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.

Happy 2011 (Maybe)

If you’ve been as busy as I have, you probably asked Santa to tuck some extra hours-per-day into your stocking. But just in case he didn’t come through, I have a plan. It was born in the wee hours of the morning, when my too-long To Do list haunted my dreams. Those of you who know me personally won’t be surprised to hear that while awaiting the calm that might lull me back to sleep, I decided to put this time to good use. And so into my office I went, where, after my eyes grew accustomed to the glare of florescent lights, I dug through my files.

Yes, all of my files. Almost a hundred story ideas, each at various stages of development, crammed into cuticle-shredding folders in my filing cabinets. If a manuscript had no hope of selling, I decided that into the trashcan it would go, even if it hadn’t yet been submitted and rejected.

An hour later, I was left with about two dozen stories, some fully fleshed out, others just topics I felt might one day be written into salable novel plots. I gave each a thorough read to determine which might sell in today’s market (and which cannot), and a few more files sailed into the already overflowing wastebasket.

Next I sorted through the remaining six story outlines and put them in “easiest to complete and submit” order, so that on January 2, 2011, I can perch on my purple exercise ball, fingertips curled above the keyboard, and dig in on “the story of my heart”: working title Defiance.

Why save this one? Easy! Because the Defiance characters and storyline fits today’s publishing trends. This industry is difficult enough to navigate without spending time, effort, and energy on a book nobody (well, except maybe me) wants to read! Instead, I’ll put my all into Defiance, and when I believe it’s ready, I’ll submit the synopsis and first three chapters to my very capable agent.

And hopefully, before editors’ fingers turn the pages, I’ll be hard at work on the second story, Tuxedo Bend, in my newly formed short-stack of ideas.

Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m organized to a fault. (Some who know me put extra emphasis on the last word in that sentence, but I digress . . ..) If my life isn’t in order, I can’t focus, can’t concentrate, can’t get anything done. Chaos—even a small amount of it—puts me into a never-ending tailspin to fix this and do that; in order to concentrate on the task at hand, my tiny brain needs to see and feel (and believe) that all my ducks are quacking in a tidy row, all the Ts are crossed, all the Is dotted.

Once I’d cleared the filing cabinets and my computer files, there was no turning back, because I wasted no time in lugging pounds of paper to the curb. Tempting as it was to drag it back, I forced myself to sit at the kitchen table, sipping hot black coffee to await the trash truck. I’d barely filled a second cup when I heard the telltale rumble . . . and cringed as two burly guys hefted the silvery can and dumped its contents into the back of the truck. Well, I thought, maybe the rats and roaches at the landfill would enjoy reading what no agent or editor ever had.

Those manuscripts are miles from my office, but their distance disproves the old “Out of sight, out of mind” adage. I think of them every day, sometimes more: Could a few have been rewritten? (If so, which?) Could I weave elements of Novel A into the plotline of Novel B? Might this character perform better in that story?

Strangely, knowing that they were as gone as last year’s Christmas fruitcake opened my mind in a brand-new way.

As an avid gardener, sometimes when a plant malingers, harsh pruning is in order. Lopping dead stuff, whacking back to the original plant, is often the only way to get healthy green chutes and encourage big fragrant blooms.

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

So my advice to you? Instead wishing Santa had delivered more hours-per-day, try setting aside three measly hours . . . and use them to prune your files. I promise, it’s the gift that keeps on giving, for the space you’ll create in your office will cry out to the Universe, “Fill me!” as fresh new ideas form in your brain.

I’ll close by saying that I hope the good Lord will bless you with a happy, healthy, new year that’s filled with too many joys to count . . .

. . . and story ideas that will make your publishing dreams come true.

Happy 2011!


Maverick Heart