Friday, June 27, 2014

MY LAST POST ON THIS BLOG - Lena Nelson Dooley

I have really enjoyed being a part of this blog. And I've loved hearing from you readers. But many new things are happening in my writing life, and I'm having to simplify the other things I'm involved with.

Before I go, I want to share some fun new things from this week. James and I flew out last Saturday to go to Atlanta, Georgia. My latest novel, Catherine's Pursuit, was one of three finalists for the CAN Golden Scrolls Awards contest for Novel of the Year. I count being a finalist for this award a great honor.

The Golden Scrolls Awards Banquet was held early Sunday afternoon. James and I were seated with some very interesting people, and we enjoyed sharing a meal and visiting with them.

I was awarded the Golden Scroll Award for Third Place in Novel of the Year. Here's a picture of me with the award.

Several of the CAN Golden Scroll awards were displayed on this table at the big Jubilee Celebration that afternoon and evening. My award is the second from the left with my book and bookmarks in front of it.

Here I am with many of the different Golden Scrolls Award winners. Jerry B Jenkins, to the left of center on the front row was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award. I never thought I'd be in a picture with winners that include him. What an honor.

James and I stayed at the Omni Hotel. CNN's International Headquarters are in a section of that hotel. Here's the view from out balcony.

We don't watch a lot of CNN programming, but we did find the building interesting. And there was a CNN food court where we ate most of the time we were in Atlanta.

I hope you will keep looking for my books and letting me what you think about them. 

Lena Nelson Dooley

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Spirit of the Amish

I wanted to share my latest story, Loves Abundant Harvest. Once again the Cover Artist has captured a perfect cover for this character. We are fortunate to enjoy these eye catching pictures. This character has been through a lot of mistreatment and has become distant, so the despondent look on her face is appropriate, as do the protective arms across her chest.  

What covers attract you?

What is your favorite?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Getting in Touch With My Roots

I have taken a break from writing fiction over the past few months to concentrate on writing a paper on a history of my hometown of Raymond, Alberta, and the surrounding area. Every town has a story, of course, but the little prairie town of Raymond is special to me because it's where I grew up and where I continue to live. My wife and I raised our children here and have many special friends. When the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond" was at the height of its popularity, T-shirts with the logo on it began popping up around town. A bit egocentric, yes, but it was always worth a chuckle to see our community pride manifest on what appeared to be an international level.

Something I have discovered is how my love for my home town has crept into my writing. I have written at least three novels that are set in a fictional town named Reunion, which I realize is really Raymond. And locals who have read the novels have come up to me and indicated they recognized Raymond as the setting. I have even written and performed three songs about Raymond, Alberta. The songs fit in perfectly with the curriculum at the elementary school where I taught for twenty-five years. It was rewarding to teach the songs to my students and then go "on tour" and share them with the other classes in the school.

So whether it's writing books or writing songs, I have been significantly influenced by my roots. And the research paper I just finished has reminded me of just how much of a small-town prairie boy I am and will remain. You may take the boy out of the town, but . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thankful for My Writer Pals

I'm thankful for the friends I've made through ACFW, RWA, and In most jobs, there's an office with a water cooler, coffee station, and break room. Freelance writers and novelists don't have a physical place where we can connect, unless we spend time (and money) at a coffee shop. I like Starbuck's as much as the next person, but I'm not one who can get much done with so many interesting things going on around me.

So I'm happy to have my writer pals to communicate with online and at conferences. Every now and then we're able to find other opportunities to get together in person, but that's not so easy since we're spread out all over the world.

I'm a big fan of all of these writers because they can do something I never will be able to: Tell stories in their unique author voices. Even my agent Tamela Hancock Murray is a writer, and I was a fan of hers long before we became friends and business associates.

I cherish the laughter and tears I've shared with these wonderful friends. It's impossible to read one of Sandie's books without smiling. Julie Pollitt has some wonderful articles online, and one of these days readers will be able to enjoy her fiction as well. Cherie Burbach knows how to be a good friend, and she shares her knowledge with readers through Trish Perry, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Sandie Bricker, and I enjoyed writing devotions for the Delight Yourself in the Lord...Even on Bad Hair Days collection. Unfortunately, we lost Diann last year after her long battle with cancer. Lena Nelson Dooley has always been an encourager, and (shh, don't tell anyone) we acted like silly teenagers in the Mall of America a few years ago. Martha Rogers, Kathi Macias, and Jenness Walker were my neighbors in the fictional town of Bloomfield. I met Becky Waters (author of Breathing on her Own) when she did a blog interview in Tampa. We hit it off quickly and chatted about all kinds of things not even closely related to our books.

Here are some of the people I've had the good fortune to meet through our writing.

Sandie Bricker and me at a hospital event

Good friend and Web writer Julie Pollitt

Close friend and agent Tamela Hancock Murray

Good friend Cherie Burbach (Friendship Expert with

Friends and fellow "Bad Hair" authors Trish Perry, Kristin
Billerbeck, me, Diann Hunt, and Sandie Bricker
Bloomfield authors Jenness Walker, me, Kathi Macias, and Martha Rogers

Author and blogger Becky Waters

Pals - Lena Nelson Dooley and Martha Rogers

I have met so many more people whose pictures I can't find in the humongous album in my computer. There's a great one of the "Be Still" authors Loree Lough, Andrea Boeshaar, Sandie Bricker, and me floating around somewhere, but after a long search, I finally gave up. In the future, I'll do a better job of labeling photos rather than rely on the numbers my computer assigns.

Writers, have you met other writers you'll be friends with for life?
Readers, have you become friends with writers and enjoyed the journey together?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

RUE - Resist the Urge to Explain

I am sitting on the balcony overlooking the beach trying to get through a wonderful story, Andrew Peterson's fourth book in the Wingfeather Saga and this is why I'm a day late. Being on vacation, I've watched the reruns of two of my favorite shows from BBC, Sherlock and Doctor Who. I'd like to share a post from back in January in the aftermath of the showing of the third season of Sherlock and the 50th Anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor".

If you have never seen the BBC production of Sherlock and you are an avid reader or even interested in good, solid writing, then shame on you! I watched the final episode in season 3 and wept, screamed with delight, shouted with shock, and almost fell out of my chair in the final five minutes! Such is the sheer wonder of watching any show from the Mark Gatiss/Steven Moffat team responsible for the modern adaptation of Sherlock and the past three seasons of Doctor Who.

In one of my blog posts, I mentioned what I consider the smartest science fiction television episode of modern times, “Blink!” written by Steven Moffat. As a writer of Christian speculative fiction, I truly appreciate smart, clever writing. Too often, our modern writers over explain things or, worse, never explain anything leaving you hanging in an eternal limbo of unanswered questions.

Recently, Steven Moffat came under criticism for his stories containing “plot holes”. Hmmm. Plot holes? Reading between the lines, unanswered questions. Here is what he had to say about his “plot holes”.

“I think people have come to think a plot hole is something which isn’t explained on screen. A plot hole is actually something that can’t be explained. — Sometimes you expect the audience to put two and two together for themselves. For Sherlock, and indeed Doctor Who, I’ve always made the assumption that the audience is clever.”

Ah, are you are clever reader? Or, do you prefer for the author to spell everything out in great detail?

In the business, we authors use the acronym, RUE. Resist the Urge to Explain! You see this rule violated with increasing frequency. I call it the tyranny of “as you know”. The new show, “Intelligence” abandoned subtlety for blanket exposition and was quickly cancelled. Things are explained to the audience because we are so stupid, we might not get it. Many lines of dialogue can be prefaced with “As you know, so and so has this computer chip implanted in his head which gives him the ability to . . . .” This bleeds into another staple of writing, “Show, don’t tell”. A “clever” writer shows the facts we need to know instead of spelling them out.

In the recent third season of “Sherlock” viewers (spoilers ahead — don’t read this paragraph if you have NOT seen season 2) waited for TWO years to find out how Sherlock survived his demise at the end of season 2. Great debates raged online. In my home, my daughter and her best friend and I watched the episode three times and came up with our own theory. Now, the lazy writer would have started off this new season with a quick and dirty explanation of how Sherlock survived. Instead, we are treated with numerous live action replays of some of these “theories” in what is some of the most clever sequences ever. In fact, the viewer doesn’t learn about the truth until near the end of the episode and it is an integral part of the unfolding story of Watson’s reunion with a supposedly dead Sherlock.

Plot holes? I think not. I was engaged. I was a part of the process. It was hard. It was tedious. But, it was fun!!! And, as a reader, the best books make me carry part of the load. The best written stories make me work along side the author in solving the “plot holes”. “Lost” has received great criticism for its finale. But, if you watched the show, you realized it was addictive and compelling. For the entire run of the series, fans formed theories and ideas. The reason the finale was not satisfying is because the hype over the finale (like the new Star Wars movies back in 1999) could never satisfy all of the various theories floated by fans.

Steven Moffat recently ended the 50 year run of Doctor Who with his own “trilogy” and the story he wrote changed the entire direction of the show for the next 50 years. Theories were abundant on the internet and in homes around the world. My own family was rife with theories. My son and his wife had their own theories that were, to me, quite exotic and bizarre. The point of all of this is that we were ENGAGED. These supposed “plot holes” served to pull us into the story. We worked hard for months leading up to the finale trilogy realize that the excellent writing of Steven Moffat would go in a direction we could never have seen and also, instead of disappointing us, it would leave us supremely satisfied. And, that was the results for us when the credits rolled at the end of “The Name of the Doctor”, “The Day of the Doctor”, and “The Time of the Doctor”. We have forgotten the joy of anticipation!

We need “plot holes”. We need writing that engages the reader or the viewer. In a culture where answers are just a text away; where information flows through our brains like “c**p through a goose” as Patton once said; where choices are endless and we live in a whirlwind of instant gratification it is comforting to know that clever and skillful creative minds out there still value the “plot hole”. As for me, I want to work to solve the problem of the story; I want to step into the world created by the writer and be just as stymied and stumped as the protagonist. In short, I want to be IN the story, not sitting back just observing. I want to enjoy the journey just as much as the destination.

So, keep on resisting the urge to explain. Continue to show, don’t tell. And, you will have a rapt and grateful audience!

Remember, my own three books in the “Chronicles of Jonathan Steel” complete the first trilogy in my thirteen book series and are available at for a special price right now. Check them out and see if I was successful with RUE and Show, Don’t Tell!

Friday, June 13, 2014


I'm hosting a summer reading challenge on my blog:

A Red Hot Summer Reading Challenge

Three months of reading challenge - June, July, August. Keep a list of all the books you read and list them this way:

List one will be books with covers on either sidebar of this blog. You will get 3 points for each of them you read.

List two will be the books featured on my blog that aren't in either sidebar. You will get 2 points for these.

List one will be any other book you read in these three months.

When you make your list, we want the title and author(s) of the book.

You'll be reporting on your progress at the end of each month. At the end of June and at the end of July, you can leave a comment with only the number of books read. At the end of August, we'll want your complete lists in the comments. The one who has the most points will receive a gift card to Deeper Shopping Online Christian store.

I'll be reading along with you. This is going to be fun.

Happy Reading!!!

Friday, June 6, 2014


I never thought it would happen but it finally did.

Writer's block.

It's not from lack of words or ideas, it's due to all the changes and activity going on with everyone around me. Changes can be good, to find something fresh or surprising. But I've learned as time goes on, that I like my routine, and if anyone or anything changes that it erupts my consecration.

So what do I do when I resize I need some prompts to help me refocus? Here are a couple of examples.:

1-Take two people you know who seem to be opposites in every way. Think about them until you hit on something they have in common.

2- The only thing I ever wanted was- Start Writing

3-Finish the following sentence in the voice of someone ten years older or ten years younger that you

Do you have a similar experience to share?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Finally – Almost Settled!

It seems as though this last move my husband and I made took longer than it should have, but we're finally in our new house in South Carolina. Although we have all our stuff here, there's still a garage full of boxes and some things I can't figure out where to place. But that's okay. We're in our house, our SC driver's licenses are in our wallets, and I have enough pots and pans to cook and dishes to serve them on.

South Carolina is such a beautiful state, but until our younger daughter and her husband moved here I never even thought about making it home. We actually considered North Carolina when our older daughter and her husband moved there, but after visiting her for 10 very cold January days a few years ago I knew it wouldn't be a good place for me. At least here we're closer to our granddaughters than we were in Florida.

Now I'd like to celebrate our move by offering a giveaway. If you are interested in any of my books that I have on hand, please send me a link to a post where you mention Dixie Belle in the Uptown Belles series with Charisma House. This can be on Facebook, Goodreads, your blog, your website, or any other social media that you use regularly. I'll draw three names, and if you're one of them, I'll and send you a list of books to choose from.

Send the link to my email address:

Here's the blurb for Dixie Belle:
Cissy Hillwood needs to leave her Alabama hometown to escape her abusive boyfriend, so she accepts an offer to work for her Uncle Forest in New York City. Sparks fly when she meets Forest’s fiercest competitor, Tom Jenkins, but her uncle does not approve of their budding romance.

Tom is a Christian at night and on weekends, but he seems to leave his faith at the door when he gets to work. Yet the more time he spends with Cissy, the more he begins to question and reevaluate his business ethics.

As Cissy tries to keep her relationship with Tom a secret from her Uncle Forest, misunderstandings mount and conflicts arise, forcing Cissy to make a decision. Which should she choose: loyalty to her uncle or love for Tom?

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Baby Named Galley!

There is a moment in a published author’s life that is akin to seeing your unborn child for the first time by ultrasound. As a radiologist, I am fully aware of the excitement parents feel when they see that gray and white blob moving on the ultrasound screen and begin to catch glimpses of what the finished “product” will look like. They gasp when they see fingers. They laugh when they see arms and legs. And, they cry when they see the face even though it is such a poor reflection of the beautiful child they will hold in their hands in just a few months.

Friday, I had such an experience. A package waited for me by my front door when I got home from a long, hard day at the hospital. To say I was tired and frustrated and disillusioned by the direction health care is going is to say the least. Soon, I will weigh in on this issue because I can no longer keep my silence after the horrific events with the VA scandal. But, for today, I want to share something bright and happy and encouraging. I picked up the package and noted it was quite heavy for such a small box. When I got the thing inside and ripped off the tab, guess what I found inside?

Galley proofs.

What? What are galley proofs, you ask? In the days before electronic media prevailed, an upcoming book was printed out on rough sheets of paper to approximate what the final product would look like. Since 2006, I’ve been involved in the publishing of five of my books and each galley proof was presented to me as a PDF. My excitement was no less at receiving these electronic documents. But, here was a throw back to old school publishing. Why? Because this book required a careful review of the actual printed appearance, not just an electronic approximation. For, this book would have illustrations and break out text boxes and Lifefilters. . . 

What is a Lifefilter? More on that later.

In the summer of 2012, as I have shared in the past, God did something truly miraculous and literally dropped a book project into the laps of yours truly and my co-author and best friend (and former pastor) Mark Sutton. We wrote a book on depression in 2001 (which is still an excellent book, by the way!) But, over the intervening years, things changed and we wanted to update the book. Our publisher was not interested. But, a new team took over the editorial direction at B&H Publishing and they wanted us to write a new updated version of the book.

Mark and I went to work immediately in the fall of 2012 and now, before me was the galley proofs of a book we are hoping will help millions. Did you see that word? Millions! Not because we want money. No, it is because we are in the midst of an epidemic of depression unprecedented in American history since the Great Depression.

So, I will grab a cup of coffee. I wish I could teleport myself to New Zealand and have one of those luscious “flat whites” as you can see my friend Alex drinking. Yes, that is a cup as big as a cereal bowl! They love their coffee in New Zealand. So, I will hunker down with my galley proofs and drinks lots of coffee and check this manuscript out.

When will you be able to get your hands on “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression”? Stay connected to my site as Mark and I will be launching a new website this summer to keep you informed of the arrival of this important tool. For now, you can check out our rather static site for information on the current book here. And, don’t forget to pick up some copies of “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel” for your summer reading!

Got to get to work!