Nelson Dooley chose to obey God and follow His leadership into a
full-time writing career. Since that time, she has published more than
ten titles and has more than 675,000 copies in print! In addition to
writing full time, Lena enjoys traveling with her husband, visiting her
daughters and their families, and mentoring others who are pursuing
publication. Lena enjoys serving God through the written word, and she
recently has been blessed with multiple book contracts.
about your writing journey. How/when did you finally become a full-time
In May of 1984, God used several
events one week in May to let me know that He wanted me to become a
professional author. My testimony of how that happened can be found by
going to my blog, http://www.lenanelsondooley.com,
then clicking on the About Me tab at the top of the page. For the next
eighteen years, God taught me a lot. It took eight of those years
before Heartsong Presents published my first novel, Home to
Her Heart. I did, however, make a living much of the time by
writing for companies or a church. Then ten years later, my second
novel, The Other Brother, released. Before the end
of that calendar year, I was able to quit my job as an administrative
assistant at a church to pursue writing full time.
written different types of books, but historical fiction seems to
dominate your style. Is that your favorite genre?
I do love writing historicals,
but I have written both contemporary and historical novels. It was
according to which proposals the publishers bought. Currently I’m in
two three-book contracts with Realms/Charisma Media, and all six of
those books are historical.
Tell us about
your favorite story, both one you have written and one you have read.
My answer to this question is
usually whichever I’m writing/reading right now. I loved doing my
Minnesota Brothers series, because elements of the first book came from
my family’s history. And writing Pirate’s Prize was
a lot of fun, but then so was Never Say Never, a
contemporary novel that I call my cruise novel. Of course, I loved Love
Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, and it did win the Will
Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in Western fiction. Now with the
McKenna’s Daughters series, the stories have been percolating in my
mind for several years. Writing them is a real thrill.
Now about reading. I have
eclectic tastes in reading material. My
all-time favorite is Redeeming Love by Francine
Rivers. But then there are the books Dan Walsh has written, and Jim
Rubart’s books, and Brandilyn Collins’s suspense books—books by Susan
Page Davis, Lynne Gentry, Ronie Kendig, Vickie McDonough, Loree Lough,
Deeanne Gist, Lisa Wingate. I could go on for a long time naming
authors I like to read.
describe your typical writing day? What is your favorite part of the
process? Your least favorite?
I have an office in my home. I
spend at least six hours, five or six days a week in there at the
computer. It’s according to how much marketing I need to do and how
close my next deadline is. I love to write. It’s what God created me to
do at this season in my life. I guess my least favorite part is tight
deadlines. But I’ve learned to deal with them, no matter what else is
happening in my life.
You often talk
about your love for travel. Do you gain ideas as you travel? Where is
your favorite destination?
Yes, every trip, no matter where
I go, is a research trip. I take notes and photographs. I never know
when I’ll use the information in a novel. I sometimes go to used
bookstores in the area and buy old books written about that area. I
also watch people, and they spark ideas for stories. I loved traveling
in the Caribbean, in Mexico, in Guatemala, and across the United
States, but I really want to go to Hawaii and Australia then maybe
Scandinavian countries where my ancestors lived.
What event in
your life has most impacted your writing career?
Actually, my marriage. James and
I are exact opposites. His strengths are my weaknesses, and my
strengths are his weaknesses. I believe God planned it that way. We
complete each other in so many ways. When God told me to become a
professional writer, James understood immediately that it was coming
from God. And he’s been my biggest supporter in so many ways. When my
first book arrived, he teased me, making a big deal about it. I told
him then that it wasn’t my success, it was our success, because I
couldn’t do the things I do without his help and support—emotionally,
spiritually, financially, and every other way needed.
you have a story that is close to your heart that has yet to make it
onto the page? Can you share with readers the story that most reflects
The story that hasn’t made it
onto the page yet is a contemporary women’s fiction titled Beyond
Redemption. The theme is that nothing in our lives is beyond
the reach of God’s redemption. It’s a pretty gritty story. I’ve written
several chapters and there’s an editor at a major publishing house who
is interested in it. I’m not sure when or if she will buy it. But right
now it’s on my back burner, since I have all the contracts I can handle
You have a
great love for helping others, especially other writers. Tell us a bit
about your involvement in ACFW and mentoring others.
When God told me to
professional writer, I knew nothing about professional writing. All
along the way, He had people who poured into my life so I could move
forward toward the goal. I do have a heart for other authors. I see my
mentoring as a tithe of the talents God gave me. He gave me a love for
each of the writers He has brought into my life.
I’ve been in ACFW since a couple
of months after its inception. My
membership card was number 42. I’ve been involved as a volunteer in a
number of ways. I’ve spoken at several of the conferences either at
workshops or Late Night Chats. I’ve done paid critiques at conference
for as long as they have been offered. And now I take mentoring
appointments at the conferences. When we first started having local
chapters, Margo Carmichael and I helped to establish the Dallas−Fort
Worth local chapter. I’ve served as secretary, vice president, and
president. I may soon serve as treasurer. I love ACFW and want to give
back as much as I’ve received from this marvelous organization. I hold
three Carol Award silver pins, and I’ve received the ACFW Mentor of the
In addition to working with
ACFW, I have hosted a critique group in my
home for over twenty-five years.
family read your stories? Have they ever inspired you to write a
Yes, my very first novel was
inspired by an event in one of my daughter’s life. And, yes, even my
husband has read most of my books. One daughter reads more than the
other one, but both read as many of them as they have time to. One
granddaughter also reads my books, as do cousins and aunts, even one
male cousin. And my brother.
things is God doing right now in your life? In your writing career?
My family is involved at a very
dynamic church, and God enriches our lives through the ministry there.
We’re involved in a variety of ways. One daughter moved closer to the
rest of the family this year, and we’re enjoying her family being close
by. Two of the people I’ve been mentoring signed their first book
contracts this year. My life is filled with excitement.
I’m thrilled to be connected
with Realms/Charisma Media. I love the way the whole company works on
my books. My first book with them, Maggie’s Journey,
book one of my McKenna’s Daughters series, released in October. Book
two is written, and I’m working on book three.
Do you have
any words of encouragement you’d like to share with your fans?
I love my fans. No author would
be who they are without the support of loyal fans. I’ve been connecting
with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Shoutlife. They keep me writing,
trying to come up with stories that they will enjoy. I pray that each
story will entertain, inform, and encourage all of them.
Ford has been a resident of
Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a
Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent
the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of
Christian Fiction for more than 20 years.
A mother of two teen sons and married to a technical writer and Army
veteran, Kim’s life is full and blessed. She and her husband also
volunteer as teachers for a resident rehab program for women with
life-controlling issues. She uses her fiction to encourage the ladies
she teaches. She blogs at: Window
To My World