Monday, August 10, 2009

A Talk with Lena Nelson Dooley

Lena Nelson Dooley is an author, editor, and speaker. Cranberry Hearts is her 20th book release. A full-time writer, she is the president of DFW Ready Writers, the local Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She also has hosted a critique group in her home for over 20 years. Several of the writers she’s mentored have become published authors, too.

Lena lives with the love of her life in North Texas. They love to travel and spend time with family and friends. They’re active church members, where Lena serves in the bookstore, on the Altar Ministry team, and as a volunteer for the Care ministry and Global Ministries.

The Dooley family includes two daughters, their spouses, two granddaughters, two grandsons, and a great-grandson.You can find Lena at several places on the Internet:, and her monthly newsletter is at: You can also visit her on Shoutlife, Facebook, and Twitter.

SKC: So glad you have come by, Lena. I noticed you focus on what you call “Characters that grip the heart.” Tell us how you were inspired by your particular idea, and how you are able to make your characters do just that in your work.

LND: I love creating well-rounded characters with real problems and quirks that make them more human. The reason I chose that phrase for my brand is that readers kept telling me that they didn’t want to let go of the characters in my books when the book ended.

SKC: A great way to focus! What do you think makes your writing unique?

LND: Every author develops his or her own unique voice. That’s what sets books apart. Readers seem to like my voice. They have compared my writing to that of Tracie Peterson and Lauraine Snelling. I always welcome that as a compliment.

SKC: That would be a great compliment; I agree. When you are coming up with your storyline do you outline or put together a skeleton, or are you more of a seat-of-the-pants writer?

LND: I call myself a “souped-up, seat-of-the-pants writer.” What I mean by that is that I do have a timeline of what has to happen when, so it’s an outline. Most of it is in my head. I have been known to do a chapter-by-chapter outline, but it’s only a couple of paragraphs per chapter. That way I can be really creative as I write.

SKC: What sort of self-promotion do you do, and how do you make it work for you in a positive


LND: I’m a speaker, and I promote books through that. I also do book signings. I’m really big on Internet promotion. I host a blog where I interview other authors with their latest releases, but I also feature my books when they come out. In addition, I’m on Shoutlife, Facebook, and Twitter (lenandooley). I also have an Official Fan Page on Facebook. I’d welcome your readers to come by and become a Fan:

SKC: How do you keep from becoming repetitious in your writing, Lena?

LND: An author has to work hard to be creative in word choices. However, I love putting different and sometimes unusual combinations together to say just the right thing.

SKC: That's part of the fun isn't it. What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned since becoming a published writer?

LND: That God is in control of my writing. I can depend on Him to take care of helping me make the right contacts.

SDC: Amen to that! We are looking forward to the book you plan to donate to one of our visitors. I’d like to ask the readers what draws them to purchase a particular book, but first I’ll ask you, Lena.

LND: I really like a cover that catches my eye, making me want to pick the book up. Also an intriguing title will draw me every time. Then I read the back cover copy, and if I find that interesting, I read the first page.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THAT AND FOR VISITING WITH US, LENA. I would appreciate you leaving us with where we can find you and learn more specifics about your books.

LND: All my books can be found on my web site:

Okay, readers and fellow writers. What draws you to purchase a particular book? Send in your comments, and one of you will be a winner of one of Lena's books.

Thanks everyone.

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Congratulations to Jeanette Levellie of Illinois! You have just won Lena's book! Watch for it soon. And thank you so much for taking some time at A Pen for Your Thoughts.




  1. What draws me:
    1. Writer name recognition
    2. Reviews
    3. Sometimes the picture on the book
    4. Interviews
    5. Historicals, mysteries, suspense, and love inspired historicals.
    6. Adventurous to try a new genre
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  2. I usually go to the book section that I am interested in, from there I am drawn to the cover first, then I read the description of the story.

  3. First of all, I devour CBD's fiction catalogs. Between that and Christian blogs, I've discovered many great books and authors.

    I am drawn to certain types of books - relationship drama, romance, cozy mystery, and historical, for instance - so I always check out authors in those genres, both established and new.

    Christian fiction books have some of the best covers I've ever seen, so they can also be a draw.

    That was a fun question. And I'd love to read Cranberry Hearts, so thank you for the giveaway.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  4. There are several things that draw me to a book. I am on ACFW group and when I see a blog out about a book or author, I will definitely read that. Also devour any catalogs talking about books. If I am visiting a book store, a cover will draw me to the book and than what the book is about. I also am always checking to see if new books are out by authors that I am familiar with and whose books I enjoy reading.


  5. Glad you came by the blog. Some of you are familiar to me.

    I like a cover that jumps out at you and says, "Choose me!!" That makes me pick up the book and read the back cover copy. Then I read the first page

  6. Thank you for this great interview!

    What draws me to purchase a book is first, the title. Because I love words, a catchy title seems to promise a great read. Then, the cover. Lots of color, and an intriguing snippet of the story.
    Would love you to enter my name in the drawing; thank you!

  7. Sorry to take so long to come back. I'm really busy writing a contracted book and planning my husband's surprise birthday celebration.

  8. Hi Lena,

    I follow your blog - and enjoy it very much. I'm new to ACFW and I'm having a ball. I've taken some of the classes and I have a WIP. I've learned so much from joining. Usually I choose the genre that I enjoy most, then I go by author or title or even the book cover. Just whatever catches my eye. Keep up the good work and I will continue to learn.
    Deborah M

  9. I am enjoying these comments so much. Keep em coming! We all learn a lot by seeing what others look for in a book...before they turn the first page.

    Good to see your faces and names. It was a joy interviewing Lena. Tell your friends to come by if they haven't yet. I always love what other authors and readers have to say.

    As far as what I look for...
    I first find the genre I'm interested in. Then I see what the back blurb says. Then I see what others are writing about it. And I go from there. Anymore, I don't rely on the covers, because you can't always guarantee what the cover artist is going to put there depending on your publisher.


  10. The Genre, the book cover art, book blurb on the back, the author all cause me to take a moment and see if I might like to read the book.


  11. I usually have a recommendation from someone else or from a blog or online review. Then I read the back cover blurb. Although I will admit a great cover draws me in at the store. :)