Loree is another dear friend of mine. Welcome, Loree. Why did you become an author?
Like so many other teenage girls, I earned my spending money by babysitting other people's kids. (Keeping an eye on my 4 younger siblings was considered earning my keep. Bet you never heard that before!
) I developed a talent for keeping even the most unruly kids in line by telling what one neighbor boy called "funny and weird stories."
Flash forward (quite a few
) years, to when my husband's job took us to Richmond, VA, requiring me to give up my job here in . Once we'd settled in, I needed something to occupy my daytime hours, and answered an ad for "someone to write a neighbor column." It didn't pay, but what better way to introduce the kids to people their age and learn my way around town! Soon, the editor assigned other stories (and I got paid for those!), and once editors at area publications read them, they called with assignments, too. Within 6 months, I was a bona fide freelance writer. Baltimore
And then my husband's job brought us back to
. I showed my 100+ article "clip book" to editors here, and picked up where I'd left off. Years later, I began to notice a disturbing trend: Editorial changes made to articles' facts to appease advertisers. I figured if I was going to write fiction, I might as well admit it…and pen a novel. Baltimore
The result was my first book for Barbour's Heartsong Presents line, Pocketful of Promises, which won "Readers' Choice Best Contemporary" award in 1994. It didn't take long for me to figure out that the Lord didn't bless me with a talent for telling stories just to entertain rowdy young'uns!
If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream job?
I believe it'd be a hoot to tend the trees, plants, and flowers at area malls. Think of it: Getting paid to (literally) smell the roses, and walk around with dirt on the knees of my jeans!
If you could have lived at another time in history, what would it be and why?
When people ask what famous person, living or dead, I'd like to meet, I always say Thomas Jefferson. I think being an eyewitness of sorts to what the Founding Fathers intended for this great nation of ours would have been well worth the trade-off of modern conveniences. (But just between you and me? Of them all, I'd miss the Internet most!)
What place in the
have you not visited that you would like to? United States
I'd like to spend a few nights in a tent at
Yellowstone so that I could stare into the expansive inky sky, listening to the wolves howl as they did hundreds of years ago.
How about a foreign country you hope to visit?
Wow. That's a real dilemma: I'm half Italian, and would love to return to "the land of my people," but I'd like to go back to
, too…. Ireland
What lesson has the Lord taught you recently?
The importance of “forgive and forget.”
Tell us about the featured book.
This story was inspired by 9/11, a date that will remain in Americans' minds and hearts forever. I kept praying for a way to thank those brave men and women who risked—and in some cases, gave—their lives to save others. And then one night, the Lord woke me at 3 a.m. with the idea for the First Responders series. (Each novel features a different type of first responder; in the first, the hero was a NY cop who, after much tragedy and trauma, leaves the City and becomes and EMT in
.) I've given my word to donate 25% of my proceeds from the books to several very worthy organizations (Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Wounded Warriors, etc.), so I have more reason than ever before to hope this series will be a success. Baltimore
Please give us the first page of the book.
From Ashes to Honor
September 11, 2001
Like every morning, the sweet scents of cinnamon and mocha mixed with drug store aftershave and pricey cologne. And, like every morning,
ordered a large black coffee with a shot of espresso. Austin
A strange vibration rumbled above the whir of blenders that busily whipped milk into froth for cappuccinos and lattes. A
trash truck, or a collision in the street, he wondered as his cell phone chirped. It only took a quick glance at the caller i.d. block to inspire a low groan. New York City
Eddy smirked. “Your brother?”
“Third time this week.”
“Sheesh. And it’s only Tuesday.”
Becky, the counter girl, held out one hand. “That’ll be a buck fifty, cutie pie.”
“Let me guess,” Eddy said, “he wants you to get a safer job, one with a more predictable schedule, so you can spend more time with your mom.”
“Bingo. All I can say is, thank God for unlimited minutes. The two messages he left yesterday?”
pocketed the phone and cut loose with a two-note whistle. “To call ‘em long is an understatement.” Austin
“You know what they say about paybacks ….”
“Well, all I can say is, rambling messages must be in the Finley DNA.”
said, grinning as Becky handed him his coffee. Austin
“No, seriously, Finley.” He looked left and right and waved
closer, as if preparing to divulge a state secret. “Listen up, dude … there was a big story about birth order on the news this morning.” He shrugged. “This stuff with Avery? It’s all ‘cause he sees you as his baby brother.” Austin
“Aw, gimme a break. He ‘s five stinkin’ minutes older than me.”
“Hmpf. Big difference, five minutes. Made him ju-u-ust older and wiser enough to become a hot shot Wall Street investment banker.” He gave
the once-over, from close-cropped blond hair to spit-polished black shoes. “And develop the opinion that he needs to watch over you. Y’know, since you’re only one of many tiny little cogs that make the City’s gears—“ Austin
Becky wiggled a forefinger at Eddy. “Your turn, honey pot.”
He leaned a forearm on the counter and frowned. “Holey moley, Beckster, you gotta quit partyin’ all night, ‘cause shoo-eee and wowza, dudette, you are some kinda green around the gills this mornin’!”
She blew a baseball-sized purple bubble and popped it with her front teeth. “Y’know, Eddy, some days it’s hard to believe you found a woman willing to marry you.”
Eddy snickered, then ordered decaf with double cream, pretending not to hear as Austin and the rest of his cop pals agreed with Becky. The good-natured taunting came to a halt when a second rumble shook the windows and rattled the mugs, stacked pyramid fashion on glass shelves behind the counter. For a blink in time, the West Street Coffee Shop fell completely quiet. Then a chorus of buzzing cell phones, radio bleeps, and the sputtering of dispatchers summoning all available personnel to The World Trade Center ended the eerie silence.
Amid the clamor of cops and firefighters charging into the street,
disregarded a second call from his twin. Tossing Eddy the keys to their cruiser, he growled “You drive for a change. I’m afraid I’ll take my bad mood out on some ‘Got my license in a gumball machine’ sightseer at Battery Park.” Austin
Siren blaring and lights flashing, they peeled away from the curb. “Smart decision,” he said, honking and shaking a fist at the slow-moving taxi that blocked him from the destination, just half a mile away.
Emergency vehicles, city busses, cabs and limos joined the rows of cars and delivery vans that rolled to a dead stop. “What’s the holdup?” Eddy demanded. “Can’t those clowns see that the light is green?”
“I hate these stupid tests. It’d make a lot more sense for the big shots at city hall do stuff like this when the roads aren’t clogged with traffic.”
shook his head. “But no-o-o, we’ve gotta put on a good show for the tourists, y’know.” Austin
“Guess we can’t complain about getting paid to sit on our duffs.”
“Yeah? Well, I can complain … about these exhaust fumes, for starters.”
The radio buzzed and hummed with steady static, and
beat a fist on the dash. “Oh. Great. Now this piece of junk decides to die, leaving us clueless about what’s going on at WTC.” Austin
“I hate to break it to ya, pard, but you were clueless before we—“ Eddy draped his upper body over the steering wheel and looked up. “What. Is. That?”
scrubbed the inside of the windshield with the heel of his hand. “Turn on the defogger, genius.” Austin
But the murk was outside. Fierce, roiling white smoke stained the blue early-autumn sky. “I have a feeling this is no ordinary test,” he said grimly. “We’d better hot-foot it the rest of the way.”
“You’re right. Ain’t like we’re gonna block traffic ….”
Side by side, the partners jogged toward the Towers, and the closer they got, the harder it became to see through the smog.
“Must be one heckuva fire to make a mess like this.”
In his pocket,
’s cell phone buzzed, and he ignored it for the third time in five minutes. When he got hold of his twin later … man, was Avery gonna get a piece of his mind .... Austin
Wow! I really want to read this book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Before I answer that, I'd like to take a moment to thank you,
Lena, for yet again providing encouragement to your fellow authors through your well-loved blog! You are truly earning feathers for your angel wings, dear lady, every time you perform this generous and loving gesture!
Readers can find me in all the usual places (Facebook, Twitter, Shoutlife), and of course there's my blog (http://www.theloughdown.blogspot.com). I've written a monthly column for the popular Christian Fiction Online Magazine called "Loree's Lough Down." (Original, aren't I? LOL) I'm preparing to update and revamp my web site (http://www.loreelough.com) and would love to get some feedback from all of you! Feel free to visit, have a look around, then drop me a note while you're there to let me know what changes you'd like to see! (And if I take you up on your suggestion, I'll show my gratitude by sending you a free book!)
So wonderful to have you back on my blog, Loree. We'll have to do this again.
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