I had an opportunity recently to chat with a very
busy…and I do mean very busy author about her career and just about
Have you always
wanted to be a writer?
no…not really. I remember that even as a little kid, I loved telling
stories. (That fact made me a really popular babysitter, even with
my siblings!) It wasn’t until much later in life that I turned the
story-telling into a career.
Do you find it
difficult to writer with several different pseudonyms and does each
one have their own style? What are all the names you use when
names, for me, have had very specific purposes, and didn’t require a
special style. The first pen name, Cara McCormack, was chosen by a
writer pal (Una McManus) and me when we decided to write a 3-book
series together for Heartsong Presents. Una’s Irish, you see, and
I’m Italian…and ‘cara’ means ‘friend’ in both languages. Though
Una’s personal life interfered, and she wasn’t able to write more
than the first book in the series with me, I used the name anyway,
sorta in tribute to her original input.
Aleesha Carter was chosen when, during a discussion with editor
Becky Germany, I learned there were many African American readers at
Heartsong, but no African American writers. I suggested that maybe,
if one or two novels were released BY an African American, other
readers with writing talents would begin submitting their novels for
consideration. So when I wrote Soft Beats My Heart as Aleesha,
readers enjoyed it enough to ask for sequels…and sure enough,
African American authors began submitting stories!
You write under
several different names and different genres, do you have a
prefer using my own name, and as for genres, I guess I’d have to say
that whichever genre I’m writing at the time is my favorite. Sounds
like a cop-out, but really, it isn’t. I think most authors feel the
same way about the stories they’re telling, right now.
Tell us a little
about Loree and who she is.
wow. What a loaded question! I was born in Wisconsin, raised in
Illinois, and earned my college tuition money by singing and playing
my Yamaha guitar. Yep. You read that right…I sat on ‘the piano
lady’s’ stool for years, strumming and crooning whatever tunes were
top of the charts. My tip jars at Holiday, Ramada, Hilton, Sheraton
Inns overflowed, so I guess I did a fair-to-middlin’ job,
where my Veterans’ Administration administrator dad was stationed at
the time, I met my hubby. I knew in an instant that bouncing over
highways and byways in Greyhound buses was over, and within two
years, all of my crooning was in the middle of the night, as I
rocked my first daughter to sleep. And I’ve been singing “Happy,
Happy, Joy, Joy” ever since.
I read that you not
only write books, but, also, have written a song for a country
artist. Do you still write songs and how did that come about?
Actually, I wrote FOUR songs for one artist, and one song for
another…both Grammy nominated stars. Like story-telling, my
song-writing goes back to my teen years, when unrequited love had me
cryin’ into my pillow.
like every writer, when submitting a proposal to a publisher, I took
a chance when I sent my songs to this guy and gal. (Took a little
time, researching and making phone calls, to find out where
to send the stuff, but….) I’m probably the least tekkie person
you’ll ever meet; I didn’t send a CD or a video to the country
singers. Nope. Not me. Those poor kids found an old-fashioned
cassette tape in the mail.
the call came from the guy in question (contractual stuff prohibits
me from even hinting who he is), I thought it was my husband,
pulling a practical joke. It wasn’t until I was invited to sing
harmony to my own words and lyrics that I believed this guy really
was who he claimed to be. The contract arrived a mere week later…and
a month or so after that…I heard from the female star, who regularly
works with this guy.
And…do I still write songs? You bet!
With so many
different things going on you must be very busy. How do you find a
balance between all your different endeavors and your family?
drink a lot of coffee, for one thing. I make a ‘to do’ list, every
single day. I don’t prioritize the stuff in order-of-importance.
Instead, I just jot down what needs ‘doing’ that particular day.
Some days, everything gets checked off, but that’s rare. Like all
the rest of you, quite a few things get moved to tomorrow’s ‘to do’
list. Like, for example, “Buy coffee….”
What is your
perfect writing environment? Do you prefer writing in quiet or do
you need to have some background noise?
and have written anywhere. In the car, on airplanes, while waiting
for a doctor or dental appointment, as my hubby watches an evening
game of baseball or football on TV. Noise doesn’t bother me, but
when I sit at my desk, I don’t turn on the radio and I never watch
television. In fact, I get so ‘into’ the work that my husband has
learned to whistle and rap lightly on the walls as he approaches my
office…or pay the price after he’s startled me (and I’ve peeled
myself off the ceiling).
How do your family
and friends feel about your writing career? Do they read your work?
think most people think it’s pretty cool, what I do for a living.
There are a few, of course, who say stupid STUPID things, like “You
don’t know how lucky you are that you don’t have a job” or “It must
be SO nice, not having to work.” But they are, thankfully, the
exception, not the rule.
oldest daughter has read every word I’ve written, fiction and non,
and I have quite a few friends who can make the same claim. The rest
of my family and friends, while supportive, aren’t ‘into’ reading.
And that’s fine, because I’m not ‘into’ their work, either!
I read that you
love wolves and often donate proceeds from your books to the Wolf
Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. Tell us a about your love of wolves and
how it your interest wolves began.
love of wolves began when I was researching Montana Sky back
in the mid-90s. I had the good fortune to meet a fella who’d rescued
a wolf pair, brought to him by some college kids who’d found them as
cubs while hiking in the Rockies. Having been mistreated, and fed a
poor diet meant the poor creatures couldn’t be released into the
wild. They weren’t pets, exactly, but they didn’t have the physical
stamina to survive on their own, either. Meeting and interacting
with these two magnificent animals made me want to know more about
wolves, and as my ‘information supply’ grew, so did my love and
Do you have any
advice for aspiring writers?
mentored (literally) hundreds of aspiring writers, one on one, since
the late 90s. I told them what I’ve told every one of the thousands
who’ve attended my lectures, seminars, workshops, college and online
classes: Tell a good story, then clean up your grammar and
punctuation, and learn to take rejection for what it is: NOT a
stumbling block, but a stepping stone!
Do you enjoy
hearing from readers and what is the best way to contact you?
I love hearing from readers, so much
that I’ve had to dedicate a second filing cabinet drawer to store
their letters. (Some have become tried-and-true friends, and many
are now pen pals!) Readers can reach me by
(Just be sure to put “I’m a Loree reader” in the subject line so I
don’t delete your message!)
I read that you
teach seminars, can you tell us a bit about what you teach at your
my dream of becoming a published author began, I signed up for
numerous classes to improve my skills. More often than not, I left
the last session frustrated and confused, because the instructors
didn’t impart any truly useful information…stuff that could
help me get into print. That meant my early days were fraught with
hundreds of ‘learned the hard way’ lessons.
trial and error method eventually helped me figure out a few things
about writing, about storytelling, about submissions, about
marketing and public relations. And those are the things I teach in
thing I’ve learned as a teacher, above all else, is that there are a
lot of phony balonies out there, pretending to have credentials and
information to share, when in reality, they’ve merely read the same
how-to books we all have access to! I tell students they owe it to
themselves to research their teachers thoroughly. Do they claim to
have a long list of books in print? Check it out! (I happen to know
a handful of instructors whose ‘claims to fame’ are all the product
of self-publishing.) Do they list colleges and universities as
‘places where they’ve taught’? Call the institutions and check them
out! (I know another handful of instructors whose ‘claims of
affiliation’ are the product of OFFERING classes that, because no
students signed up, were never taught.) Do they list writing awards
and glowing reviews of their work? Look it up! (Yes, I know yet
another handful of instructors who INVENTED—not only the awards—but
the organizations who awarded them!)
I’ve said in my blog: You wouldn’t let some dude on a street corner,
who claimed to be a pediatrician, administer inoculations to your
baby. You wouldn’t hire Any Joe who showed up at your door,
professing to be a roofing contractor, put new shingles on your
house. You wouldn’t pay a fella with “Joe the Plumber” painted on
the side of his truck to fix your leaky toilet. You’d do your
homework first, right? You’d check these guys out, right?
Doesn’t your writing career deserve the same protection?
Can you tell us
some of your favorites…foods, movies, authors, books, and anything
else that comes to mind?
Hmmm…. That’s a tough one. I have lots of favorite foods (which
explains why I’m a lifetime Weight Watcher). In fact, the only
things I don’t like are lima and kidney beans.
anything written by Jack London, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, and Nora
Sobbed like crazy watching Shadowlands and Sommersby. Know all the
words to all the songs in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Sound of Music. Weird as it seems, I laughed like mad at Austin Powers. And I’d rather tune the TV to the Home and
Garden channel than just about any other station on cable. Perry
Como was my mother’s favorite singer, and I’m hard-pressed to find a
voice today to compete with his. (Though “my” country stars come
Do you ever get
writer’s block and how do you deal with it?
don’t believe in writer’s block. Writing, like teaching or nursing
or lawyering, is a career. As such, I go to work every day and,
well, I work. This isn’t the result of having contracts and
deadlines. I felt the same way long before I had more than a hope of
becoming a published author.
then, I set aside a place in my house that would be “my” writing
space. I didn’t pay bills there. Didn’t copy recipes. The kids
weren’t allowed to color or paste or play there. It was where I went
also get dressed every day. Nothing fancy. But I can’t get into
‘work’ mode in my PJs. So even on days when I don a baseball cap
(rather than fiddle with my hair) and go makeup-less to my desk, I
put on a clean outfit.
turn off the phone, turn off the TV, turn off the radio, and tidy my
desk. I read and edit yesterday’s work, to get me in the right frame
of mind (and to remind me where I am in my story). I set a timer (so
I remember to eat, have a drink of water, take a potty break, etc.).
Then, once I’ve ‘cleaned up’ yesterday’s writing, I dive into
today’s stuff. And repeat the whole process tomorrow.
Is there anything
else you would like to share with us?
have to say OUTLINE. I’m sure there are talented, successful, famous
authors out there who write, as they say, by the seat of their
pants. But they’re rare. Amazing. Admirable. (Did I say rare?)
of us wouldn’t leave home for places unknown without a map. An
itinerary. A plan of some kind. For me, it’s the all-important
Timeline. (I’m happy to share the one I use. Just email me and I’ll
send it to you!)
Without it, I’d meander. Rewrite. Sigh. Pace. Have a LOT of V-8 to
the forehead moments. (Moments? Ha! DAYS!)
I’ll close by sharing two of my all-time favorite quotes (and leave
you to figure out why they’re my favorites):
do not. There is no ‘try’.
turtle only makes progress when it sticks its neck out.
to hear from you soon!