We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Lenhardt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Melissa, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
There isn’t much money in publishing. The deals for millions you read about online? Those are usually celebrity memoirs or political non-fiction. The usual suspects on the NYT bestseller lists are insanely rich not only because they’re household names (think Stephen King and Nora Roberts) but also because of TV/Movie rights. Most writers get insultingly small advances and sell books in the low four figures.

TLDR: publishing a book isn’t going to set you up for retirement.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Becoming a published author is insanely difficult. I don’t recommend anyone do it. Seriously. Especially if you’re sensitive and don’t handle rejection well. You will be critiqued and rejected every step along the way. Once you survive the writing a book/getting an agent/going out on submission/getting a deal/editing your book again and again and again for the publisher and you’re finally published? It’s a fantastic feeling, I’m not going to lie. It is a major accomplishment and something anyone should be proud of.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Dallas is known for it’s restaurant and shopping scene. I’m not much of a shopper but if my guest is I’d take them to NorthPark Center for swanky shopping and Bishop Arts District for boutique shopping. While in Bishop Arts, we’d stop at Eno’s for a pizza and beer or Hunky’s for a burger and a milk-shake. Of course, me being me, I’d want to stop in at the Wild Detectives for a drink and a perusal of their bookshelves. A concert at Kessler Theater would round out the day nicely.

If my visitor like to hike, I’d take them to Cedar Hills Nature Preserve, or if they like more of a stroll on a paved trail we’d go to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. After hiking we would definitely need to rehydrate and drinking a cold Shiner at Lee Harvey’s in The Cedars would hit the spot.

You can’t come to Texas without eating barbeque or a steak, or both. Hutchins BBQ in Frisco is a must and Bob’s Steak and Chophouse is a Dallas institution for a reason. Oh, I can’t forget about Mexican food! It has to be Mia’s on Lemmon or the original El Fenix downtown.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Kenneth Mark Hoover and DFW Writers’ Workshop

Mark, my cousin, has mentored me through all of the ups and downs of writing, especially honing my craft until the quality was high enough to pitch to agents. I would absolutely not be where I am today without his advice, encouragement, feedback, and support.

DFW Writers’ Workshop because I landed my agent at their annual writers’ conference, and because of the wonderful critiques I received from the group. I’ve made so many wonderful friends who have different perspectives on life and writing that it couldn’t help but make me more well rounded in my own life and writing.

Website: melissalenhardt.com

Instagram: @MelLenhardtAuthor

Twitter: @MelLenhardt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelissaLenhardt

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.