When she isn’t writing, you can find her in the kitchen (cooking up things that explain her lifetime Weight Watchers membership), the garden (killing any bug that dares to startle her), painting/sketching (one of her pen-and-ink drawings hangs in the home of actress Lea Thompson), and reading other authors’ books. Read her “writerly rantings” at www.theloughdown.blogspot.com and her monthly column, “Loree’s Lough Down,” for Christian Fiction Online Magazine.
Loree and her husband split their time between a little house in the Baltimore suburbs and a really little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains. She loves to hear from her readers and personally answers every letter sent to
http://www.loreelough.com, at Facebook, Shoutlife, and Twitter.
Maverick Heart(back jacket blurb)
by Loree Lough
Boston-born nurse LEVEE O’REILLY and her doctor husband are headed to Mexico to open a medical clinic when their stagecoach is attacked. There on a barren stretch of Texas road, the infamous outlaw Frank Michaels kills Liam and leaves Levee for dead. All alone now, she makes her way to Eagle Pass, where she’s forced to trade her nurse’s cap for a teacher’s apron. In no time, she’s so completely devoted to her students that she has no time for romance.
Rancher DANIEL NEVILLE has battled doubts and distrust for most of his life. Wracked with guilt over the death of his twin sister, he believes the scars and limp sustained during a stampede are penance for the sins of his past. Dan dedicates himself to serving his family and working with the horses on the Lazy N. Marriage isn’t even on his to-do list, and he sees no reason to add it.
When a coincidental meeting brings Levee and Dan together, they’re awakened to a long-ignored desire for love and acceptance. Have they actually found it in one another’s arms? And can these two mavericks accept the plans God has for their lives?
(Available at your favorite bookstores and online at Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble.)
1. Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
Before I dive into the answers, I want to thank you for inviting me to participate. Yer a peach, and I appreciate the opportunity to get to know you and your readers better!
And now to answer your question ….
As a kid, my family couldn’t afford vacations, and so I “got away from it all” through the pages of books. And oh, the wonderful places I visited, from Europe and the British Isles to African safaris and the jungles of South America. I solved crimes with Nancy Drew and participated in the adventures of The Hardy Boys. Fell in love with Black Beauty and White Fang, and learned to cook thanks to Betty Crocker.
But it never occurred to me to write my own stories until my husband’s job took us to Richmond, Virginia, and I volunteered to write a neighborhood column (for the sole purpose of jump-starting the kids’ introduction to the area). Who knew the editors would like my “style” and pay me to write articles for the paper, or that the editors of other publications would see those features and make assignments to write for them!
By the time we were transferred back to Baltimore, my “clip book” was bulging with things I’d written for Virginia newspapers and magazines, and when I showed it to the editors here, they made assignments, too!
And then I began to notice a disturbing trend: Facts were routinely changed to appease advertisers. I said to myself, “If you’re gonna write fiction, why not just sit down and craft a novel!” The result was Pocketful of Love, which won the “Readers’ Choice Award” that year for Best Contemporary.
By then, I’d succumbed to a full-blown case of Fiction Addiction, and the rest, as they say, is history!
2. What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
My fascination with cowboys started when I was a little girl, sitting cross-legged in front of the TV, watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hop-a-long Cassidy, and Wild Bill Hickok tame the West, so it wasn’t a huge stretch to write about this high-action period in history.
3. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I’d have to say that every character in all of my novels is based—at least to some degree—on real people. But never fear: I always change hair and eye color, height and weight, etc. for the bad guys and girls!
4. What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?
The research for From Ashes to Honor, the first novel in my “First Responders” series from Abingdon, completely captivated me. The story begins in New York City, September 11th, 2001, and picks up ten years later to follow two people who were heavily impacted by the attacks on our great nation. Reading the reports, and talking with first responders and the family members of those who died that tragic day, were stark reminders that patriotism and heroism are alive and well in the good ol’ U.S. of A.! This one will be released in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, so stay tuned for the video book trailer for this one!
5. Where do you go to do your research?
I spend some time at the local branch of the county library, but for the most part, I toodle around on the Internet from right here in my humble office.
6. How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?
It usually doesn’t take long to get the “bones” of a story down on paper. For that, I use a pencil and paper to describe the characters, the setting and time period, and the general storyline for the novel.
Is the process the same for every book you write?
Pretty much, yeah! Those vague-and-hazy first pages soon become more detailed as I fill out my trusty Timeline. (If you’re a writer and you want a copy of it, email me and I’ll send it to you!)
How long does it take you to write a book?
That can vary, depending on whether I’m writing a contemporary or a historical. As a general rule, though, it takes me anywhere from one to three months to complete a novel.
7. Are you currently working on any new book projects?
You betcha! Right now, I have four hard-and-fast deadlines … two contemporaries and one historical, set for release between now and the summer of 2012.
8. Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book?
A lot of my writer pals couldn’t write Word One without an outline of some sort. Others claim outlines are too confining and restrict the creative process. I think even those authors have a plan of some sort before they position themselves in front of the computer. And that, I guess, is the Get Started advice I’d give the new authors: Make a plan of some sort, so you won’t waste a lot of time (and frustrate yourself!) with needless rewrites.
Any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
If you don’t already have a web site, get one! Agents and editors are busy, busy people, but they will take time to visit a web site if a manuscript catches their attention. If you can’t afford to hire someone to create one for you, visit the web pages of your favorite authors to get ideas. Make note of what you like and dislike about their pages, and then take advantage of the free spaces available in a slew of places online to make your own.
9. What is your favorite work of literary fiction and why?
One of my favorite books is East of Eden by Steinbeck. Every couple of years, I’ll re-read it, and, without exception, I find myself dawdling in that last chapter … because I don’t want to say goodbye to the characters!
Do you have a favorite literary author?
Oh, there are dozens! But if I had to single out just one, I’d have to say Jack London.
10. Who is your favorite contemporary author?
Dean Koontz! I skip over the gory stuff, and lose myself in his talent for creating deeply emotional stories. His characters are multi-dimensional, and I’ve learned a lot about character development, reading his works.
Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?
The last book I read was The Doomsday Key by James Rollins. Whoa. Some story!
11. What’s your writing schedule like?
I’m an early riser (5:30 a.m. most days), so after brewing a pot of coffee, I head down to my office and spend a half hour or so, reading/replying to emails and updating my Facebook and Twitter pages. At 7 or so, I’m ready for a short break … during which I tidy the house, throw some laundry into the machines, make the bed, and hit the showers. By 8-8:30, I’m at my desk, working.
When do you find time to write?
Writing is my job. My only job. So I make a point of sitting at my desk, working on whichever novel is due next, for at least 6 hours a day. When I'm on a tight deadline, I often put in 12-15 hours a day, even on weekends!
For me, the toughest part of working at home is ignoring the telephone, the doorbell, and the dust bunnies that gather under the furniture!
12. How did you find your publisher?
I have, at any given time, 3 or 4 of them. I found them by hanging around in bookstores, by reading other authors’ novels, and by talking with other writers. Once I had names/addresses in hand, I’d make it my business to find out their submission preferences … and follow them to the letter! Then came the hard part: Waiting for their response!
Recently, I was privileged to sign with a well-respected agent who does all that for me, and it’s a blessing to know my future as a writer is safe in his capable hands!
What was your journey to publication like?
My first novel hit the shelves in 1994, and Maverick Heart(#77) will be released any day. Between then and now, I tried to divide my work days into segments: Learning and honing my craft; researching and plotting; writing and submitting; marketing and promotions. By the grace of God, I managed to get 4 or 5 (and sometimes 6) books out every year, and, thanks to loyal readers, that pace remains pretty much the same. (So a big, heartfelt, sincere thank you to God and my readers!)
13. Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?
Don’t tell anybody, but I tend to stand up and act out the stuff I’m trying to describe for my readers. And I “talk” the lines of dialog out loud, too.
14. How have your friends and family received your career as an author?
You know something? I’ve never asked them what they think about what I do for a living! I guess they aren’t any more surprised to hear I’ve taken yet another “artistic” turn in my life than they were when I announced I was “hitting the road” to (literally) sing for my supper!
Are they supportive?
Yes, they most certainly are. (At least, most of the time!) If they weren’t? No way I could produce 4-6 books a year! So, a great big heartfelt, sincere thanks to them, too!
15. What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?
I use way, way, way too many ellipses and m-dashes in my work!