Interview with Lori DeJong

Today we welcome to the Brave Blog author Lori DeJong to talk about her writing process and bravery. Welcome, Lori! Let’s jump right in.

Do you consider yourself brave? Why or why not?
I do in some ways, and in others, not so much. Anything medical sends my knees to quaking, from a
simple shot to any kind of procedure or surgery. I’m also not a very assertive person. But on the other
side of the coin, I think anybody who does anything creatively (writing, art, music, etc.) and decides to
put themselves out there is pretty brave.

I remember sending out my first wip for critique. I knew it would come back pretty marked up but I decided if I wanted to make it as a writer, that’s how I would grow and learn. Then there was the first time I sent it to a publisher (got a very nice rejection), sent work into contests, and so on. But I was never more nervous than I was last June when my debut novel was released. I think that’s probably the bravest I ever felt. I was nervous but left it all in the hands of Lord to do with as He pleased, even if only one person read it but was moved by it.

So true. Love that. Let’s talk about your writing process. Why do you write in the genre you do? Did you always want to write in that genre?
I love writing stories laced with faith, love, hope, joy … all mixed in with romance and characters
overcoming real-life issues to find a deeper relationship with Christ. And I love romance because you
always know you’ll have a happy ending. When I first started writing, I wrote secular romance, but there
were things I wouldn’t let my characters do, and it seemed like some morsel of faith would find its way
onto the page. That’s when I finally realized God was calling me to write Christian fiction, and after that,
everything clicked into place for me.

Do you enjoy drafting or editing better? Why?
I really love it when I’m drafting a first version of a book, especially when I’m in the zone and
words are coming fast and furious. I’ve written into the wee hours of the morning several times when
that happened. I don’t plot out a full novel, only the five main plot points. Then I write intuitively, or by
the seat of my pants, between each plot point.

Even though I do a huge amount of character development prior to starting a book, this first draft phase allows me to get deeper into their heads, allows me to “hear” the way they speak, “see” their mannerisms, and even discover things in their backstory I didn’t know was there. I love it when that happens, when they surprise me with something I didn’t know during the development phase.

I do enjoy editing because it’s where the polish comes in, layering in description, emotion, senses, and so on. But it’s also the most painful part because there have been many times I’ve had to throw out entire chapters that just didn’t work. That’s always hard but necessary if you want a cohesive story.

Ouch! Yes, so to toss out words as an author. Do you listen to music while you write? Do you need complete silence? Or something else?
I do. I find complete quiet far more distracting than music. But music has always played an
important role in my life, so listening while I write feels natural. The style will change at times,
depending on what I’m writing, but I mostly listen to Christian contemporary (think Crowder, Brandon
Lake, MercyMe, Lauren Daigle, for just a few that I really like) or worship music. If things are getting
pretty dramatic, I’ll switch to contemporary instrumental music (think Lindsey Stirling). And if it’s a
particularly romantic scene, many times I’ll listen to country music, the positive romantic ones. Haha!

Haha! How fun. Which book of yours was your favorite to write? Why?
This is a great question because I’ve enjoyed them all. But ironically, my favorite hasn’t been
published yet. I haven’t even sent it to my publisher yet. It needs a deep-dive edit first. But I absolutely
love that story and want to do right by it. So I’ve put it on hold until I’ve developed more as an author.
Maybe in a year or two, I’ll send it in and see if my publisher loves it as much as I do.

Do you enjoy writing in third person or first person better? Past or present tense?
I’ve never written in first person, but I think I prefer third person because it’s easier to include
more than one POV. In my books, I always have a his and hers POV, which I much prefer over one book
solely from one POV. And I definitely prefer third person past tense.

Who is your biggest cheerleader?
I would have to say my daughter. She’s twenty-four and lives up in the Dallas area, about three
hours away. But she’s my only child and we’re very close. She was always the one telling me to keep
going, that she had faith I would be published. And she’s helped me so much with my website, social
media, making graphics for me and so on.

My husband is also incredibly supportive but a bit more quietly behind the scenes. My mom, too, has been very supportive of my writing life. My dad, who passed away last December, was a huge heerleader. He would tell everybody he met, even store clerks or coffee baristas, that his daughter was a published author and they should read my book. He was very cute about it.

Aww. How sweet. So great to have family support. What is the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to write their first book?
Get community. Find your people. Your writing people. Get involved in writers’ groups, go to
conferences, take online webinars, anything you can to learn the craft and get the support of others on the same journey. It’s so much more than having a good story in your head.

I wrote on my own for two years before I found a fantastic local writing group (attached to a national organization), and those early manuscripts are truly awful. It wasn’t until I realized that there’s an entire craft involved in writing that I was able to hone that. Having a community of writers has made all the difference for me and is probably what kept me going at it for so long before I was published.

Great advice. Now for my favorite question: How has the Lord shown Himself faithful in your life?
In so many ways. In my family, my writing, my relationships, home, finances, health. I could go
on and on. One thing I’ve learned is that God showing Himself faithful doesn’t mean life will be easy.
We’ve definitely gone through some stuff as a family, and I even stopped writing for ten years because
of some upheaval we went through several years ago that took my feet out from under me. But He was
always there. Even when I wasn’t so sure, He would do something to remind me He had me firmly in
hand. That He saw me. I think that’s why I write characters who have walked, or are currently walking,
through some stuff, to show how God can use the dark moments, the rocky paths, or the uncertain
outcomes to build our faith. To refine us, so to speak. Because He is faithful. Sometimes that’s all we
have to rely on. Stepping out in faith, resting in faith, moving or being still … wherever we are in our
walk, just know He is Lord. And that He has already won the victory on our behalf.

What are you working on now?
I’m in the midst of writing “Love’s True Measure”, the third and final installment of the True
Calling series. That’s due to my publisher in October to be released in June 2025. In October, my novella,
“Jingle Bell Matchmakers” is coming out as part of “A Match Made at Christmas”, a collection of four
novellas with three other Scrivenings Press authors. And once “Love’s True Measure” is turned in, I’ll
start the edits on my first romantic suspense that will release in October 2025, the first in a three-book
series. Title as yet unknown. Titles are not my strong suit, so I usually have to get pretty far into a story
before I come up with one.

Thanks so much for joining us on the Brave Blog. It was great to learn more about you. Blessings on all your endeavors.

You can see Lori’s True Calling series here.

About the author

Lori DeJong (pronounced DeeYung) is a contemporary Christian romance author who enjoys penning stories full of grace and the redemptive power of God’s love that inspire others to hope regardless of circumstance, find joy in the moment, and grow in their faith.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Lori arrived in Texas in 2005 and dug those roots right in. She currently resides in beautiful Georgetown, north of Austin, with her husband of thirty years. Other than their two fur-babies, their nest is empty, as their daughter graduated from college and settled in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, where she is thriving in her faith and career.

Lori loves to write about love and romance and all that fun stuff, with a firm foundation of faith. Clean but sassy, sparkly, and even goose-bumpy romance, with God in the middle and characters seeking and learning and changing, couldn’t be more heartwarming or spine-tingly.

Lori’s debut novel, “Love’s True Calling”, Book One of her True Calling Series, was the 2020 winner of the Scrivenings Press Novel Starts Contest, the 2022 winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Romance, and a 2022 Maggie finalist. It was released by Scrivenings Press in June 2023, “Love’s True Home” will release in June 2024, and “Love’s True Measure” in June 2025.

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