Monday, August 31, 2009

Come Say Hello to Marcia with Me!

Meet Marcia Gruver...

Marcia is a full-time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, she delights in writing historical fiction. Marcia’s deep south-central roots lend a southern-comfortable style and touch of humor to her writing. Through her books, she hopes to leave behind a legacy of hope and faith. When she’s not plotting stories about God’s grace, Marcia spends her time reading, playing video games, or taking long drives through the Texas hill country. She and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with eleven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter—so far.

SKC: You hail from Texas I see. What around your community inspires you into picking up your pen and begin writing?

MG: That’s the fun part. Though I could never tap out the rich history of my immediate community, I have the great big state of Texas to draw on for ideas. The word “grandeur” may have been overused to describe the vast Texas landscape, but it doesn’t do justice when used to tell of the remarkable lives of our citizens. I doubt I’d ever be at a loss for great Texas-based story ideas. That said, I have a new series in mind that begins outside our borders and wends its way back to Texas by book three. It took quite a historical event to lure me outside my state—even for a couple of books—and it’s a story I look forward to writing.

SKC: I like the way you speak about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the writing of a Christian. What would you describe the moral premise of each of your stories, or with each book, how does it differ?

MG: In my Texas Fortunes Series (Diamond Duo, Chasing Charity, and Emmy’s Equal), all three books focus on forgiveness, feelings of unworthiness, and on God’s miraculous power to transform our lives. My next series will follow the same themes, but I sense a shift toward emphasizing God’s provision for his children in the here and now. However, since I haven’t finished writing the books, and because I try so hard to allow the Spirit to lead, this information is subject to change without notice.

SKC: I know you write full time. How disciplined are you each day, Marcia, and when did you begin to take it seriously?

MG: It’s remarkable how disciplined a formally undisciplined person becomes when faced with a deadline. I understand contracts are rather binding, so it takes the decision about whether or not to work right out of my hands. A contract will cause you to take writing very seriously. You do whatever it takes in the time you have to get the job done. Having recently turned in the last of a three book series, I took a few weeks off from meeting word counts and pages per day quotas, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. Unfortunately, I suspect my little vacation will be short lived, and I’m praying for a double-dose of discipline to get me back on track.

SKC: How right you are. Okay, on another note, what are some favorite writings that you use to help you in your craft?

MG: I’ve heard authors caution against reading too much in your own genre, thereby reducing the risk of unconsciously plagiarizing, but I draw great insight from reading the skillful works of my peers. I have a large library of other historical authors—some of which I’ve read multiple times—yet I can safely say my books are wholly my own. For me, reading well-written books inspire me and spur me on to greater things.

SKC: I agree completely. What do you do when you are not writing, Marcia?

MG: I used to give my pat answer about video games and long drives in the country (see bio above). Lately I seem to be entering a new season, and my days are spent contemplating my future as an author and seeking God’s will for my life. I guess you might say I’m finally growing up a bit. But not too much!

SKC: It's an ongoing process, isn't it. I'm curious. Why did you select Barbour or did they select you?

MG: My association with Barbour was a mutual decision. At the same time I was actively pursuing them as my publisher, they offered me a three-book contract at the 2007 ACFW conference in Dallas. I admire Barbour for their strict moral code and unwavering Christian ethics, and I look forward to a long association with them.

SKC: Sounds like a great company. What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer?

MG: I’ll give you three:

1. It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies. Writing is very hard work.

2. With God’s help I can do anything I set my mind to do. People used to say this to me, and it sounded like a tired cliché, but no more. If an old gal like me can decide to write a book then wind up writing and publishing series of books, anything is possible.

3. People still read. . .and not just those who can’t afford cable. There are warm, kind-hearted, super-intelligent readers out there who are buying and devouring books. Literacy is alive and well in the USA!

SDC: Those are all equally important; I agree. What is next on the horizon for you, Marcia?

MG: Emmy’s Equal, the final book of the Texas Fortunes series, debuts in early October, so I’ll soon be packing my suitcase and traveling to book signings and other promotional events across the country. Also, I’ve broadly hinted at an upcoming three-book series. It’s still under wraps, but I’ll be making an official announcement soon. Very exciting stuff!

SDC: This has been a delightful conversation, I'm sure the readers will think so too. Tell us what question you have for the Pen for Your Thought readers, other authors, and aspiring authors. Something that will get us to thinking.

MG: With the astounding popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, what do you believe is the most compelling factor in the books? In other words, with lines forming across the nation to purchase these books and/or see the movies, what do you think is the reason for the magnetic draw?

SDC: Tell us about the book you want to donate to one of our readers, and where can we reach you.

MG: In celebration of my upcoming release, I can donate a copy of the first two books in the series: Diamond Duo and Chasing Charity. My website:

And you can order my books at,,, and most other online bookstores. You can also find my books at retail outlets such as Barnes & Noble and most Walmart stores. For an autographed copy, please visit .

Thanks so much for coming by, Marcia. And everyone who stops by, don't forget to send in your thoughts regarding Marcia's unusual question. Hope you win her books!

I have the winner!!! Congratulations to Edna Tollison of South Carolina. Your book is on its way!

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.