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Inspiration can come in many different shapes and forms. The trick is being open to receiving them in their many guises. Steeple Hill author Lenora Worth has mastered the knack of pulling inspiration from the people and events that surround her. Moreover, she refines it in her writing and passes it on in a more literary manner to her many readers who draw strength from the uplifting tales. You could say that inspiration is not created or destroyed, but changed from one form to another.
Of course, living in Shreveport, Louisiana has allowed the "glorious Old South" to imbue Lenora with a wealth of literary tradition, folklore, history, and unique characters from which to draw ideas. "In fact," says Lenora, "there are so many stories, it’s like having an open book in front of you." But Lenora learned at an early age that she had a gift for writing and that others were interested in what she had to say. "I always wanted to be a writer and growing up the youngest child on a farm in Georgia, I had lots of time to myself to create stories. Then I would write them up and sell them in the playground for a quarter." However, she is also quick to credit the influence of others on her success as a novelist. "As a student I was a goof-off but I had some teachers who recognized my love for writing and literature and encouraged me."
In fact, readers of her books and aspiring novelists may derive some inspiration not solely from one of Lenora’s books but also from her actual rocky road to becoming a published author. Starting out, she had her share of rejection letters — all of which she kept. "You can follow my career from my rejection letters: the first ones were form letters with no signature, then they had signatures and suggestions, and lastly refusals but expressing interest in seeing what I wrote next." But a rejection is a rejection and she thanks her husband for helping her to carry on with her dream. "They all hurt and were discouraging," she admits, "but my need to be a writer was stronger."
After getting involved with the Romance Writers’ Association in Shreveport, Lenora discovered what she was doing incorrectly and soon made her first sale — and since then there has been no looking back. Her first book for Steeple Hill was The Wedding Quilt — a tough book for Lenora to write because she drew from her own sister’s death at the hands of a drunk driver as part of the plot. Although she has written over 13 novels, Lenora still has plans for that first rejected novel. "It’s in a drawer — I want to go back to it sometime now that I know how to write it."
And, while it may have taken Lenora a few kicks at the can before she knocked it out of the yard, her talent has been recognized by fans and peers alike. She has won the Affaire De Coeur Readers’ Choice Award in 1997, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Love-Inspired Novel for both 1998 and 1999 (for Logan’s Child and His Brother’s Wife, respectively), and numerous local writing chapter awards. She is also now sharing her opinions with a non-romance reading public in Shreveport as a weekly columnist for The Times.
When it comes to her novels, Lenora hopes that they manage to inspire her readers in one way or another. "I didn’t get into this business for fame or fortune," she says. "If my books help one suffering person feel better or allow them to see something in a different light, that’s better than all the money in the world because you’ve touched them in a profound way." And perhaps her readers can see themselves mirrored in the characters that populate her novels — normal people with flaws and frailties to overcome who discover that they must ultimately be true to themselves and their faith.
"So many people in life don’t think they are worthy of love," Lenora explains, "so I try to tell them in my books that they are worthy of love — other people’s and God’s." Inspiring words, indeed.
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