Loree will be giving away a copy of her new book, Beautiful Bandit. To enter to win leave your email address with a comment.I'll put the names on pieces of paper and have my husband draw one on Monday night, July 5th.
Before I do that, I’d like to take just a moment and thank Gail for inviting me to her blog. It’s an honor and a joy to be here!
A little about me, hmm? Well, I have brown eyes and blondish hair, I’m 5’1” tall, and weigh…. Thank the Lord those tidbits aren’t what you’re looking for!
My dad worked for the Veterans Administration, so the family lived in a slew of cities. I held a myriad of careers to pay my way through school, and all that working and moving is probably responsible for my ability to talk to just about anybody, anywhere.
For the past 20 years, though, I’ve lived in the same house and worked at the same job: Writing. And I love both.
Being a people person is definitely a plus. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
I read every chance I got! As a really young girl, I read books about animals, and for a long time, thought I’d become a veterinarian. As a pre-teen, mysteries caught my attention and my new ‘job dream’ was “police officer.” By the time I was old enough to hold down a real job, I learned that both of my dream careers required far more muscle than God had blessed me with. So I became a singer!
Why do you write?
I write because if I didn’t, my head would explode! There are so many stories and characters and settings pinging around in my brain that if I didn’t write them down, I’m afraid they’d leak out of my ears.
(LOL) Tell us about your latest book.
I’m working on several projects at the same time, all with back-to-back deadlines. So I’ll try and keep this response in order-of-book-release if I can:
Beautiful Bandit is the first novel in my Lone Star Legends series, and it’ll be released in August, 2010. It’s a western, set in 1888, in Eagle Pass, Texas, and features a heroine, held hostage by a notorious outlaw who uses her as a “front” for a San Antonio bank heist where three men are killed. She escapes the killer only to discover he’s on her trail…and so are the Texas Rangers. So she assumes an alias and heads for Mexico. And on the way, she meets a handsome cowboy who helps show her the way...to the border, and to his heart.
It sounds suspenseful and heart-warming. What inspired you to write this particular book?
I love cowboys and I love history. So this series seemed like a natural blend of both. Plus, with every book, I get to “meet” new people and become better acquainted with “old” friends who’ve read my other novels. Some of these friendships date back to 1994, when my first novel was released, while others began just a few months ago. They share reasons they liked the stories, the characters, the relationship issues. Without exception, they say things like “Never quit writing!” and “When will your next book be out?” and “I can’t wait for #3 in this series!” Now, really…which of us can say no to their friends!
We're glad you didn't say "no." Where do you get ideas for your books?
I guess I’d have to say that my ideas come from living life. Things my friends and family are going through, things they’ve suffered and survived, ways they’ve succeeded and failed, what they’ve learned…or wish they had…usually ends up in a book.
In three words describe your style of writing.
A couple hundred readers have compared my style to Nicholas Sparks, a couple hundred more to Debbie Macomber. Honestly? I don’t see the similarities. I like to write about people who are flawed, and put them through their paces, so that by books’ end, they’ve changed and grown into better, more satisfied individuals.
That's an admirable goal. How do you get to know your characters?
By testing their mettle! I make them endure all the day-to-day stuff that you and I are forced to endure. And the best thing is…in the stories, I get to fix what’s wrong!
What themes do you write about?
Trust, faith, loyalty, family…together with problem-solving.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I get up early, usually by 5:30 a.m., and while the dog is outside, I put out his food and make coffee. Once he’s inside, I exercise for about half an hour, then get dressed, tidy the house and get to work. Most days, I’m at my desk by 7:30 a.m. and that’s where I stay until 5-6:00, when I stop to fix supper for my hubby and me. My office is in the back of the house, on the bottom “tri” of a modest tri-level in the Baltimore suburbs. It has no door, and it’s the “tall” part of an L-shaped space…shared with the laundry room. Suffice it to say that some days the wrinkles are in the load that stays too long in the dryer…and others, they’re in my plots!
Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
Writing is my job, so I’m blessed not to have to balance this with an out-of-the-house occupation. My hat is off to writers who work full time and write! I do my best not to let my husband, kids, or grandkids feel that I love my work more than I love them. They’ve been very supportive of my career, so really, the least I can do is leave my evenings and weekends open for them!
Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I’m mostly a plotter, but as anyone who’s taken my plotting workshop knows, there’s a lot of “pantzing” involved in my kind of plotting!
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Without my faith, I wouldn’t be a writer. God blessed me with this gift, and every morning as I sit down to write, He guides my fingers. It’s because He tells me which themes to concentrate on that I’m able to develop multi-dimensional characters. He’s keeping me pretty busy these days, and you know what? I’m rarely exhausted, because He makes sure I have the energy I need to do what He instructs as I construct each scene!
Do you put yourself in your books?
I suppose every author is in every book, at least to some degree. But in my case, it’s not a conscious thing. Because really…who wants to read about li’l old me when they can read about a woman hostage who’s used as a shield during a bank robbery in the wild, wild west!
What are you working on right now?
Maverick Heart (#2 in the Lone Star Legends series), is the story of a young woman—one of the first real graduates of nursing school—who follows her husband from Boston to Mexico, where he hopes to open a clinic. Just outside Lubbock, TX, their stagecoach is attacked by bandits…and her husband is killed, leaving her stranded in Eagle Pass. She can’t afford to go home and the town doc can’t afford a nurse, so she takes the only other job available: Teacher. She immediately falls in love with her students, the town, and one quiet sad-eyed Texan who teaches her a thing or two about faith and love. (Several more in that series, but they aren’t fully plotted…yet.)
Then there’s the “First Responders” series. The first novel, From Ashes to Honor, will be released to coordinate with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The after-effects of the tragedy has impacted the characters, and even 10 years later, they’re still healing…. In each of the next books I’ll feature EMTs, firefighters, cops, and search and rescue (with dogs) experts.
Finally, there’s Accidental Family, the 3rd in my “Accidental Blessings” series for Love Inspired.
If you could interview any character in one of your books which one would it be? What shocking thing might that character say? Why?
Bryce Stone, the hero in Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska. This big handsome soldier lost an eye in Afghanistan, trying to protect his men. There are so many elements of his character that I found fascinating. And you know what? I actually did interview him on my blog!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Every published author says the same stuff:
Write what you know.
Write the book of your heart.
Read, read, read…then write, write, write.
Take classes, join critique groups, attend conferences, go to workshops/seminars.
Never give up on your dream.
And it’s all solid, savvy advice. But I’ll add this: Ask yourself if you’re a Wanna-be or a Gonna-be. Wanna-be writers are more focused on writing than on selling. And that’s fine…if you have no desire to see your book on the shelves, if you don’t care whether anyone other than your kids and grandkids read it.
Gonna-be writers make sure “the book of your heart” is one that will sell. That means studying more than the how-to and the elements of fiction. It means knowing your market almost as well as you know your craft.
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
That’s easy…I’d be reading!
What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
I climbed to the top of a ski lift in Iron Mountain, Michigan with two of the waitresses and two of the bartenders who were employed at the lounge where I was singing that week. I had never met them before. Had never been to that part of Michigan before. Didn’t have a clue that, at the time, this thing was the tallest of its kind in the U.S. Never asked how we’d get back down once we made it to the top. And yet up I climbed. The view was amazing!
What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
When I was in high school, my eyesight was so awful that my glasses really fit that “Coke bottle lenses” cliché we hear so much about. So there I was, at a school dance, and knowing the boy I had a crush on was there, decided to take off my glasses. Couldn’t see two feet in front of my face without them, and that’s not an exaggeration, so I put my faith in my best girlfriends. Sadly, they didn’t accompany me to the bathroom, and I ended up crashing into the boy I had a crush on…in the BOYS’ ROOM.
(LOL) Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
If God has called you to write, do it! As they say, when He calls you to do something, He makes it possible for you to get it done.
And if you’re someone who’s read one of my books, and you haven’t written to me yet, what are ya waitn’ for! I love to pray with you about your journey into the land of the published!
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting my web site, http://www.loreelough.com/ or my blog, http://www.theloughdown.blogspot.com/
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Again, thanks, Gail for inviting me to your blog. You’ve asked some really cool, one-of-a-kind questions, so thanks, too, for making this a new and different experience. Yer a peach, and I hope to meet you in person one day soon! (And that goes for the rest of you, too!)
This summer, Beautiful Bandit (#1 in “Lone Star Legends” series from Whitaker) joins Loree’s 2009-10 releases, Love Finds You in Paradise, PA and Love Finds You in North Pole (Summerside), Tales of the Heart and Prevailing Love (Whitaker), and Be Still and Let Your Nail Polish Dry (Summerside). Maverick Heart (Lone Star Legends #2) comes out in January, 2011, while the release of From Ashes to Honor, #1 in her “First Responders’ series (Abingdon), will coordinate with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Accidental Family, #3 in the “Accidental Blessings” series (Love Inspired) and LFY in Folly Beach, SC are slated to hit bookstore shelves May and June, 2011, respectively.
Loree and her husband split their time between a little house in the Baltimore suburbs and a really little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where they cater to a formerly-abused Pointer whose numerous vet visits inspired the nickname ‘Cash’. She loves to hear from her readers and personally answers every letter sent to http://www.loreelough.com/.