Howdy y’all. Thanks for stopping by the 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. I hope you’ll drop by every day until Dec. 23 for a chance to win a book a day and to enjoy interviews with best-selling authors.
Today we welcome best-selling author Loree Lough.She’s dropped by to tell us a little about her books, give some writing tips and share some of her family’s Christmas traditions. Oh and she’s giving away a free book to one lucky winner!
Loree is the author of 84 books. With an amazing 3 million books in circulation, Loree is one of Inspirational Fiction’s most well-know (and spunky) authors. Her titles have earned numerous 4- and 5-star reviews and dozens of industry awards. She splits her time between a humble home in Baltimore and a teeny cabin in the Alleghenies (where she loves to show off her “Identify the Critter Tracks” skills).
Before becoming a best-selling author, Loree “literally sang for her supper” (click this link for a flashback of Loree. I think she looks like Lynn Anderson) and worked as a reporter for major newspapers and magazines.
Loree doesn’t just write about faith, she lives it. Following the words of”Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” she donates a large portion of her annual income to charities including the Wounded Warriors Project, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, the Autism Society of America, and the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania.
Loree loves to hear from readers and answers every letter, personally. (It’s true, she’s a fun friend to follow on Facebook! You’ll get lots of laughs and inspiration from her page! And maybe a growling belly after you read all the yummy recipes she posts.) To connect with Loree , visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Shoutlife, and http://www.loreelough.com!
Her newest releases, Love Finds You in Folly Beach, South Carolina and From Ashes to Honor are in bookstores now (AND she’s giving one winner the choice of either of these books.)
Before I tell you how you can win one of these titles, let’s have a chat with Loree.
Interview with Loree Lough
The premise of Loree’s First Responders series is heartwrenchingly familiar. In “From Ashes to Honor” (book 1) NYC Cop Austin Finley must live with the unthinkable-he ignored a final phone call from his brother who was inside the World Trade Center on 9/11. “Honor Redeemed” (book 2) follows two Search and Rescue workers as they sort through the mangled wreckage of an jumbo passenger jet.
OA: Loree, your upcoming release Honor Redeemed (book 2 in the First Responders series which releases February 2012) follows the lives of characters who were personally and deeply affected by 9/11. It’s been 10 years since the 9/11 attacks. What inspired you to write the First Responders series now?
LL: Like most Americans, I used to accept as fact that first responders would be there when I needed them. Just dial 9-1-1 and help arrives, right? While driving, I did my civic duty and pulled over when I saw flashing lights and heard sirens. I said a little prayer for whomever they were about to help, but once the emergency vehicles had passed, I pretty much forgot about them.
And then 9/11 happened. I saw cops, firefighters, EMTs, Port Authority Police walking into the mayhem with only one thought: Save lives. Many of them gave their own lives that day…and in the days, months, and years to come, and I felt overwhelming guilt, caused by my “took them for granted” mindset. Notice…that’s past tense….
The First Responders series will, I hope, make everyone who reads the novels more aware of the brave men and women who put our safety ahead of their own. I also hope that, as readers go about their normal routines, they’ll stop and say thank you when they see a policeman, firefighter, or soldier.
OA: I recently watched the video book trailer for Honor Redeemed on Youtube. It’s so fun to watch books come to life visually, if only for a couple of minutes. What do you think videos being used to promote books?
LL: The number of industry pros who claim video book trailers increase sales are probably equal to the number who insist trailers are a waste of ,money. But in an industry where an author’s opportunities (to sell) are decreasing as the number of competitors increases, I say name recognition is critical. If a reader views–and likes–a trailer, they’re more likely to remember my name while browsing the bookstore shelves. That’s why I’ve put my hard-earned marketing dollars toward book trailers…and why I’ll keep right on doing it!
OA: You’re donating a portion of the proceeds from “Honor Redeemed” to three charities that serve our military men and women. Tell us what prompted you to do this.
LL: It’s really no sacrifice, giving up a few Hershey’s Bars, Maybelline products, and Dominos Pizzas to thank them for all they do to improve the lives of others. Besides, ‘giving back’ feels so doggoned good!
Soldiers’ Angels exists to add comfort to the lives of deployed soldiers and their families. Care packages, filled and mailed solely by volunteers, arrive daily at military bases around the world. And the resilient family members who make it possible for these valiant men and women in uniform are given small but meaningful gifts, too.
Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides funds that allow the children of our fallen soldiers to go to college…something that, for many of them, would be impossible, otherwise.
The Wounded Warrior Foundation partners with many organizations and charities to give soldiers whose deployments have ended whatever assistance they need. From jobs to training for new careers, help in getting prostheses (and other medical/psychological aid), housing…you name it.
The main reason I choose to donate a large portion of my annual income to these organizations is because I see it as my duty…my way of “giving back.”
OA: Why do you choose to write inspirational romance versus secular books?
LL: When I was a reporter, writing for just about every major magazine and newspaper out there, I saw a disturbing,repeated trend: Editors, altering facts to appease advertisers. I figured if I was gonna write fiction, I might as well pen a novel. And if I was blessed enough to see it published, I wanted it to reach hard-working Christians who were looking for wholesome entertainment. As anyone in this business can tell you, there isn’t nearly as much money in writing faith-based fiction as there is writing secular stories. But they’ll also tell you it really isn’t about the money as much as it’s about using our talents to help spread God’s word.
OA: Which comes first when you write a book, the plot or the spiritual journey.
LL: It varies. Sometimes, a title comes to me first. Other times, an event wakes an idea that starts a series of “What if…?” and “And then what…?” questions that serve as the basic storyline. But without exception, answering the “What if?” and “And then what?” questions always goes hand in hand with a faith-based them, such as forgiveness, acceptance, trust and faith.
OA: How do you choose which Bible verses to include in a book?
LL: For me, the storyline dictates which passages make the most sense. As I present characters with issues, I introduce Biblical principles that will aid them in coping with conflicts, and brings them to a spiritual place that helps them resolve those difficulties.
OA: How do you balance showing a character’s spiritual journey without “preaching” to the reader?
LL: The only way to accomplish that, I believe, is to create characters my readers can easily identify with. The people I write about have flaws—sometimes, big ones—that make whatever goals they’re trying to reach impossible (or at the very least, a whole lot harder). As the characters turn to God for the strength to overcome their problems, readers see faith slowly unfolding. If the changes and growth required of my characters happened “overnight,” readers would never believe it. And why should they, when in real life, change and growth is a process that takes time, thought…and prayer.
OA: This may be like asking you to choose a favorite child but do you have a favorite character or book that you’ve written?
LL: I think of all the characters I’ve developed, I like Dusty Parker best. (He’s the hero in A Man of Honor, book #3 in the First Responders series.) Not only is he the character who was most willing to sacrifice for those he loves, Dusty is also a man with a lot of baggage. He overcame some huge obstacles from his past, and after finding Christ, approaches his life and those he shares it with grace and dignity…and he accomplishes this with a steadfast (other characters might say stubborn!) trust in the Lord.
OA: What is your favorite and least favorite part of writing a novel?
LL: My favorite part of writing a novel is dumping a boatload of troubles into characters’ laps…and having the power to help them solve every problem. To answer the second part of that question, I have to admit that I’ve never been one to blow my own horn. These days, with so many cut-backs in the publishing industry, authors are required to market their own books. It’s a strange, unnatural thing…this “shameless self-promotion. I compare it to preparing a mouth-watering 7-course gourmet dinner…and then facing the ugly task of cleaning up the pots and pans!
OA: Do you have advice for writers aspiring to be published?
LL: First, follow the usual advice: Read the genre you hope to publish; read how-to books (written by authors who’ve earned the right to tell you “how it’s done”); attend writing classes (seminars and workshops); sign up for conferences where you can meet and mingle with people who “get” the whole crazy mixed-up publishing industry.
Equally important is not to write “what you know,” because that limits your audience, a lot! And please, please, please don’t write “the book of your heart” unless you’ve done some thorough research and you know, without a doubt, that it contains the necessary elements to help you sell it.
OA: You have a quirky sense of humor that is reflected in your characters. Where do you get you inspiration?
LL: I’d have to give some of the credit to my quirky family. Every one of us—Mom (who passed away Aug. 9, 2011), Dad, and all 4 of my siblings are cut-ups. Then, I have to give some of the credit to Life. If not for my sense of humor, I doubt I could have survived a lot of what it threw at me!
OA: What do you have in the works for 2012?
LL: #2 in the First Responders series, “Honor Redeemed”, will release in February. In June of 2012, #3 in that series, “A Man of Honor,” will join it, and it’ll be followed soon after by “For Love of Eli”, one of the launch books in Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series. (Please pray for me: There are a few proposals under consideration that I’d love to see turned into books!)
OA: Loree, thanks for being a part of our 12 Days of Christmas and gifting us with this fun interview and a free book for one lucky reader! We’ll let you get back to preparing for Christmas. But before you go, what traditions are you looking forward to celebrating with your family?
LL: We always, always have a birthday cake that says “Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus.” After our big dinner, the family gathers round for dessert, but we aren’t allowed to eat a bite until we’ve sung the birthday song to our Savior. This helps even the littlest kids gathered focus on “the reason for the season,” and reminds grownups that Christmas isn’t about food, or decorations, or presents under the tree.
I’d like to thank Heather for her generosity in sharing her blog—and her regular followers—with me! And I’d also like to wish all of you a happy, healthy Christmas that’s filled with love, peace, and joy.
Now for the contest. But First the Rules. Please read over them, they’ll likely answer any questions you have about the giveaway-if not, ask away.
This giveaway is open to US Residents, with the book mailed to the winner by the author.
(Canada friends, you can enter but only if you’re willing to send the author a SASE to mail your book. Sorry, postage is expensive!)
Here’s how you can enter to win a free copy of your choice of either “From Ashes to Honor” or “Love Finds You In Folly Beach, South Carolina.”
Simply leave a comment under this post, with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win! Email addresses are used for this contest only. I don’t collect or sale email addresses.)
BONUS ENTRIES (Leave a Separate Comment for each action you complete stating what you did along with your name and email.)
Follow Loree on Twitter
Visit any (or all) of the charities that Loree supports. (See the interview for links.)
Visit the sites of Loree’s publishers.
Subscribe to my blog.
The giveaway closes on Friday, Dec. 23 at 11:59pm. Winners will be announced on Saturday, Dec. 24 at 2p.m. Please check back every day through Dec. 23 for a different giveaway and interviews with authors.
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