What started you on your writing journey?
My hubby's job put us in Richmond, leaving me without a job. Saw an ad in the local paper for a "neighborhood correspondent" and thought it would be a great way to get to know the area and meet new people. After just a few interviews, my editor said she liked my "style," and gave me several feature assignments. Soon, editors at other publications were calling with assignments.
When hubby's job took us back to Baltimore, I showed my "clip book" to editors here, and, you guessed it, assignments! At about the "2,500 articles in print" point in my career, I got fed up with a disturbing trend: Editors, forced by publishers to change critical facts to appease advertisers. I figured if I was gonna write fiction, it might as well be in the form of a novel, and, you guessed it, assignments!
What distracts you from writing the easiest?
My grandkids! I can write with the TV blaring in the other room, the washer and dryer droning in the adjacent laundry room, lawn mowers and chain saws roaring outside. But put a grandkid within 50 feet of my computer and I'm putty. SILLY putty!
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Right now, I'm reading a military thriller called Black Eagle Force: Eye of the Storm by writer pals Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke (who, in addition to having starred in a bunch of movies, produce and direct screenplays they've co-authored).
Recently, I enjoyed James Rollins' The Doomsday Key. If you liked The DaVinci Code, you'll love this one. On the non-fiction side, I loved Touching History by Lynn Spencer, a pilot who relived the true-to-life minutes preceding and following the heartless attack on our country on 9/11. Very "Tom Clancy-ish" in style and description. And Scent of the Missing was supposed to be research for the novel I'm writing now, about search and rescue personnel and their amazing dogs. But author Susannah Charleson did such a bang-up job of writing it that I totally forget that I'm supposed to be working, not reading for pleasure!
I love cowboys. Have since I was a little girl, watching Westerns on Saturday mornings…will until my old peepers make it impossible to see Stetsons and boots and snug blue jeans. Lamont London, widowed years ago, raised four rowdy daughters, single-handedly while running a successful ranch near Amarillo. Like those heroes-in-the-saddle I fell in love with as a kid, he's everything a man should be: Brave, strong—physically and emotionally—honest, and of course, gorgeous.
If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Country, without a doubt, because it's "real" and earthy and honest to its core. People tell me I'm uncomplicated and trustworthy (oh, if you knew the secrets in this head of mine!), so I guess that's another similarity, because you can understand the words in a country-western song!
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Holy mackerel, is that a loaded question! I've done some pretty wacky things in my day—for a paycheck, and "just cuz," but I guess the craziest was taking a giant leap of faith when I was young (and some might say stupid): I auditioned with Artists Corporation of America and, signed with an agent there, then packed a steamer trunk and my guitar and went on the road, singing—all by myself—in hotel lounges all over the country. I got a chance to "open" for quite a few big stars of the day, but that isn't my favorite memory. It's thinking of all those brave, wounded young soldiers who asked me to sit down beside their V.A. hospital beds and sing their favorite songs.
What is your strangest habit?
Shhh…don't tell anybody (PLEASE!), but I'm addicted to goofy TV shows like "The Amazing Race" and "American Idol." (And if my husband wouldn't blow a gasket, I'd watch "The Bachelor," too!)
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
If you open my dishwasher right now, you'll find it's filled with clean dishes. And if you come back next week, you'll see a few of those same plates and mugs, right where they are today. And if I had a dollar for every time I've gotten dressed, picking stuff out of a laundry basket? I could probably go back to Ireland. Twice!
What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
My all-time favorite family meal is a big wear-your-jeans-and-sneakers cookout: Hot dogs (extra onions on mine, please), baked beans, potato salad, and gallons of sweet iced tea.
Loree's Easy-as-Pie (but not as fruity) Baked Beans
1 large can Bush's baked beans
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon dry minced onion
½ cup catsup
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
½ cup dark brown sugar
Dump everything in your favorite Dutch oven, stir well, and simmer for an hour.
Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I seem drawn to the stuff that makes people question God…and His desire to be involved in every tiny detail of our lives. That lends itself well to forgiveness and acceptance—of self and others, past mistakes and present offenses—and breaking that oh-so-human belief that the old "God helps those who help themselves" rule was mysteriously etched onto those stone tablets, delivered by Moses.
Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Life is, well, life. That's why my go-to verse has long been 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says: "No temptation has seized you that isn't common for people. God is faithful. He won't allow you to be tested beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, god will also supply a way out, so that you will be able to endure it." Common English Bible
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
An Accidental Family (the 3rd and final novel in my "Accidental Blessings" series for Love Inspires, releases this June. In the first two books (An Accidental Hero and An Accidental Mom), I featured two of the four daughters, raised single-handedly by widowed Texas rancher, Lamont London. In this book, Dad gets a second chance at love in a suspenseful, heart-tugging story that puts trust, faith, and unresolved issues to the ultimate test.
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Loree is giving away a copy of An Accidental Family. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.