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).

Magic Wands and Sparkly Wishes

(WARNING: This column contains stomach-turning words like puke and poop!)

Pardon me, please, if I yawn, but I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. to the unmistakable sounds of Pet in Distress. Anyone with a cat or dog knows which noises I’m talking about: Starts somewhere deep in the gastrointestinal system and works its way toward the throat, where it gurgles and sputters before becoming a smoking, stinking, foaming mound beside the bed.

Oh, believe me, I wholeheartedly agree: Yuck. With a capital Y.

So I flung back the covers and gingerly set one foot, then the other, onto the carpet. Ha . . . not a drop of the stuff between my toes! Spoke too soon, as it turned out, for no sooner had I put the dot under the exclamation point of my boastful thought than . . . squish. Which led to some pretty colorful mutterings, let me tell you.

I’ll spare you the (remaining) gory details. Suffice it to say that half a roll of paper towels and a couple dozen squirts of carpet cleaner later, all was well. Even the dog.

But my early-morning wake-up call got me t’thinkin’:

When your day starts out this way, how do you write happy?

It’s tempting to finger-stomp around the keyboard, banging out angry facial expressions and surly dialogue. But gosh darn it, the stuff I’d saved yesterday didn’t call for narrowed eyes and curled lips, let alone heated words.

Maybe a visual stroll through the adages and clichés taped to my monitor (the wall above it, every shelf around it) would brighten my spirit. You know, things like “Good enough never is” and “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” “Do or do not; there is no ‘try.’” Ah, one of my all-time favorites, and I lean on it heavily when things aren’t going my way. (And when others aren’t doing things my way: “Don’t say you’ll try to remember to wipe peanut butter off the kitchen counter when you make a sandwich, just DO it.”) But, nope, that one didn’t do the trick, either.

It’s tempting to blame my fairy godmother, who ran away from home when I was, oh, I don’t know, thirty-eight? Yep. Packed up her sparkly magic wand and her sack of happy wishes glitter and hit the highway, leaving nothing but a wall of “sage-isms” to help me cope with days that start off, well, snarly.

Much as I hate to admit it, Nike’s tried and true “Just do it” works (usually) better than magic wands and sparkly wishes.

So, deep breath. Spine straight and chin up, the official “Just do it” posture and a ritualistic precursor to a stern self–pep talk: I don’t want to be in this foul mood; wasn’t the dog’s fault, after all, that he ate god-knows-what and it didn’t agree with him. So get over it, already. The mess is cleaned up. Heck, the house even smells good, thanks to the fresh scents built into the carpet cleaner. So look for the bright side!

Such as . . .

I did, after all, wake up. The coffee pot didn’t leak, and the computer whirred from the moment I hit the ON button. Ditto with my Internet connection. And there, at my command, was the file I’d saved yesterday after a grueling twelve hours at the keyboard. And no one (or pet) was injured while cleaning up doggy vomit.

Injured . . .

About that time that my strange brain conjured ways that I (or the dog) might have been harmed, cleaning up the, ah, well, you know. Picturing me, being eaten alive by a pulsing, growing blob of former stomach contents flicked my “bad mood” switch to “it’s a pretty good day!” Just like that, all is well with my world. Well, mostly. If I choose to look for it. And since I have a deadline, I looked.

So here’s some learned-the-hard-way advice from your old Auntie Loree: Next time you sit down to write and the mood you’re in doesn’t match the stuff that’s supposed to happen in your scenes, flex your “picture this” muscles. See your world as it isn’t. Now, there’s some funny stuff, I tell ya.

My next challenge? Getting out of this upbeat mood before I head over to the post office. Because if I go in there grinning like Bozo with new shoes on, those people behind the counter will forget all about the “service” part of their corporate title and put my happy attitude to the ultimate test.

Happy writing, folks, and may your days be free of doggy, well, you know . . .


Beautiful Bandit