Loree Lough

At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had 74 books, 63 short stories, and over 2,500 articles in print. Dubbed “the writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives”, she has earned dozens of “Readers’ Choice” and industry awards. Her most recent release, Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry! will soon be joined by Prevailing Love, Tales of the Heart, and Beautiful Bandit (#1 in her “Lone Star Legends” series from Whitaker), and One Forsaken Man (#1 in her “First Responders” series from Abingdon). Loree and her husband split their time between a little house in the Baltimore suburbs and a really little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where they cater to a formerly-abused Pointer whose numerous vet visits inspired the nickname ‘Cash’. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to write her at loree [at] loreelough [dot]com. Visit her blog (www.theloughdown.blogspot.com) and web site (http://www.loreelough.com).

When NO Rhymes with HAS-BEEN

If you’re like me, you hate sitting idly while editors and/or agents consider the merits of your latest work. And if you’re like me, you troll the Internet in search of freelance-type writing jobs that’ll net enough in spendable cash to keep the wolf from the door.

So you write a snazzy cover letter to send out with your resume. You include your bio, clips of published articles, or a list of your books’ ISBNs. Not just a handful, mind you, but a big fat stack of stuff that nearly gets stuck in the mouth of the mailbox.

And while you’re waiting for those guys and gals to call and say, “Holy moley; the writing gods are smiling on me, ’cuz you’re exactly what we’ve been looking for!” you pace, stare out the window, and wonder where in heaven’s name that confounded mailman is. You count the wood slats in the kitchen blinds. Maybe even try your hand at math: If there are 127 dots on every ceiling tile in your office, and there are 253 tiles, how many spots really are before your eyes?

Then, finally, it happens. The phone rings, and while you’re scribbling fast and furious to keep up with the assignment Editor A is doling out, the mail truck rolls up. Lo and behold, an acceptance in the mailbox, too. Elated, you call Editor B to thank him for the assignment, and promise to get the story in-house well before the deadline.

You get busy, instantly, setting up interviews and researching the topics you’ll turn into full-blown articles. And when you lay your weary head down that night, the last thing on your mind is the manuscript that’s been idling on Editor C’s desk.

Next day, you get two more calls. And another “Hey, give us a jingle, we’d love to work with you” letter arrives. By the time every i is dotted and every t is crossed, there are five assignments on your desk. You do some more math: If each article takes between eight and ten hours, you’ve easily racked up fifty hours of work ahead of you. Which wouldn’t be a problem . . . if the articles weren’t all due in the same week. And wouldn’t ya know, that’s the same week your college pal is coming to town, and your spouse scheduled dinner with coworkers, and you promised to bake cupcakes for the White Elephant sale at the volunteer fire company.

So why did you accept five articles, anyway? Why not say yes to one or two, and beg off on the other three?

I’ll tell you why. You took ’em all because freelancing makes Tom Cruise’s risky business seem like a walk in the park; if you’d said, “No can do,” the big fear is those editors may move on to the next freelancer on their “whom to call” list and cross you off, literally and figuratively. Maybe even permanently.

Would that really happen? Probably not. Editors aren’t stupid. They know a hard-working schmo when they see one. And being among the non-stupid, they also know that if you’re too busy to say yes this time, there can be only one reason: Some other smart editor has snapped you up. But it’s the “probably” that hangs us up, that hangs us, if we’re not careful.

Having juggled a couple dozen personal and professional balls in a week is something I’ve done far more often than I care to admit. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve established myself as a pro in

this wacky industry, that fiction and nonfiction editors alike made it possible for me to make that claim. My schizophrenic brain is convinced that saying no is . . . well, if not career suicide, then certainly a pellet to the toe.

All-nighters? Survived hundreds of ’em! (Flavored coffee beans really do the trick, and they contain zero calories!) Is it worth it the dark circles even Maybelline can’t hide as I drag myself to the store to grab the latest issue of Whatever Magazine, so I can snip out my article and add it to my clip book? Is it too high a price to pay to sorta, kinda nod off during the drive to the bank to deposit my paycheck?

Yep. Uh-huh. You bet. Absolutely.

Do I say, “Never again!” each time I file a story, then slam onto the mattress like a recently felled tree? Yeah. I sure as shootin’ do. Do I promise to quit beating myself up this way, to practice saying a firm but courteous no when editors pile assignment atop assignment? Mmm-hmm, I most certainly do.

Do I turn right around and say yes to the very next editor who calls on the heels of some other editor? A-yup. Indeedie. I do.

Am I that insecure? Well, yeah . . . and so is anybody who believes they’re only as good as their last success. Actors, singers, comedians, artists . . . we all stared into the beady eyes of the hideous “But what have you done lately” monster. Doesn’t matter if others believe you’re sittin’ pretty, got it made, reached the top. In your own head, the word NO rhymes with HAS-BEEN.

They don’t call me a crazy writer for nuttin’!

Be Still And Let Your Nail Polish DryLove Finds You In North Pole, Alaska