Monday, May 31, 2010
At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had 74 books, 63 short stories, and over 2,500 articles in print. Dubbed by reviewers “the writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives”, she has earned dozens of “Readers’ Choice” and industry awards.
Her 2009 “Love Finds You” titles and Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry! were recently joined by Prevailing Love and Tales of the Heart (Whitaker). Beautiful Bandit, #1 in Loree’s “Lone Star Legends” series (Whitaker) will hit bookstore shelves this summer, while the release of From Ashes to Honor (#1 in her “First Responders” series from Abingdon) will coordinate with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Her third “Love Finds You” title is slated for release in June, 2011, and re-issues of Love Inspired reader favorites (from Loree’s “Accidental”, “Turning Points”, and “Suddenly” series) will become available fall, 2010 through spring, 2012.
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.
Welcome, Loree. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Before I answer that, I’d like to take a moment to thank you, Lena, for the thousands of things you’ve done over the years for writers. Your mentorship is a beautiful thing, rivaled only by your friendship. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying, “We appreciate you like crazy!”
As for the horizon? Well—God willing—more of the same! Every time I feel overwhelmed by the stresses of research and interviews, plotting and pacing (and all the other fundamentals that go into a reader-friendly novel), I focus on the thousands of letters I’ve received from women, men, and even kids, telling me how one of my books impacted their lives. Without exception, these reader-friends tell me how an element of a particular story helped them, changed them, reminded them that God works in amazing and mysterious ways. It’s energizing, knowing that He has chosen me help Him reach those who otherwise might not hear His word (or a specific aspect of it)!
Thank you, Loree. It's always a blessing to do what God calls us to do. Tell us a little about your family.
After a whirlwind courtship of almost nine months, my sweet hubby and I were married—in 1972. Together, we created a happy, loving family that thrived and grew, and at last count, there were 7 grandkids at the Thanksgiving table!
They really can fill the hous with love and noise, can't they? Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Oh, by all means! So much of what I read these days consists of research materials, and leaves very little time for “pleasure reading.” When I do pick up a novel, it’s usually one of my writer pals’ books. I’m a firm believer in supporting other authors, so judging contests and writing endorsements is a routine part of my writing life.
What are you working on right now?
I’m literally hours from turning in the second book in the Lone Star Legends series (Whitaker), Maverick Heart. Once that’s in-house, I’ll get busy on the first book in my First Responders series (Abingdon), From Ashes to Honor, which will release to help commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
I can hardly wait for that book, too. We must feature it here. What outside interests do you have?
I love, love, love my grandkids, so I spend as much time as I can with them. My hubby and I have a little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and we’re up there as often as possible, hiking and soaking up the views. I sketch and paint, fiddle with my roses (outside) and orchids (inside), and I love to cook and bake (as evidenced by my constantly-expanding waistline!). Every now and then—usually at the request of my grandkids—I’ll drag out the old guitar and croon a tune or two.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Thomas Jefferson, no question about it! The man was brilliant, insightful, provocative, and a devout Christian. But you know…I doubt one evening would be enough time for me to ask him everything pinging around in my head!
I know what you mean. I'd love to talk to him, too. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
That, like the military, every facet of the industry operates on a “Hurry up…and wait!” basis.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
Since childhood, He’s been working on helping me develop patience…mostly, with myself.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
1. Read, read, read. Then, write, write, write. That old adage we heard as kids, “Practice makes perfect?” Well, it’s true!
2. Learn and understand The Rules, so that when you break them (and you will!), you’ll do it in the “write” way.
3. The most important person in the writing process is your reader. Yes, you’ll need to please your editor, agent, critique partner(s), and self. But when all’s said and done, it’s all about the reader. All about the reader!
Tell us about the featured book?
Beautiful Bandit, the first in the Lone Star Legends series, is set in Eagle Pass, Texas, in the year 1888. It’s the story of a young woman—kidnapped and used as a “front” during a brazen and deadly bank heist—who must outrun the notorious outlaw and the Texas Rangers. During her arduous trek to Mexico, it’s her good luck to run into a handsome cowboy. It’s his bad luck that the secretive young beauty who calls herself Dinah is a “danger magnet.” When he brings her home to recuperate from her injuries, she lures the vicious killer right to his door. As the pair learns about faith, trust and forgiveness, God teaches them a lesson about love, as well.
I was privileged to read this bookin manuscript form, and it's marvelous. Please give us the first page of the book.
Book One in the Lone Star Legends Series
by Loree Lough
San Antonio, Texas
The hot, sticky air in the banker’s cluttered office made it hard to breathe.
Josh ran a fingertip under his stiff collar as the image of Lazy N cows, dropping by the thousand, reminded him why he’d come to San Antonio: Selling uncontaminated acres was the only way to protect those that remained…until the family got the anthrax under control….
He did his best not to glare at the decorous Bostonian sitting beside him. Wasn’t the Swede’s fault, after all, that anthrax had killed so many Neville cattle. In his shoes, Josh would have snapped up the land just as quickly. Trouble was, now this fancy pants Easterner would move to Eagle Pass with his never-been-out-of-the-city wife and kids and an arm’s length list of questions about Texas weather, irrigation, when to plant, and only the good Lord knew what-all. If that didn’t earn Josh a seat closer to the Throne, he didn’t know what would.
Few things agitated him more than sitting in one spot. Especially indoors. How these fancy gents managed to look so calm and cool only added to his restlessness. He hung his Stetson on his left knee, mostly to have something to do with his hands. Now, as the banker explained the terms of the agreement, Josh stared hard at the blood-red Persian rug under his boots and searched his mind for something to else to focus on… anything other than the wretched document that would transfer ownership of Neville land to this… foreigner. Moving the hat to his right knee, he remembered the day he’d bought it, and how he’d bought another just like it a year later, when Lazy N business put him in back in Garland. One for riding the range, one for his wedding.
Strange, he thought, how Sadie could appear in his mind’s eye from out of nowhere, even after two long years without her….
He forced her from his mind. This get-together was more than painful enough without dwelling on the most agonizing period of his life.
Josh exhaled a harsh sigh. Hopefully, the banker and the Swede hadn’t heard the tremor in it. He blamed the pounding heat for his agitation. His empty stomach. The ten-day ride from Eagle Pass that left him so bone-tired he couldn’t sleep, even on the hotel’s pillow-soft mattress. A body would think that an establishment with Persian rugs and velvet curtains could afford to provide water for businessmen, he thought, loosening his string tie as Griffen asked yet another inane question. Father, give me the strength to keep from grabbing those papers and hot-footing it out of here without making the deal!
Sadly, his woolgathering did little to distract him from the grim truth.
He’d been the one dissenting vote at the family meeting where the loathsome decision to sell turned downright odious when, as the only Neville with a law degree, overseeing the transaction fell to him. Josh groaned inwardly. What a sorry state of affairs, he thought, leaning forward to hide the tears that burned in his eyes. He loved every blessed acre—especially those acres—that made up The Lazy N. He’d built a small but solid home for Sadie and himself on that section of the ranch. Letting it go hurt almost as much as burying Sadie.
Griffen, God bless him, had been the one to suggest that Josh hold on to the precious acre where she and his newborn twins lay. “In your shoes,” he’d said, pale eyes darkening a shade when Josh asked permission to visit their graves, “I’d be a basket case. We’ll build a fence around the land,” he’d added, “to make sure your little family is never disturbed.” But Josh knew, even as he’d nodded his agreement, that crossing Griffen property to reach his family would only heap one misery atop another.
Elbows balanced on his knees, Josh grabbed his Stetson and spun it round and round as on the other side the window, three men and a woman dismounted sweaty horses. They looked as tense and restless as he felt, and he wondered what ugly family business had brought them to the bank today.
“If you’ll just sign here, Mr. Neville…,” Schaeffer said, redirecting Josh’s attention.
He accepted the banker’s fountain pen. As its freshly-inked nib hovered over the document, a bead of sweat trickled down his spine, and in that moment, he felt a disturbing kinship with the fat hen his mama roasted for last Sunday’s dinner.
Outside, the wind blew steadily, swirling street grit into tiny twisters that skittered up the parched road before bouncing under buggies and scurrying into alleyways. Even the burning breeze would feel better than this choking heat. “Mind if I open the window? I’m sweatin’ like a—“
Schaeffer peered over the rims of his gold-trimmed spectacles. “I’d much rather you didn’t. The wind is likely to scatter our paperwork hither and yon.”
Hither and yon, indeed. He’d read sayings like that in books, but what sort of person actually used that sort of language in everyday—
On the other side of the banker’s office door, shuffling footsteps and coarse whispers interrupted his thoughts. Inspired a stern frown on Schaeffer’s heat-reddened face, too. “I declare,” he said through clenched teeth, “I can’t take my eyes off that fool assistant of mine for fifteen minutes without some sort of mayhem erupting.” And blotting his forehead with a starched white hanky, he continued grumbling. “Looks like I’ll have no choice but to replace him.” Shoving the eyeglasses higher, he lifted his chin and one bushy gray eyebrow…a not-so-subtle cue that Josh still hadn’t signed the paper.
So gritting his teeth, he inhaled a sharp breath, scratched his name on the thin black line, and traded the pen for the bank note.
On his feet now, the Swede grabbed Josh’s hand. “T’ank you,” he said, shaking it, “been a pleasure doing business wit’ you, Neville.”
Unable to make himself say ‘likewise’, Josh forced a stiff smile and pocketed the check. “You bet.” God willing, perhaps the worst was behind the family now.
The burnished brass pendulum of the big clock behind the banker’s desk swayed left with an audible tick as the men prepared to go their separate ways…
… swung right as gunshots rang out in the lobby.
Schaeffer and Griffen ran for the door, but a flurry of activity drew Josh’s attention back to the window.
It was the foursome he’d seen earlier, now scrambling onto their saddles. A lumpy burlap sack rested on the meaty rump of the biggest man’s mount, and sunlight glinted from his pistol.
Now he knew why the bunch had looked so nervous. They’d robbed the bank! He withdrew his sidearm, pulled back the hammer with one hand and threw open the window with the other, hoping to get off a shot or two before the robber were swallowed up by the cyclone of grit kicked up by their horses’ hooves.
Perched on the sill, he took aim at the shoulder of the fattest bandit just as the woman’s pony veered right, putting her square in the center of his gun sight.
She looked back as Josh released the pressure on the sweat-slicked trigger.
Quick as you please, she faced front again, her cornflower blue skirt flapping like a tattered sail as she was swallowed up by the thick cloud of dust.
That really ought to whet the reader's appetite for the story. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, and here are links to my blog and web site:
Thanks again, Lena! Yer a peach!
Loree, it's a real joy to spend this time with you.
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