Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lena Nelson Dooley's "Mary's Blessing"

We're happy to have Lena Nelson Dooley with us. Please read on to find out more about Lena and her writing.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, where you live, etc.
I live in Texas with the love of my life. We’ve been married for almost 48 years. We love to spend time with our family. And travel. And minister together.

2. Tell us about your call to write in the Christian arena. When you are actually writing, do you have a real sense of God’s presence or is it more “nuts and bolts” writing for you? (I’m not sure either answer is right or wrong.)
Your readers can read the testimony of how God told me to become a professional writer on the main page of my web site. It’s an interesting testimony. – http://www.lenanelsondooley.com/

I do sense God with me when I write. And I feel him when I’m mulling over the story and planning chapters. And He has even changed the direction of a scene when I was at the computer writing it. This change has affected many people’s lives. They’ve let me know.

3. Do you consider yourself a Christian who writes good fiction or a writer who writes good Christian fiction?
I’m a Christian who writes good fiction. But I cannot write a story without including the all-important spiritual thread in it. The lack of one has caused me to quit reading fiction that’s not Christian. Even after reading a good story, I come away feeling as if something’s missing.

4. I’m always interested in the everyday life of a writer. What is your schedule? And what are you usually wearing when you are writing?
I spend at least 6 hours at the computer—4, 5, or 6 days a week, according to when my deadline is. I start out in my pajamas in the morning, but by mid-morning, I’m fully dressed and go to my office as I would if it were in another building, instead of my home.

5. Name five of your favorite things and five pet peeves.
I love my family, good friends, dark chocolate, writers who understand me, and learning new things.

I don’t like for people to have a closed mind, for people to take advantage of others, for someone to be dishonest in any way, clothing sizes that aren’t really standardized, and being out in the heat.

6. When did you first realize that God was real? I’m not asking about your salvation experience, but when God first invaded your consciousness and you realized that He was more than just a religious concept.
I don’t know a time in my life that I didn’t know that God is real. I was raised in a strong Christian home, so God was part of our everyday life.

7. Now, tell us about when you came to Jesus and totally committed everything you knew about yourself to everything you knew about Him … where, when, how.
I was in my late 20s when I had a special dynamic experience that took me beyond just being saved to really walking daily with Jesus and letting his Holy Spirit direct my path. At a Spiritual Life Retreat in West Texas, for the first time, all the speakers were really walking with Him. They caught my attention and held it (which was a feat in itself). I came away from there with a new awareness of what it really meant to live the “abundant life.”

8. What has been your toughest walk of faith?
I’ve been through a lot of hard times: caring for invalid parents, almost losing my husband to death, and many more, but I never lost faith in the One who holds me in His hands. I think my hardest year was the year when God had told me to leave a good job and work at home writing. I knew that He told me, but there were times that I wanted to take some matters in my own hands. I had a lot of “Are you going to trust Me?” moments that year. Then in the last year and half, I’ve experienced several health issues. They really turn me closer to God.

9. What went into your decision to write in your particular genre/time period?
Actually, if you look at my body of work, you’ll see that I’ve been published in several time periods and different genres. But all my works have a romantic element. I believe the motto God gave me says it all. Characters Who Grip Your Heart

Readers know that whether I’m writing contemporary or historical, straight romance, mystery, suspense, western. No matter what book they pick up of mine will have that kind of characters.

10. Do you read the reviews that are written about your book(s)? Do you believe and/or take to heart the reviews that are written about your book(s)?
If I know about them, I do like to read the reviews, but just to get a feel of what readers see in my books. I don’t take the really good ones too seriously, and I don’t let the not so good ones hurt my feelings. (There have been far fewer of them anyway.)

11. What is the message you hope people gain from reading your book(s)?
God has a plan for your life. You can either walk in His plan, or you can get off course. But He’s always waiting to help you get back on the right path.

12. What do you like to read? What is in your “stack to be read” right now?
I have three large bookcase sections of to-be-read books. I pick out one according to my whim-of-the-day. I love historicals and mysteries, suspense, romance, adventure.

13. What do you like most about being an author? The least?
The actual writing. I love to write and craft an interesting story. The thing I probably like the least is the solitude. Writing is a solitary thing. Every once in while, I have to break loose and just have a day out with friends.

14. What motivates your writing?
God created me to write, so I write. I love to write a story that can change lives and at the same time entertain.

15. Being an author brings opportunities to speak to different groups—book clubs, workshops, conferences. Do you enjoy public speaking or does it frighten you?
With a degree in Speech and Drama, I enjoy public speaking.

16. If you could shout something to the heavens, and not care who heard you, what would you shout?

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 690,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers http://www.acfw.com/ and the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s a member of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with eighteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers, and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books.

Her 2010 release was Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, from Summerside Press which recently won the Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western literature for fiction. Lena is currently under two 3-book contracts with Charisma House/Realms. The first book released in October 2011. Maggie’s Journey appeared on a reviewers Top Books of 2011 list. The second is Mary’s Blessing, which will release in May 2012.

In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally. She is also one of the co-hosts of the Gate Beautiful blog radio show.

Lena has an active web presence on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books.

Website: http://www.lenanelsondooley.com/
Blog: http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lenandooley  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lena.nelson.dooley
Official Fan Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Lena-Nelson-Dooley/42960748768?ref=ts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/333031.Lena_Nelson_Dooley

Info about book:
Mary’s Blessing, book 2 McKenna’s Daughters series
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1616386177
ISBN-13: 978-1616386177

When her mother dies, Mary Lenora must grow up quickly to take care of her brothers and sisters. Can love help her to shoulder the burden?

Mary Lenora Caine knows she is adopted. As she was growing up, her mother called her “God’s blessing.” But now that she’s gone, Mary no longer feels like any kind of blessing. Her father, in his grief, has cut himself off from the family, leaving the running of the home entirely in Mary’s hands.

As she nears her eighteenth birthday, Mary can’t see anything in her future but drudgery. Then her childhood friend Daniel begins to court her, promising her a life of riches and ease. But her fairy-tale dreams turn to dust when her family becomes too much for Daniel, and he abandons her in her time of deepest need.

Will Daniel come to grips with God’s plan for him? And if he does return, can Mary trust that this time he will really follow through?

We're happy to have Valerie Comer with us today talking about "Topaz Treaasure." Leave her a comment with your email address to register to win a copy and if you've not done so, please place your email address in the feedburner box to the right to get weekly emails about giveaways. To learn more about Valerie and Topaz Treasure, read on!

Title: My story is called "Topaz Treasure," and it's the first novella in a 4-in-1 contemporary romance book called Rainbow's End.

Publisher: Barbour Publishing.

Cover blurb: The collection blurb is "Four young women find unexpected gifts on a geocaching adventure in the Missouri Ozarks wilderness—but will they lead to happiness or heartbreak?"

My novella blurb is "Lyssa Quinn volunteers at the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt hoping she'll have the nerve to point folks to the true treasure found in Jesus. She’s not expecting her former prof to be there, too. Kirk Kennedy’s treasure hunt takes him down a path he hadn’t intended when he is captivated by Lyssa’s intriguing sparkle. Can he convince Lyssa that there is more than one kind of treasure? Can Lyssa remind him of the greatest prize of all?"

1) How did this story come to you?
Ever since my husband and I started geocaching about four years ago, I toyed with the idea of writing a contemporary romance with that backdrop. The specific story of Lyssa is partly grounded in my own (aren't they all?) in that Lyssa needs boldness to share her faith.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
This is my first and, so far, only publishing credit. I saw Barbour's call for anthology proposals in December 2010 and began brainstorming with my friend Nicole O'Dell about what we could put together. Once we had the framework of the geocaching event in place, we pulled in Cara and Annalisa to begin developing our individual stories. "The Call" was actually an email, and it came about two weeks after we'd submitted the proposal. Barbour allowed me a bit of time to get an agent. Once I'd signed with Joyce Hart, Barbour issued the contract and I was able to share my exciting news with everyone!

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1. My family runs an apiary with about 70 beehives in our 'spare time.'
2. I wrote 9 novels over 9 years before signing the novella contract with Barbour.
3. I write at my day job, a small-town flooring shop, and my bosses don't even care.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
My agent and I have several proposals out at the moment. While we wait for word, I'm continuing to write the remainder of one of the proposed books.

5) Parting comments?
As one of the many authors writing for Barbour's Romancing America line, I've started a website and blog to promote all the books in the series. Right now we're just finishing up 4 weeks of historical romance with The Quakers of New Garden and its authors. Next week we start talking about Rainbow's End. Come join us at http://romancingamerica.com.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet? Connect at:
• Website: http://valeriecomer.com/
• Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/valeriecomer.author
• Twitter: http://twitter.com/valeriecomer
• Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/valeriecomer
• Blog: http://valeriecomer.com/blog
• Blog: http://romancingamerica.com/