How long have you been writing?
Before I answer, I’d like to thank you, Jason, for inviting me to your blog! I’m honored to be here and grateful for the opportunity to meet your followers!
I started writing articles in 1986. I had collected about 2,200 published features when I decided to try my hand at fiction. My first novel was released in 1994.
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?
No. I actually stumbled into this career when my husband’s job took the family to Richmond. While looking for something to occupy my days and add a few dollars to the family coffers (too cheap/lazy to recertify to teach in Virginia), I accepted a position as a freelance neighborhood correspondent. The editor liked my stuff and started assigning other stories, and after a few months, editors at other papers/magazines were doing the same. Another job transfer brought us back to Baltimore. I loved the work, so I showed my “clip book” to Baltimore/DC editors and voila! A career was born.
My list includes fiction and non-fiction books–historical and contemporary–for kids and adults. With 100 titles, it’s probably easier to skim the list at my website!
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?
Every book has a specific theme (forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance, redemption, etc.), and they’re all a blend of action, adventure, suspense…with a little romance thrown in for flavor. Basically, the books are about people just like you and me, facing the same challenges we face…and finding ways to overcome obstacles by story’s end.
How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?
Every book is the result of some real-life event. Some, I overhear (because I’m a former reporter…nosy, y’know?). Others are the offshoots of things I read in the newspaper or hear on the TV news. Once an event piques my curiosity, it’s a game of “…and then what happened?” or “…and he reacted like this.” Or both!
Are the books based on personal experiences?
I believe to some degree, all authors appear in their own novels. We try hard to keep our opinions and viewpoints OFF the pages, but like it or not, who and what we are, the lives we’ve lived, our attitude toward triumph and tragedy…ends up in our stories, at least to some degree.
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?
First…read, read, read the types of stories you think you’d like to write. Then, find every how-to book you can get your hands on, and make notes of the things that “speak” to you. Sign up for writing classes at your community college. Register for writers’ conferences so you can learn still more from people who lead workshops and seminars. And all the while, write, write, write. One page a day = 250 words = 365 pages at the end of a year. That’s a novel, my dears! If you feel it merits a look-see by a legitimate editor or agent, submit it! (Because all the other things you’ve learned will have taught you how to put together a professional proposal package.) If you aren’t quite sure of yourself yet, join a critique group, and take to heart the advice of your peers. Incorporate their tips into your masterpiece, and THEN submit! One thing to remember, always: If you quit, you won’t sell. It’s just that simple.
Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?
That’s a touchy subject for me. I know LOTS of people who profess to be “professional editors” who are anything BUT. They have no credentials, no experience, no knowledge of what it takes to write, submit and sell a book. I also know a handful of editors who really ARE what they claim to be, and their input has made the difference between hearing editors/agents say, “Thanks, but no thanks” and “We’d like to offer a contract!” So this is what I tell my students: Treat BOOK doctors the way you’d treat a medical doctor. Check them out. Ask to see proof they can fulfill their promises. Make them show you a list of things THEY have published. (One published book–whether published by a respected company or a vanity press–does not qualify a person to advise you.) So talk with writer friends who have hired editors/book doctors. Find out if they got what they paid for. This is of critical importance, because I’ve heard from hundreds of heartbroken writers who paid editors/book doctors, only to end up with a huge unreadable mess. Which is why I’ve never hired an editor/book doctor, and never will!
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?
Finding time to write is always tough. I love to read. And watch TV. And spend time with friends and family. So rule #1 is…always remember that this is not a hobby. Like any other job, work comes first, and I fit all the fun stuff around it.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?
I love writing. Love everything about it, from the research, to interviews with people who can help me better understand what my characters do for a living, the illness a secondary character is coping with, setting and/or time period. I love meting out information about the people I create, bit by bit. I love throwing huge obstacles in their path, then giving them the courage and intelligence to overcome those obstacles. I love seeing them change and grow as they work toward better, more fulfilling lives. Would I write if I didn’t get paid to do it? Yep. Sure would. <shrug> I’d just do a little less writing, that’s all!
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?
I often compare writing to golf. Now, before I continue, I must confess: My golf score would be fantastic…if I was bowling! Despite my obvious lack of talent on the green, the analogy makes sense. At least to me. Everything about golf, from choosing the right club to how you grip it, your stance and approach…it all requires complete concentration. Focus. Determination. During those moments leading up to impact, if you allow yourself to think about where your new puppy is leaving little surprises or your Visa statement, the ball isn’t going to land where you want it to. Writing is like that. To do it well, to do it “write,” you have to concentrate and focus on the story, on the characters. So, while you’re at work, you don’t have to worry about the puppy mess or where you’ll find the money to pay Visa. And here’s the kicker: While they’re reading your story, neither do your readers!
Has writing made you a better person?
I don’t know if it has made me a better person, but it certainly has improved my work ethic by turning me into a person dedicated to do my very best work, with every keystroke!
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?
I read a wide variety of books, by all kinds of authors: Koontz and Patterson, Sparks and Shakespeare.
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?
I’m blessed that I’ve received only a handful of not-so-hot reviews. In every case, I have learned a LOT from the reviewers and the reviews: Maybe I paid too much attention to a secondary character. Or spent too much time with narrative backstory. Perhaps I left out a detail the reviewer wanted addressed. And, in every case, I do my best to address those things in every book that follows. So it can be said that a well-written, thoughtful not-so-hot review is GOOD for the author AND good for the publishing industry at large.
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?
ALL authors can tell the difference between a not-so-hot review and those written to hurt or humiliate the author. Snarky, hyper-critical reviews aren’t reviews at all. “It took three weeks to get my book, so it gets one star!” and “I hate books set in Greenland during the Vikings era! One star for you!” A little reporter-like investigation usually uncovers one of two truths: 1.) the “reviewer” gives every product (blenders, shoes, skin lotion, linens) a one-star rating. (The law of averages dictates that sooner or later, these hard-line “reviewers” would stumbled onto ONE product they liked, right?) or 2.) the one-star-I-hated-this-book reviewer is a wanna-be writer whose book has been rejected. Instead of spending energy and time trying to figure out how the work might be improved, the “reviewer” lashes out at authors whose work WASN’T rejected. In both cases, authors would be wise to ignore anything written by “reviewers” like these.
Bestselling author Loree Lough once sang for her supper, performing all across the U.S. and Canada. Now and then, she blows the dust from her six-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly, she just writes (100 novels [and counting!] that earned hundreds of industry and “Readers’ Choice” awards, four- and five-star reviews, and five 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 lecturer for 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. (Click the “Giving Back” tab on Loree’s website to see the list.)
Loree and her real-life hero split their time between a home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves showing off her “identify the critter tracks” skills.