A Chat with Lena Nelson Dooley


This past month, I’ve been featuring authors who contributed tips to my book Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. Anita Higman and Kathi Macias have both shared with us. This week Lena Nelson Dooley, author of more than 800,000 copies of her books sold, joins us.


Let’s start by sharing with my followers how the two of us know each other. What are your recollections of when, where, and/or how we first met?

We met online, but our first face-to-face meeting was at a writers’ retreat that Janice Thompson hosted at a campground right outside the Sam Houston National Forest here in Texas. It was such a good time to really get to know each other. I think your editing of my book Pirate’s Prize was shortly before that retreat.

I have extremely fond memories of that retreat! It was a very special and powerful experience that made a lasting impression on me. (And I loved the skit you did there!) I really enjoyed editing Pirate’s Prize too.


Tell something about yourself as a person and as a writer.

I’m a real people person, and that’s hard when you’re a writer. Writing is a very solitary business. That’s why I like getting out and interacting with people any time I can.


What genre(s) do you write in, and why?

Over the years of my writing career, I’ve written a number of genres, including contemporary, mystery, and suspense novels. And that one pirate book you edited. The last few years, I’ve written more historical novels because that’s what my publishers have contracted.


Tell me about obstacles you had to overcome to become an author.

Being published by traditional publishers is always a “hurry up and wait” event. You have to rush to meet deadlines, then you wait a long time for the book to come out. That was hard to get used to.


I’ll bet! Tell me about your current work-in-progress.

I’m working on a historical series. Book one is set in Summit County, Colorado. I’ve spent time there. Books two and three are set near where I live in north Texas. The titles are A Heart’s Gift, A Heart’s Redemption, and A Heart’s Forever Home.


What do you love most about writing, Lena?

I love the creative process. Sitting down at the computer and just writing the story.


Describe your most difficult challenge in writing.

At this point in my writing life, I’m better at this, but earlier, I had to learn how to edit my writing as I go.


Describe your proudest writing success.

My latest book, Catherine’s Pursuit, received three awards. I’ve won awards before, but never three for the same book.


Do you prefer print or e-books, and why?

Actually, I love both. When I’m at home, I usually read print books. I like the feel of holding the book in my hands and turning actual pages. But I own a Kindle, and it goes with me wherever I go. I read that when I’m waiting somewhere or traveling, things like that.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up in a family of writers. I’m the only one who writes for publication, but I thought everyone was a writer. When I married a man who didn’t like to read or write, I realized I was different from many people in the world because I am a writer.


What is the best advice on writing you ever received?

Don’t compare your writing to the writing of anyone else. God gave you books to write, and you can write those stories better than anyone else could.


Describe your writing space.

James and I have been empty nesters for a long time now. After our daughters were married, I turned one of the bedrooms into my office. I have lots of storage space, a desktop computer, and a large printer, which I use a lot. I also have a laptop computer and an Air Desk in the room where James and I watch TV, so I can write there too.


What one piece of advice would you share with aspiring writers?

Write for an audience of One. When you please Him, you’ll be successful.


Love that, Lena! Thanks so much for sharing your words of wisdom. 


Lena Nelson DooleyAward-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley has more than 800,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and cofounder of her local chapter, ACFW–DFW. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers, and she 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.