Today, we have- wait for it- the amazing Loree Lough in the laboratory! Can you believe it? My heart is racing with excitement! If I’m dreaming, please don’t wake me up.
Loree is the author of wonderful books such as A Man of Honor and For Love of Eli. She once sang for her supper, performing across the U.S. and Canada. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly, she writes (99+ novels that earned hundreds of industry and “Readers’ Choice” awards, 4- and 5-star reviews, and 5 book-to-movie options).
Loree enjoys sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry. Her comedic approach makes her a favorite at writers’ organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the U.S. and abroad.
A writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (See “Giving Back” @ http://www.loreelough.com to see the list.) She loves hearing from her readers, and answers every letter, personally.
Exerpt: For Love of Eli
by Loree Lough
Crouching, Taylor held Eli’s face in her hands. “Have a great time,” she said, kissing his forehead, “and I’ll see you on Sunday.”
She didn’t remind Eli to brush his teeth and take his vitamins. Didn’t tell him to get to bed on time or zip his jacket if he went outside, the way his buddies claimed
their exes did. Taylor’s behavior wasn’t anything new; Connor had witnessed this cheery demeanor every other Friday. Her relaxed behavior and positive words told Eli that not only was he in good hands with his uncle, but that she would be fine while he was gone. It told Reece something, too: If his buddies’ had exes like Taylor, they probably wouldn’t be exes.
He realized that Eli had been watching him and Taylor. Left brow up and right eye narrowed, the better word was scrutinize. Oh to know what was going on in that remarkable little brain, Reece thought, grinning. He didn’t have to wonder long, because Eli chose that moment to slap a palm over his eyes. “Oh good grief. If you’re gonna kiss her, just get it over with, will ya please?”
Taylor’s gasp echoed in the big foyer. She looked sweeter and prettier than usual—if that was possible—blushing like a schoolgirl as one hand shaded her eyes. Reece felt obliged to get her off the hook. Putting put both hands on Eli’s shoulders, he turned him toward the front door. “Grab your backpack, little nut, and let’s get a-move on.” But even as he said it, Reece knew that his words got him off the hook, too, because for a weird minute there, the kid’s suggestion sounded mighty tempting.
Without skipping a beat, Eli asked permission to bring his ninja soldiers. “I know right where they are,” he said, looking up at Reece. “It won’t take me long to get them. And they’re little, so they’ll fit in my bag, no problem.”
Reece looked to Taylor for guidance on that one, because she’d bought the toy soldiers.
“Of course you can bring them, if—”
Eli was halfway up the stairs before she finished with “—if it’s all right with your uncle.” Then she laughed, making Reece wonder why he’d never noticed before how much music there was in every sound that passed her lovely lips.
“I hope he doesn’t bring them all,” she said, “because he has dozens of those crazy things.”
Reece pictured the overflowing toy box in his family room, and the one just like it up in Eli’s room. “And dinosaurs.”
She nodded. “And Hot Wheels.”
“Right. They’re everywhere.” He chuckled. “Like crayons.”
“Oh, no kidding! I mean, seriously, does Crayola intend to replicate every color in the entire world?”
“Sure seems that way, doesn’t it. And if they do, no doubt Eli will want every shade.”
Smalltalk. Usually, he did his best to avoid it. Today? Reece didn’t know what to make of the fact that he was actually enjoying it.
Two ninjas tumbled down the stairs, and right behind them, a fat red crayon that stopped rolling when it bumped into the baseboard, right where the sewing basket had sat, earlier. He remembered thinking that it looked a lot like the one his grandmother used to keep in her spare bedroom, right down to the little wooden balls that served as feet.
“Looks like our boy is conducting a search and rescue mission up there,” Taylor said, rescuing the toys.
Our boy. It surprised him a little, but Reece liked the sound of that. “You’d think there was a herd of elephants up there instead of one small boy,” he said with a glance at the ceiling.
“Makes you wonder about the guy who coined the phrase ‘pitter-patter of little feet’?”
He laughed. “Yeah. If he’d ever met a real live kid, he’d know it’s more like drumbeats.”
“Or the thunder of horses’ hooves.”
They were laughing when Eli raced down the stairs and stood between them, clutching half a dozen ninjas and a handful of crayons to his chest. “What’s so funny?” he asked, looking from Reece to Taylor and back again.
“Well, first of all,” Taylor began, touching a fingertip to Eli’s nose, “how many times have I asked you not to run in the house?”
Shoulders slumped, he exhaled a heavy sigh, then droned “About a hundred thousand million.”
Squatting, Reece said “A hundred thousand million, eh? That’s a lot of times.” Winking, he gently chucked the boy’s chin. “So how ’bout if we quit running indoors, then, ’cause it’d be a shame for that number to reach a hundred thousand million and one.”
Grinning, Eli said “Okay” and stuffed the toys into his backpack. When he finished, he slung the bag over one shoulder. “So where’s your sewing kit?”
“Upstairs, where it belongs,” she said, blushing and looking a bit like a kid, caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar.
“You gonna hem my new jeans while I’m gone?”
A longsuffering groan escaped Eli’s lungs. “Ugh,” he said to Reece, “she’s doing it again….”
One hand on the screen door, he said “Doing what?”
“That ‘I know something you don’t know’ thing that girls always, always do.” Then he faced Taylor. “Okay. So let me have it: What’s ‘second of all?'”
Taylor hugged him again, longer and tighter this time. “Well, I’m sure your uncle has a mountain of toys for you over at his place. Those crayons will probably only get broken in that overstuffed bag of yours. Or lost on the floor of his car, where they’ll melt in the hot sun and mess up his mats.”
“Good point.” He found all but one and dropped them into the cup Taylor made of her upturned palms. “See you Sunday,” he said, popping a kiss to her cheek. “Don’t poke yourself with a needle or anything, ‘k?”
She followed them onto the porch, and promised to be careful.
And something told Reece that he’d see her lop-sided grin and that goofy crayon-fisted goodbye wave in his dreams.
Please help me welcome the beautiful and wonderful Loree to the laboratory!
Welcome, Loree. I’m so honored to have you here! Why don’t we start by telling the folks a little about you? Well, I paid my way through school by singing for my supper. Literally. All over the U.S. and in Canada, usually sitting in the “piano lady’s” chair. Only…I strummed a 6-string Yamaha guitar. I ‘opened’ shows for Country stars of the 60s and 70s (Gatlin Brothers, Dottie West, Faron Young, Marvin Rainwater…and I’m probably the only singer on earth who can say “Tom Jones doesn’t like my version of Danny Boy!”) I’ve been married to my real-life hero for decades, and our beautiful daughters blessed us with a total of 7 grandorables.
Wow, I’m impressed. When and why did you start writing? When my hubby’s job sent us to Richmond, Virginia, I couldn’t decide what to do with my days, and saw an ad in the local paper for someone to write a neighborhood column. The editor liked my style, and started assigning feature stories. Soon editors of other periodicals (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond Surroundings Magazine, etc.) began making assignments, too. When we were transferred back to Baltimore, I showed my “clip book” to editors here, and added to my published articles total (2,500+ at last count). It was when I noticed a disturbing trend (editors altering the facts of certain stories to appease advertisers) that I said “If you’re going to write fiction, why not write a novel!” The answer: Pocketful of Promises, which won the Readers’ Choice Favorite Contemporary that year. And the rest, as they say, is history!
That’s fantastic! I haven’t read your book yet, but A Man of Honor is sitting in my TBR pile and I can’t wait! Who is your favorite author and why? I have several, and they’re all quite different from one another! Sparks, Koontz, Grisham, Steinbeck, Macomber…so many I can’t list them all!
Do you feel that any of those authors inspired your writing? As each of the authors listed above is known for multi-dimensional characters, emotion-packed stories, and absolutely no fear of writing about “issues,” they’ve all inspired me.
Do you feel that your writing is modeled after him/her? Thousands of letters from readers compare my style to all of the authors listed above. Mostly, I think, that’s because I’m not afraid to dig deep, expose the ugly and dark side of human nature…and lead characters back to the light.
That must be a great honor when readers say that to you. What do you hope to accomplish with your writing? My main goal is actually twofold: Entertain and glorify God. After that, I hope to inform and educate, whether it’s about a rare illness or a new treatment for disease, a period in history or a character’s struggle to overcome a tragedy. Finally, I’m determined that my characters change and grow as the story progresses. (And sometimes, they don’t change or grow for the better!)
Traditional or self publishing and why? I have never self-published a book. So far, each has been a traditional print publisher that pays an advance and royalties. I have, however, downloaded one of my formerly traditionally-published books to Kindle (after rights reverted back to my control). Frederick, MD friend/photographer Barb Campbell of Studio 11 Photography designed a new cover for Jake Walker’s Wife, which is available at Amazon.
Tell us about your most recent book and why we should love or hate your characters. When unspeakable tragedy leaves young Eli an orphan, two families are devastated. Taylor, Eli’s aunt and legal guardian, vows to help him remember his mom and dad by creating a memory quilt. As she begins piecing together moments of his parents’ lives, the story of the young family emerges, and Taylor and Eli begin to heal. But Eli’s uncle Reece is slow to let go of the past, and still blames Taylor’s brother for his sister’s death. So, although he has long been attracted to Taylor, Reece keeps a safe distance. Can their shared love for Eli pave the way to forgiveness or will Taylor and Reece be separated by pain?
If your book had a soundtrack, which 5 songs you would include? Wow. That’s a toughie! I think I’d start with “You Can Make It If You Try” by Gene Allison (to deal with healing), “I Forgive You” by Kelly Clarkson (forgiveness), Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (unrequited love), Miranda Lambert’s “Virginia Bluebell” to commemorate the beautiful state of Virginia, where the story is set, and finally Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain.”
Very good songs! I have “I Forgive You” stuck in my head now. Aside from writing or reading, what is your favorite pastime? I love gardening, painting and sketching (some of my pen and in sketches are on Facebook <g>), and spending time at our little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains with our kids and grandorables.
I love how you call them grandorablesl; it’s so cute! What is the one thing you want to do, or the one place you want to go, that you would put at #1 on your bucket list? I’d love to go back to Alaska, again and again. Ireland and Scotland, too. Loved all three! I’d like to ride in a glider airplane to experience the absolute silence of the heavens.
Finally, what else would you like readers to know? I love hearing from my readers. Seriously. I really do! Many, many of the people who wrote to say they liked this or that about my books…and a few who pointed out things they didn’t like…have become dear and cherished friends. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to meet a few of them over the years. God willing, I’ll meet more as the years go by!
I can’t wait until I’ve had the pleasure to formally meet some of my fans. I think when that day comes, I will really feel like an author 🙂 Thank you so much for joining us at the laboratory, Loree. Again, I was very honored to have you as my guest… Which would be why we didn’t torture you too much 🙂 Maybe next time lol
Readers: You can find Loree Lough at the following links.
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