Author’s Bio: Bestselling author Loree Lough 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 novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, 4- and 5-star reviews, and 7 book-to-movie options. Her 110th book, The Man She Knew, #1 in Harlequin Heartwarming’s “By Way of the Lighthouse” series, releases this June. By year-end 2017, Loree will have a total of 115 books on the shelves…and nearly 7,000,000 copies in print. She loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter personally!
What inspired you to write your book?
LL: Before I respond to your questions, I’d like to take a moment to thank you, Dee, for sharing your blog with me! The invitation is quite an honor!
The inspiration for this book… Hmm… Well, these days, it seems everyone feels obliged to share their opinions on everything from politics to pelicans. Sadly, those opinions often border on hurtful and harmful judgmentalism…and it ticks me off! One often maligned group: Ex-cons. Are some of them deserving of doubt and suspicion? Well, of course. But many return to society 100% changed for the better. Those are the individuals that inspired this novel. Like Ian, the main character, they have spent countless hours improving themselves and, upon their release, hope only to become contributing members of the community. And they deserve a chance to prove themselves!
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
LL: I fell in love with the stories of Jack London, and the music of his words developed in me an appreciation for craft and story. (It didn’t hurt that he was kinda cute, either.
Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
LL: The Man She Knew is my 110th published book. It took me a little longer than usual to complete it thanks to a bout with Multiple Myeloma (incurable bone/marrow cancer) that required a year’s worth of chemo and a stem cell transplant. Understanding and patient editors at Harlequin erased all stress and guilt from the process!
Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
LL: From my very first book to the last, I’ve used what I call a “timeline.” It’s more a guide than a ‘carved in stone’ outline, and without it, I could never have written 5 or 6 books a year during my 20+ year career.
Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
LL: Nope, no music as I write. But if there was a theme song for the book, I’d choose Tennessee Waltz, because as Ian and Maleah danced to this old classic, both are reminded of the love they’d shared before his incarceration put ten years between them.
What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
LL: I rely heavily on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc. Daily interaction with readers—many of whom have become personal friends—is not only enjoyable, but guarantees they will help promote the books. (Because they like me…they really like me!
) I believe in book tours, video book trailers, and giveaways allow me to share tidbits about the stories that, hopefully, generate interest in the books.
What advice would you give to new authors?
LL: Sign up for how-to classes. Read how-to books. Join a critique group. Attend local writers organizations’ workshops, seminars, and conferences. Write every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or two. Read, read, read. And above all, never, ever quit: It’s the only way to guarantee your work won’t see print!
How about sharing an excerpt from The Man She Knew?
It had been a mistake, asking Andy to drop him this far from her grandparents’ drive. Walking on flat ground had been a challenge with crutches, and the cane was hardly an improvement. He took his time, but tromping through the deep snow made him wince with every step. If you put yourself back in the hospital, you’ll only have yourself to—
“Ian? Ian Sylvestry?”
He’d hoped for a few minutes to catch his breath, to pull his thoughts together, and find a way to mask his pain. It lessened some when he took stock of the woman who stood before him, snow-dampened blonde curls clinging to her cheeks and forehead, cheeks as rosy as those on the painted cherubic faces of his aunt’s Hummel figurines. If she’d ever looked more beautiful, he couldn’t remember when.
“What’re you doing out in this mess?” he asked.
“Trying to stay half a step ahead of this beastly storm.” She followed the narrow path she’d shoveled and met him at the mailbox. “The better question is, what are you doing here? No…” She held up an ice-encrusted mitten. “The better question is, how did you get here?”
Ian pointed to the plow just up the street, lifting buckets of snow from the road and emptying them onto neighbors’ lawns.
“Hitched a ride with a friend.”
“From Fells Point to Ellicott City. In a snowplow.”
He shrugged. “Uh, yeah.”
“So I could see for myself that you’re all right.”
“And put your own life on the line in the process?”
Ian hadn’t realized until that moment that he’d been massaging his aching thigh. He grinned, trying to make light of it. “I’d hardly call the ride over here life threatening…”
She snorted. “I wonder if your surgeon would agree.”
“Good question.” He snickered. “I have a feeling if I show up at next week’s checkup without a reasonable explanation for this insanity, he might just send me straight to Shephard Pratt…with a prescription for a padded cell and a hug-myself jacket.”
“You look awful,” she said. “Pale, and dark circles under your eyes… You arranged for that plow, didn’t you.”
He shrugged one shoulder. “I, ah, I might’ve influenced the driver. A little.”
“You’re shivering.” She jammed the shovel into the slip-sliding mound of crumpled snow she’d piled beside the driveway. “You’re coming inside.”
She punctuated the order with a smile, and linked her arm through his. His heart beat hard. That oughta warm you up, he thought. “But…your grandparents…”
“They’re fast asleep. Have been for hours.”
“So,” he said as she led him to the back steps, “they have no idea you’re out here, alone in the dark, in the middle of a major blizzard.”
“And if you slipped, clunked your head on something—”
“It’s snow, Ian. Snow.”
“With a half inch of frozen stuff on top of it.”
She paused at the bottom of the back steps. “Says the man who traveled miles, on a snowplow, to earn a few brownie points by having my grandparents’ driveway cleared.”
Ian groaned quietly. “I’m that obvious?”
She blinked up at him through snowflake-dusted lashes, blue eyes glittering in the golden glow of the porch light. Once upon a time, a look like that might precede a passionate kiss. At the very least, a loving hug. Maleah took a step closer. Licked her lips. Exhaled a sweet sigh. Those minutes on the dance floor, holding her close enough to feel her heart thrumming against his chest, had been wondrous and memorable…and woke a yearning in him as nothing before it had. Would she actually take another step forward, and bridge the gap that had separated them for so long?
Rattled, hopeful, and more than a little scared, Ian decided to take that step, instead…
…and lost his balance.
He landed on his back in a deep drift, taking her with him, a warm and petite, parka’d blanket that covered him from chin to shins. Instinct made him wrap his arms around her. Instinct…and an aching desire to hold onto the moment for as long as he could.
He’d heard people say “Time froze,” but until now, hadn’t experienced it. What seemed a full minute passed as those incredible eyes bored into his, searched his face, then squeezed shut. When she opened them again, Maleah whispered, “Are you all right?”
“No. I’m not.”
Both eyebrows disappeared under wet bangs. “I’ll get your snowplow friend to help get you up.”
She started to get up, but Ian tightened his arms around her. “The only thing wrong with me,” he grated, “is…is…”
Where to start? By telling her about the self-loathing he’d experienced every hour since that night at the convenience store? With regrets he’d recited like a litany when sleep eluded him? Or the list of “if onlys” he’d tried so hard to bury in his mind?
Maleah lay her head on his chest and patted his shoulder.
“Maybe Shephard Pratt isn’t such a bad idea.”
“Because you are a little crazy.”
Her lyrical voice, soft as the falling snow, touched a long-forgotten place in his heart. Ian didn’t trust himself to speak. Last time she’d brought tears to his eyes had been the day her letter arrived, unopened like the others, demanding that he leave her alone, forever. Eyes burning, he struggled for self-control, and the courage to tell her what he’d come here to say.
“Guess I am a little crazy. Crazy about you,” he ground out. “Still. Always.”
Hands pressed into the snow on either side of his head, she raised up, repeated the mind-numbing, mesmerizing study of his face. The pale yellow glow of the porch light haloed her head, making it impossible to tell if her lashes were still damp from the snow…or if the dream-like mood had moved her to tears, too.
She knew? He held his breath, waiting for her to follow up with “Me, too.” Or “That’s how I feel.” When she didn’t, another old saying came to mind: No one ever died of a broken heart…
Right here, in this moment, he wasn’t so sure about that. Eyes closed, overwhelming sadness washed over him. He was entitled to that, wasn’t he, now that he’d finally accepted the futility of believing they could ever be us, or we again?
Her lips touched his, softly, gently, slowly at first.
But only at first. Where he ended and she began, Ian couldn’t say. Did she realize that as her kisses slid from his mouth to his cheeks, from his forehead to his chin, she’d awakened every hope and dream he’d secreted away, that she’d roused every manly urge he thought had died long ago? It seemed she was reaching into his soul. How would she respond after reading years of unanswered love he’d written there?
Had he thumped his head hard when he flopped onto his back? Open your eyes; it’s the only way to know for sure. He hesitated, because if this was some sort of weird dream, Ian didn’t want to wake up. Ever.
What’s next for you?
LL: Next up, a novel titled 50 Hours, based on a screenplay by my talented pal Kevin O’Neill. It’s shorter than most of my stories, and it isn’t a romance. It’s a poignant tale that I believe will touch many hearts: A dying woman. A broken man. A friendship that changes them both.
After that, book #2 in Harlequin Heartwarming’s “By Way of the Lighthouse” series, REMEMBERING ROSIE (the story of a married couple that, unable to cope with the kidnapping of their 3-year old daughter, separates. When she’s found, they’re forced together again in the hope of providing her a stable home life…).
And after that, book #3 in the series, THE REFORMATION OF LILLIE ROURKE, doing her best to prove her trustworthiness to family and friends—and the love of her life—that the year she’d been away (including a stint in rehab) had changed her.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
· Website: http://www.loreelough.com
· Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Loree-Lough/e/B000APRS7S
· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoreeLough
· Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoreeLoughAutho
· Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/loreelough/
· Book buy Links:
It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.