Today we welcome Loree Lough.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Loree Lough: Spending time with family is my #1 love, especially the grandorables! If you don’t find me in the gardens, I’ll be inside, cooking or baking, or driving my husband nuts by updating something wood with a fresh new coat of paint. (What is it with men and wood, anyway? LOL) Art stuff, like pen-and-ink drawings, watercolor and acrylic paintings, and pencil sketches are fun and relaxing (and saves me a lot of money, since I give ‘em away for Christmas!).
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Loree Lough: To date, I have a total of 115 books in print. Well, that isn’t exactly true. #114 comes out this winter and #115 releases in January. It’s a mix of things: Historical, historical romance, historical for children (nonfiction and fiction), contemporary romance, women’s fiction, general fiction. I believe most authors will say their works deliver a message of some sort. My themes range from forgiveness to acceptance to redemption and more. Prior to novel writing, I spent a decade or so as a ‘beat reporter’ for local and regional newspapers and magazines, and as a ‘stringer’ and a freelancer, too. I’ve also ghost-written quite a few articles for professionals in their trade and technical publications. At last count, my byline appeared at the top of more than 2,500 articles (with about 200 more ‘ghosted’.)
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Loree Lough: As a matter of fact, I have several WIPs. One, a historical set 1800s in the Grand River area of Michigan, centers around a Romeo and Juliet type story…an Indian girl and a Swedish immigrant. Another, also a historical, is set in 1890s Montana, and features a powerful land baron whose greed nearly costs him everything. The third project is a thriller; the central character is a wealthy psychopath. <cringe!>
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Loree Lough: My most challenging work to date? My last release, 50 Hours. It’s the story of a troubled man who, after a DUI, is sentenced to 50 hours of community service, which he serves at a hospice center in Savannah, GA for no reason other than it’s walking distance from his dilapidated house trailer. There, he meets a woman diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Their relationship changes them both—while teaching us all that friendship truly has healing powers. In addition to the emotionally charged nature of the storyline, halfway through the creation of this project, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (incurable bone/marrow cancer), which changed how I approached everything related to the story.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Loree Lough: A ton! On average, before I type TITLE and CHAPTER ONE, I spend 80 hours researching significant details for my novels. I interview experts. Study maps. Read scores of articles and books. Despite all that, I always, always find things as I’m writing that require more research. So the hours invested rises to something like 100 hours per book. While that seems daunting and tedious to some, I find the work invigorating. I learn a lot. And it feels good, knowing that readers can trust me to provide accurate, realistic details related to history, careers, and more.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Loree Lough: It probably seems like a copout to say I have a long list of favorite authors. After reading the last two books by Cindy Sproles, I find myself yearning for her next book.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Loree Lough: It’s more accurate to say that my family supports me, 100%, and always has. But to be honest? My encouragement comes from with…and from God!
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Loree Lough: Hundreds of readers have written to say that they identified with a particular character, a situation, a resolution to conflict. They tell me that my work reminds them of Nicholas Sparks’ books, Mary Jo Putney’s work, and Karen Kingsbury’s, too. I’m flattered. Honored. And I think the reason for the comparisons is that I dig deep into the emotional elements of every novel.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Loree Lough: Writing is my job, my only job, so I work every day. Yes, even weekends and holidays—except for the hours when the family is gathering for a special meal. I’m an early riser, so after a half hour or so of light exercise, I tackle my to-do list of household and yard chores. Once that’s complete, I shower and change out of my PJs (well, most days, anyway), and dig in. On many occasions, I forget to eat!
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Loree Lough: Experience has taught me that five years will pass quickly. I expect to keep right on doing what I’m doing now. Top of my bucket list: Seeing one of the seven book-to-movie options my novels have earned actually become a film!
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Loree Lough: All the usual stuff: Read, read, read, and write, write, write. Beyond that, I tell my students to join a critique group, sign up for classes, read how-to books, and attend writers workshops, seminars, and conferences where they can network with their peers…and glean career-building information from those who’ve gone before them. I caution them, though, to take care which advisors to heed: If a teacher hasn’t published anything, or has just one or two books on the shelves, students are better off seeking out an instructor who has achieved writing goals by dint of hard work, who’ve dedicated years to their craft, whose awards and reviews are proof they aren’t “one trick ponies.” Why is this so critical? Because I’ve talked with far too many students who poured their hearts into novels and short stories, only to discover that their “teachers” didn’t have any business doling out advice. Some of them gave up writing altogether. Others found themselves rewriting entire novels in order to correct the misleading “lessons” given by those so-called teachers. It’s heartbreaking, and can be avoided if writers take the time to research the instructors.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Loree Lough: Nearly every day, I receive an email from a reader who says “I read your book in a day! I’m so sorry, because I know it took you far longer than that to write it!” Without exception, I thank them for the compliment: If the book is tedious, contrived, poorly-plotted, etc., and requires readers to revisit passages time and again to figure out what’s going on, who’s ‘talking,’ it means the writer hasn’t done his/her job. A quick read is proof that the author has crafted a well-woven tale that isn’t confusing…that can be read and understood quickly.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Loree Lough: This is a passage from 50 Hours, #113 in my books-on-the-shelves lineup:
Nodding, Aubrey guided her mother to a stop.
“Just look at that,” she said, pointing at the coral bells and impatiens planted on either side of the wide flagstone path. “Would you mind very much if we sat here for a minute? I’d love to make some sketches, you know, in case I want to add them to the painting of Dusty.”
“On a sailboat?”
“Why not? Michael’s friend Joe has a sailboat, and his wife keeps plants on board.”
“You’re the artist.”
They sat side by side on a stone bench.
“What are these called, I wonder?” Agnes asked, lifting a puffy blossom.
“What’s this?” Aubrey teased. “The vice president of the Savannah Ladies Garden Club doesn’t know?”
Agnes clucked her tongue. “I don’t know everything garden related, you know.”
“It’s an oak-leafed hydrangea. I had them in my back yard, remember?”
“Oh. Yes, I do remember. They were quite lovely. But then, your entire yard was lovely.” She squeezed Aubrey’s hand. “I’m sure the couple who bought the house appreciate the hours you put into it.”
“Michael hated them, especially when the petals began to drop in the fall. Said they looked like trash, littering the lawn, but I loved the way they looked, nestled between the blades of grass . . . ”
“I have an idea! Why don’t I drive you over there so you can see them? I’m sure the new owners won’t mind.”
Aubrey had no desire to see someone else’s car parked in her driveway, another woman’s curtains in the multi-paned windows . . . more evidence of all that cancer had taken from her.
She shook the image from her mind. “Do you have plans this afternoon, or can you stay for lunch?”
“I’d like nothing better. Unless they’re serving that tasteless, rubbery chicken again.”
“I know, right? The stuff is better suited for a clown act.” She pretended to bop Agnes’s head with a rubber hen.
Giggling like schoolgirls, they startled a blue jay from its roost in a nearby shrub and, as it took flight, azalea petals rained to the ground.
“That’s Bobbitt, my new boyfriend. He sits in the tree outside my room, squawking. Guess he got bored with that and decided to become a stalker and follow me around the grounds.”
Agnes clucked her tongue again. “Well, be sure to keep your window closed. Birds are riddled with parasites, you know, some small enough to flit right through the screens.”
Aubrey stifled a smirk. “Yes, Mama.” Warm, sweet moments like these were rare these days, and she committed this one to memory. Was her mother doing the same?
“You know,” Agnes said, looking up at the old mansion, “I’ve always admired the architecture of this place.”
It would be hard not to appreciate the regal beauty of the 1840s estate house and its surrounding acreage. Overcup oaks stood on either side of it, like silent and stately sentries. An arbor of magnolias shaded the winding drive that brought visitors from the road to the grand entrance, and mighty marble pillars supported the curved portico that gleamed in the noonday sun. How it had escaped Yankee cannonballs was anyone’s guess, but thanks to the care of a fastidious maintenance crew, every brick and stone had remained intact.
“It’s quite a sight to behold, don’t you think?”
Aubrey sighed, more deeply this time. “Yes, I imagine it’s as good a place as any to die.”
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Photo and book covers, attached.