WG: Welcome Lenora. Thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
LW: I was born in Georgia, but I’ve lived in Louisiana for over 25 years. I’ve been married for 32 years and I have two grown children. I attended LSUS but never finished because I became pregnant with my second child and used staying home to raise him as a good excuse to finally start writing. I’ve worked in marketing and public relations and I wrote a weekly opinion column for the Shreveport Times for about five years. I now do freelance work for a local magazine, too.
WG: Let’s talk about your own personal road to publication: Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
LW: I always wanted to be a writer (from the fourth grade on.) I was the youngest of seven children and I grew up on a farm, so books became my means of escaping. I loved to read and still do. When I got married and moved to Atlanta, my husband worked at night and a friend loaned me some romance novels to read. I was hooked and I knew that’s what I wanted to write. When we moved to Louisiana, I joined the local RWA chapter--NOLA (now the NOLA STARS) and met several wonderful mentors--Penny Richards, the late Sandra Canfield and the late Suzannah Davis. These three women taught me so much about writing.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
LW: Even though I’d been writing all my life, I got serious after joining NOLA. I had a stack of rejections, but I still decided to stay home after my second child was born and write full-time. Those were lean days--I had to give up shopping for a while. In 1993, I sold my first book to Avalon. I was thrilled, but I was also sick with the flu. When I got the call, I actually thought I was hallucinating! Since then I’ve written over 30 books for three different publishers.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
LW: I’d written four books before I sold the first one. I’ve sold all of those except my very first book. But I still plan to write that book one day.
WG: What changed most about your life as a direct result of joining the ranks of published authors?
LW: I guess the most obvious change is being able to do what I love--write--and to be able to do that at home, with my family around. The second change is that I can now go shopping again! I’m able to contribute to my family’s income and well-being and that is very important to me. I’m not rich by any means, but my husband just retired so I feel good about being able to help out with the finances. The other things that give me joy are being able to travel and meet other writers. I have so many close friends who understand this business and help me through the rough spots.
WG: What about your writing process: Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
LW: My typical day starts around 7:30 with yoga, then breakfast with my husband and reading the paper. Then I get dressed and head upstairs to my office. I read e-mail, then I get busy writing. I usually write from ten a.m. to around 3 PM. I take a coffee break around 11 or so, then go downstairs to eat a late lunch and fall asleep watching Ophra!
WG: Do you have a ‘mood setter’, something you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
LW: Mood setter--DEADLINE. Seriously, I just like to get in my office and get to work each day. Sometimes I play music or light a candle. Chocolate and coffee help, too, of course.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
LW: I am a seat of the pants writer. I don’t do much upfront stuff. I just get a scene in my head or I ‘meet’ characters and see where they want to go. I have this strange thing that happens with each book. I can ‘see’ the entire story moving like a fast-forward movie inside my brain. The hard part is getting that on paper.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
LW: I usually start with characters. Sometimes, I’ll get this idea and go from there, but mostly the characters start the story for me.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories.
LW: Since I write inspirational, forgiveness and redemption are big themes in my work. And love conquers all. I love a tormented hero or a beaten-down heroine--I like it when they rise to the occasion and overcome obstacles and challenges.
WG: Has anything about the way you work changed since you became a published author?
LW: Not much--I pretty much do what I’ve always done. Now I just know how to do it a little better--to the point of always having steady work. That’s all I ask for--steady productive work and stories that readers can enjoy!
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
LW: Just that writing is very hard and it is sometimes very lonely. The business side of things can really bring you down sometimes. But … if you are a writer, you will find a way to write. If I can do it and become multi-published, I know others can, too. It’s a beautiful dream, but it is also a business and you have to know the business and set goals and work toward making those goals become reality.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
LW: I love all types of books. I read several different type books, sometimes moving from book to book.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
LW: Yes. I want to write an historical. That’s on my list to do.
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication.
LW: Listen, learn, and work hard. Don’t be so stubborn about listening to good advice, but don’t get so many opinions that you lose your own voice and your own stories. And don’t give up.
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of ‘conventional wisdom’ that you wish you had ignored?
LW: I had a so-called friend tell me once that a scene in my book didn’t belong there. I DID ignore her, because I knew that scene needed to be there. That book sold and became one of my bestsellers. You have to go with your gut.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What do you struggle with the most?
LW: Rewarding--just having steady work and being able to sit in a room with a view and write. Struggles--always waiting for the contract on the next book, wondering if you’re done and you won’t have another contract.
WG: When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?
LW: I love to shop. I like to cook when I have time. I enjoy reading all my favorite authors. I like long walks and just relaxing with my family.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
LW: I love quotes, too. I guess one of my favorites is Agatha Christie’s “The best time to write a book is when you’re doing the dishes.”
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
LW: I just finished a book that I’m very excited about. The title is Secret Agent Minister and it’s a Love Inspired Suspense due out next year. It is very action-packed and completely different from anything I’ve done before. It was way too much fun to be called work, but I did work hard on that book. It was one of those stories that came through my mind after a NOLA workshop with Merline Lovelace. Merline and the participates did a “what if?” for the opening scene and she suggested I should write the book. So I did! So I’m excited and I share this to show writers that going to workshops is important. I got this book from that tiny idea!
WG: Tell us about plans for future books.
LW: Right now I’m working on a LIS continuity set in Texas (along with some of my dear LI friends) and a suspense set in Texas.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your fans can get in touch with you.
LW: You can write to me through Steeple Hill or visit my website at http://lenoraworth.com.