Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Julie Klassin is Jean Smith! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (ckrumm@litfusegroup.com)

This week Dorothy Love is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of her book, Beauty For Ashes, leave a comment on this post!

Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?

I’ve been married to the same sweet guy for 38 years come June. We met at church here in San Antonio right after college, married here, and then spent 35 years living all over the country—Dallas, Austin, Iowa, Columbus, Ohio, and San Diego. We came home to San Antonio three years ago. Full circle. We don’t have children. We’ve shared our home with a succession of wonderful canine “children”—a sheltie and a several golden retrievers. Currently we have “the boys”  –goldens ages 12 and 5. They keep us moving.  I work full time, with time out for taking care of a husband, a house, and two dogs. 

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

I love historical fiction. I began my career in 1995 publishing mainly historicals for young readers. In 2010 I moved to the adult inspirational market to write Southern historical fiction for Thomas Nelson. I love weaving the historical and the personal into stories about my native South. These days I am writing Southern historical fiction exclusively.  

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?  

I began in college as a journalist, working for the paper  to pay tuition. I’ve always loved novels, read voraciously all my life, and dreamed of making writing a career. But I took the practical route for many years, teaching and getting a PhD in instruction and administration. I worked in public education for almost 20 years before leaving it and jumping into writing full time. It took five years to sell my first novel. I paid the bills in the meantime writing magazine articles. 

After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?

Five years to sell the first novel, but I was writing for magazines and for business journals during that time.  

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing? 

I have a habit of “dreaming” whatever scene I am writing next. Before I go to sleep, I lie in bed and imagine it as a movie and the next day I have a place to begin. I have a small home office with a window overlooking our street. We have eleven trees on our tiny patch of land and I enjoy watching the birds flitting about in my trees as I work. Our sunroom is my favorite room in the house and I spend a lot of time revising work or reading galleys there. It has three walls of windows that overlook our back garden. I love to sit out there with my iced tea and work surrounded by nature.  Typically I spend 7 hours a day writing. More if I am close to deadline or if I’m working on multiple projects. 

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?

When I set out to become a novelist, I took a couple of classes that were very helpful. In one of those I met my best friend of 20 years who was also embarking on this perilous journey. We have brainstormed and helped each other with close to 30 books since the mid 1990’s. I attend at least one conference every year. I wish I had time for writers groups but my schedule is usually too intense. 

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer) 

It’s much more complex than simply writing the novel. There is publicity, marketing, building a fan base, figuring out social media. It’s become more demanding since I started out and is the part of the writer’s life I had not anticipated. I love the creative end of the writer’s life, I adore my publisher and my entire team at Thomas Nelson. They have embraced me like family and made me feel so blessed.  I tend to be a perfectionist, so I stress over every typo and every marketing decision. But I would not trade this life for anything and I never take any of it for granted. 

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?

Best moment was getting the call from my agent that Thomas Nelson wanted to buy the Hickory Ridge series. Nelson was on my list of dream publishers and that dream came true. I don’t think my feet touched the ground for three days.  Worst days…well, those are the days when a crushing review comes in, or when I learn that a beloved member of my publishing team is leaving, or when a story I’m excited about doesn’t resonate with my editors. But on balance, I’ve had many more best moments than worst ones. 

What is the role and importance of an agent?

An agent handles the business side of a career and frees up the author to concentrate on the creative side. My agent is a great sounding board for my ideas, and is a calming influence when I get too stressed. A good agent keeps an eye on the industry as a whole, looks for appropriate opportunities for expanding the author’s career, and  serves as a cheerleader. A good agent is another member of an author’s publishing team. It’s very important that he or she have a cordial working relationship at the publishing house. 

What advice would you give to new writers? 

Read widely in a variety of fields. I read lots of history, biographies, books on culture and politics. Because our fictional characters don’t live in a vacuum. All such knowledge helps with writing believable stories. Write every day. Have patience. Persevere. Much of the success of any endeavor is just showing up.

Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book. 

Have you ever fallen in love at first sight? Eyes meet, something clicks, and you just know this is the THE one. In BEAUTY FOR ASHES Carrie falls hard for Griff Rutledge. Read it to find out how she and Griff overcome long odds  to find love.  Okay that’s four sentences. But they’re short. 

What’s on the book horizon for you?

EVERY PERFECT GIFT, the final Hickory Ridge novel will be published this fall. I’ve just signed with Nelson for three more Southern historicals to be published through 2015. Two of the books are set in the beautiful South Carolina lowcountry, a place I’ve visited often and love.  One of those is loosely based on the life of a woman rice planter. I’m writing it now and loving it. The other is set on Pawley’s Island, and the last of the three will be set here in Texas, on a ranch modeled after the  King ranch in south Texas. 

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

Find me at www.DorothyLoveBooks.com. Friend me on Facebook and Twitter @DorothyLove. I love talking with readers.  My books are available online and at most retailers nationwide. 

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)

Thanks for having me, Suzanne. 

Also, be sure to check out Dorothy’s Kindle Fire Giveaway! And RSVP to meet Dorothy at her Facebook party on 3/20!

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