Loree Lough

At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had 75 books, 63 short stories, and over 2,500 articles in print. Dubbed by reviewers “the writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives”, she has earned dozens of “Readers’ Choice” and industry awards. This summer, Beautiful Bandit (#1 in “Lone Star Legends” series from Whitaker) joins Loree’s 2009-10 releases, Love Finds You in Paradise, PA and Love Finds You in North Pole (Summerside), Tales of the Heart and Prevailing Love (Whitaker), and Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry (Summerside). Maverick Heart (Lone Star Legends #2) comes out in January, 2011, while the release of From Ashes to Honor, #1 in her “First Responders” series (Abingdon), will coordinate with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Accidental Family, #3 in the “Accidental Blessings” series (Love Inspired) and Love Finds You in Folly Beach, SC are slated to hit bookstore shelves May and June, 2011, respectively. Visit Loree at http://wwwloreelough.com.

Good Old Abnormal Me

Normal people do their spring cleaning in the springtime. But I’m hard-pressed to name anyone who’d call me “normal!”

I woke up the other night (2:47 a.m., to be precise), and despite the usual “go back to sleep” tricks (reciting Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer, picturing a clean blackboard, counting imaginary “floaters” stuck to my inner eyelids), I just couldn’t find my way back to Slumberland.

Usually, this happens on nights when I’ve turned off the computer too soon, and the story element I’d been weaving into my WIP has decided it is more important than sleep.

But this wasn’t the case on that night.

So I got up. Made myself a snack. Sipped some lemonade. Turned on the Home Improvement channel and shook my head as some poor, clumsy woman made a mess of her kitchen counter. But not even watching her dent a $300 faucet and drop a whole box of pricey handmade tiles inspired drowsiness. And it didn’t give me the “Get to the keyboard and add this to your story or your head will explode!” feeling, either.

Wasting time has always been a pet peeve. So, yawning, I went into my office . . .

. . . and started going through files.

Not the drawer where I keep business stuff, or the one where I store “this guy might make a good hero” photos, but the crammed-so-tight-I-can’t-fit-my-fingers-between-the-folders manuscript files. Two drawers filled with (literally) hundreds of story ideas at various stages of development.

First, I emptied both drawers, leaving only a few paperclips and some spent staples in the bottom. Then, one by one, I looked at every folder, separating stories I could pitch from those that had no hope of selling. Ever. The Never-evers ended up in the trash can, and the rest lay all around me on the floor.

So there I sat, cross-legged on my alphabet rug, sorting through every file. After looking through all of those, a whole lot more ended up in the garbage.

Now I was left with twenty-one stories, which, after careful perusal, were put into three stacks: “Probably,” “Could Be,” and “Not Sure.” After giving the Not Sures one last chance to pique my interest, they joined their brothers in the Hefty bag.

Those in the “Probably” and “Could Be” stacks got a final read, leaving me with just eight folders, which I alphabetized and returned to the cabinet. And for the first time in well over a decade, I had to use those weird little “sliding things” that keep folders upright in nearly-empty file drawers.

Imagine that. Eight story possibilities culled from the hundreds. Talk about a cleansing!

I’ve heard my writer friends say they can’t get rid of anything. They gripe about stacks of Writer’s Digest that date back to the ’70s, and how-to-write books purchased while Reagan was still president. Photos taken in places where they’d like to “set” a book teeter in piles beside more piles of magazine tear-outs depicting potential character types.

I’m not normal enough to make those piles, let alone live with them! For an abnormal writer like me, things hafta be organized. Because if they aren't, I’ll fritter away hours’ worth of precious minutes trying to fix this and do that. Chaos of the physical

surroundings kind—even a small amount of it—puts me into a never-ending tailspin. To concentrate on a plotline or a character’s motive, I’ve gotta see and feel (and believe) that all my ducks are in a row, all my Ts are crossed, all my Is dotted.

Still . . . each manuscript I’d pitched into oblivion, disproved the “out of sight, out of mind” adage. I think of them often: Could a few have been rewritten? (If so, which?) Could I weave elements of one novel into the plotline of another? Might “this” character perform better in “that” story?

Good thing I dumped real trash into the gigantic black bag before dragging it to the curb, huh! Knowing they’re as gone as last year’s Christmas fruitcake opened my mind in a brand-new way.

As an avid gardener, I know that when a plant malingers, harsh pruning is in order. Lopping off the dead stuff is the only way to get back to healthy green chutes and big fragrant blooms I once enjoyed.

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Cutting those dead, never-could-sell stories from my files made room for stronger ideas that will bear publishable fruit.

My little exercise cost me nearly five hours, three broken fingernails (four, if you count my thumb), a scraped toe, and way too many paper cuts to count.

The minute those little sliding things start moving closer to the back of that drawer, I’ll do it again.

The other drawer? I rather like the metallic thunk it makes when I open and close it, so it’s gonna stay empty.


Because I’m, y’know, good old abnormal me.


Beautiful Bandit