why the Lord placed me with Steeple Hill.
What led you to the career choice of becoming an author?
It was not my choice. I was sitting in church one Sunday when a visiting pastor said, "The Lord would have you write down everything He gives you." I was excited because I thought it had to do with my teaching in a Christian school. A couple weeks later a sentence about a woman holding on to the sideboard of a wagon came into my head. I ignored it, but it did not go away. So, one day I wrote it down. That act of obedience opened a floodgate. Words poured into my head. I wrote them down as fast as I could. By the end of three pages I realized I was writing a story! That story became my first published historical, Beauty for Ashes. I've been writing ever since. So, one word of advice...don't ever assume you know what God is going to do. I had no idea...
How do you do the research for your books?
When possible, I travel to the place where the story is located to learn about the locale. Since I write historicals things are very different than when my stories take place, but the land, rivers, mountains, etc. are the same. And I buy books. I do use the internet when necessary, but I prefer a book in my hand. The information I need for my historicals does not change, and with a book I learn more than only the specific bit of information I was seeking.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, let's see...I am a wife, mother and grandmother. I love God, my family, America, and happy endings. Oh, and potato chips. Forget the candy, give me something salty and crunchy! I do not like unhappy stories, and do not read them for entertainment. If I want unhappy, all I have to do is listen to the news.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently writing the third book in a series of four historicals based on the, now adult, daughters in my first two historicals, Beauty for Ashes and Joy for Mourning. The first two books are titled Family of the Heart and The Law and Miss Mary.
What has been the hardest part of writing your books?
Finding the time to write. Life happens...
What do you hope people will take away from your books?
A warm, satisfied feeling. A wish that the book had been longer. And a deeper sense of God's love for them.
What is the best writing advice you ever got?
Well, my agent, a very savvy lady, once told me, "Keep doing what you're doing. It works!" Sound familiar, Joyce? It turns out she was right. The worst? I have no answer for this one. I live in the hills, there are not many people around to give me advice.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Only one thing, about writing or life in general—If God speaks, be obedient. You never know where He will lead you...
Thank you Dorothy – it is a blessing to work with you.
Until next time,