Lena, you have a unique story about why you write Christian fiction. Will you share that with our readers?
When I first started writing Christian fiction, it was so my daughters could have decent fiction to read. But the more I wrote, the more I loved it. Then in 1984, God spoke to me three separate times in one week, telling me that He wanted me to write fiction. I have the long version of the story on the bottom of the main page of my web site – www.lenanelsondooley.com .
I now know that God created me to be a writer in this season of my life. He placed within me the talents and called them forth in His timing.
ACFW has been important in your life, in fact you are a charter member. You won an award a couple years ago for Mentor of the Year. How has ACFW helped your writing career?
Actually, I’m almost a charter member. I believe ACFW stated in February, and I joined in May. My membership number is 42. I love ACFW. I did sell my first book before joining, but through this organization, I have grown as a writer, learning how to fine tune my work. The online classes offered free to members are wonderful as are the national conferences where we learn as well as network with industry professionals. I actually met Joyce, my agent, at the first ACFW national conference.
I’ve become friends with authors, editors, and other agents through this organization. And we get the lowdown on what’s happening in the industry as soon as the information is available.
You are an encourager and a mentor to many authors. And you have a critique group that meets in your home. Tell us how you find time to help others so much.
I consider what I do to help other authors as being a tithe of my time. Since God gave me the talents and abilities, by helping others, I’m giving back to Him and helping build the kingdom through fiction. There are a lot of people who will pick up an interesting book and read it but won’t really listen to a sermon in church. The novels illustrate how God works in our lives instead of preaching to readers.
Your blog is one of the most popular among Christian writers – give us your blog address and tell us what you offer to the writers. Why do you think it’s so popular?
Actually, the blog is really popular among readers, too. That’s what’s important. The blog is aimed at readers, introducing new books to them:
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t have more than 3 or 4 people a month come to the blog. Then I asked God if I should be blogging, and if I should what should I do. God told me to lift up other authors and promote their work, and He would promote my work.
On the blog, I interview the authors so readers can connect to them. We always give away a free copy of the book. I believe I was the first Christian blogger to do that. Readers are drawn to the free book but then they keep coming back, because they love getting to know the authors as well. I often receive messages from readers telling me how much they love my interviews.
Publishing companies and literary publicists as well as authors have recognized the power of my blog. Many of them contact me with their new releases. I have it down to a science, and it usually only takes me less than half an hour a day to maintain.
Do you think these social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are important for a writer’s career? Explain.
Yes. I am on Facebook with both a profile page and an Official Fan Page. I also have a Shoutlife page. Shoutlife is like a Christian Facebook. I’m also on Twitter.
We need to use these social networking sites to connect to readers, but as an author, I’ve learned to limit the amount of time spent on the sites, but maximize the impact.
Tell us about your current projects.
Right now, I’m finishing writing a novel for Summerside Press – Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico. I love this book, and I’m really excited about the May release.
I also have several other projects that we’re marketing right now – a women’s fiction, a three-book historical series, etc.
What do you hope people will take away from your work?
I want them to see that no matter what is happening in their lives, God is there with them. If they are fearful, He will provide them hope. If they feel unloved, He will provide love. If they don’t have a good self-image, He will show them how He sees them. If they have gotten themselves into a dark hole, there’s no pit so keep that He can’t lift them from it.
What has been the hardest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your career?
When I first started writing novels, I really didn’t know that much about things like point of view or showing versus telling. I was a storyteller. But I’ve learned through writing and taking workshops and classes. I hope to always be learning something else about writing, since the market is always changing.
One thing that I had to learn was to realize I needed to trust God to take care of my writing career. If He wants a particular publisher to buy a manuscript, that editor will buy it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I love my readers. They are who I tell the stories for. I want them to be able to put a book down and smile, because even though there were tough times, the ending brought hope. I want them to love my characters so much that they seem like real people to them.