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Interview With Loree Lough

It's my pleasure to introduce Loree Lough, an award-winning author who's been a personal favorite for many years. Loree has authored 74 books over 15 years of writing novels, short stories and articles in both the CBA and ABA markets.

Loree, you're a prolific writer who seems to be able to cross all boundaries. Is there something particular you've wanted to write but for whatever reason haven't attempted or succeeded?

I've always dreamed of writing a saga--ala Michener--a story that introduces readers to the members of one family, generation by generation. I've accumulated scads of research and crafted the main character sketches, and from time to time I revisit the story, adding to it in dribs and drabs. Alas, though I always ask Santa to put 48 hour days into my stocking, he hasn't delivered. Hmpf.

While researching for this interview, I discovered you've authored Children's and Young Adult books. Why don't you promote these books on your website?
All four titles [Dream Seekers and Fire by Night (fiction) and Nathan Hale and Lord Baltimore (nonfiction)] are included on the Books page of my web site, but since they were published so many years ago, I don't have space to highlight them. They continue to sell very well (to schools and libraries), but as "work for hire" books, I don't earn any royalties on the titles. (Oh the strange decisions we make early in our careers to "make our mark"! LOL)

With your huge on-line presence, speaking engagements and book signings, how do you manage to write a book every few months if you're never home?
Oh, I'm home a lot! During these past two years, I've cut back on 'away from home' stuff in a big way. Now, I mostly only accept speaking engagements that are close to home (and don't require overnight stays). And much as I hated to do it, I gave up teaching at the local community colleges, too.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Faith is an enormous part of my life, so it naturally finds its way into everything I do, whether it's baking a cake ("Please, Lord, don't let it sag in the middle!") to doing laundry ("Help me find the mate to that missing sock!") to babysitting my grandkids ("Lord, give me the strength to push that swing, one more time!"). In all seriousness, though, I believe that when walking in the Spirit is such a routine part of a writer's world, that mindset can't help but make it into the stories s/he writes!

Since the Almighty can count the hairs on each of His children's heads, He knows I'm not cut out to travel to wild jungles or arid deserts to spread His word. So He blessed me, instead, with a talent for writing. Letters from readers prove that in addition to touching the hearts of born again Christians, He's also using my stories to change the lives of those who don't yet know Him. And every single letter gives me the heart and the energy to keep my fingers curled over the keyboard!

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
Every time I open a letter from a reader who shares her own life story and tells me how one of my books has touched her life, that is a "greatest" moment.

What makes your style of storytelling unique?
Readers tell me I have a knack for getting into the heads of characters--heroes, in particular--so I guess I'd have to say "realistic, believable man talk" makes me unique.

Finish this sentence: The most important thing an aspiring writer can do is... ask the Lord how He plans to use your gift to spread His message. Prayer is a writer's most powerful tool, for it will bring everything into focus.

All the usual 'published author tips' are, as the Brits say, "Spot on." But one thing I always add to the advice is this: Don't become so focused on writing "the book of your heart" and "what you know" that you forget that the end product needs to be salable. If it isn't, how can you hope to deliver His Word to your readers!

People always ask where writers get their ideas, and most say "Everywhere!" Where do you get your ideas?
Y'know, I don't think I've ever given a speech or done an interview when that question wasn't asked. Those who answer by saying "Ideas are everywhere" are correct. But I take it a step further. Yes, just about any situation or circumstance can generate the basic idea for a story. But most of those ideas quickly fall by the wayside when put to the "And then what happens" test.

Let's say your idea was born at an ice cream stand, watching a young father interact with his little girl. "Hey! I could write about a guy who's a single dad...." Yes, you most certainly can. But there are thousands of single dad books on the shelves; how will you turn your idea into a story that hasn't already been told?

I view The Idea as the skeleton of every good story. Once Mr. Bones is standing quietly in a corner of my office, it's my job to tack on everything else he'll need to become a living, breathing, salable story. Sometimes, The Idea provides the major organs, but it isn't strong enough to flesh out (pardon the pun) for critical things like muscles and arteries, tendons, the brain--and most important of all--the heart! So yes, ideas certainly are everywhere, but only a select few can pass that all-important test!

Any parting words?
Just this little prayer for those whose dreams include a book, written by them, on the shelves:

O Father, bless Your obedient servants with the tools they'll need to share the stories You will inspire. Shower them with abundant faith in their talents, so that when rejections arrive, they won't lose heart. Open their minds to the notion that perseverance and persistence will pay Your time. Grant them enough hours in every day to craft robust tales that will bring glory to Your name. Surround them with true-blue friends who will shore up their confidence, and cooperative families who'll support them on their road to publication. Gently remind them that while there will be potholes and detours on that road, You will walk with them every step of the way, and that You will reward their dedication. And when at last they reach their destination, give them humble and honest hearts, and remind them to acknowledge, always and everywhere, that You are the original writer...of the greatest story every told...and that they are blessed, indeed, to share shelf space with that good book. I ask these things in your most holy name, Amen.

Thanks for sharing with us, Loree!
Thanks for inviting me! It's been a hoot, and I hope to have a chance to meet every one of you in person, soon!

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