Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sit-Down Saturday

Loree Lough Talks About

THE FIREFIGHTER’S REFRAIN

This story is close to my heart for a couple of reasons…

Like most of you, I respect and admire first responders, and firefighters are high on that list. Long ago, I spent a few years entertaining audiences in the U.S. and Canada with the hope of landing a recording contract…just like Sam Marshall. Life had other ideas, and that’s okay with me, since combining these themes is what gave birth the third and final book in Heartwarming’s “Those Marshall Boys” series.
From the moment I first saw this cover (aren’t Harlequin’s designers just the most talented artists, ever!), I was astounded by the hidden messages: Sam's physical strength. The kindness in his blue eyes. That boyish, playful smile. The stylin' haircut and five o’clock shadow that tells us he’s…cool.

As you no doubt know, every author must dedicate countless hours to research and interviews if they hope to write accurate, believable stories. The Firefighter’s Refrain was no exception. I spent a whole bunch of time at local fire houses, talking with about a dozen full time and volunteer firefighters. A few graciously shared the titles of manuals, while others let me borrow old workbooks used by academy instructors and cadets. Poring over these tomes provided invaluable information—material that lent authenticity and realism to the action and dialog of every classroom and training session scene. According to my log book, I invested 102 hours on research and interviews alone. When added to the months it took to write and edit the book, I had invested 4,000+ hours in the creation of this novel. And that didn’t count industry-required marketing and promotional stuff!

Interviews are part of that required public relations and marketing stuff. When reporters ask if I have a favorite scene from this story, I briefly describe the characters’ trip to the Nashville Zoo, the night Sam treats Finn Leary and her disabled sister to dinner and front row seats at the Grand Ole Opry, Thanksgiving dinner when, like so many families, a whole bunch of issues make the rounds along with the turkey and gravy. But the scene that takes place on Mother’s Day, when Sam and Finn are alone? Well, all I can say is…that’s my favorite! <sigh>
 

Reporters also want to know if I have a favorite character. That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite! I do my best to explain how much I admire Finn’s willingness to sacrifice her own happiness to ensure Ciara’s wellbeing. How a lifetime of stepping up when her ‘wanna be stars’ parents stepped out explains her stubborn “There’s no such thing as a reliable musician” mindset. And then I tell them that the patience and understanding Sam exercises as he works toward convincing her that he is trustworthy, well, it makes him even more admirable…and loveable!

When interviewers ask how I came up with the ‘look’ of the main characters, I explain that there isn’t a reader among us who doesn’t appreciate photographs that allow us to visualize the characters we’re learning about. While writing The Firefighter’s Refrain, I kept these pictures nearby to help me describe how Sam and Finn might look when Life touched them with joy, surprise, hurt, disappointment…and love. I'm tickled pink with the final image the Harlequin design team chose for Sam, though, and I hope you’ll drop me note to let me know if you think they came mighty close to what I'd dreamed about all during the writing of the story!

Finn Leary

Sam Marshall (in my while-writing dreams)

The Sam Marshall!

In every interview, whether for radio, TV, or a magazine/newspaper, this question inevitably comes up: “What’s the most interesting thing you learned, researching this novel?” 
 

To answer that one, I’ll hearken back to all the research I conducted--information that taught me how much time, mental effort, and back-breaking work goes into becoming a firefighter. I can't think of a movie or TV show that fully and accurately describes just how challenging and difficult those academy classes can be, or how demanding the written and physical exams are. So next time you see a firefighter out and about, extend a hand and offer a sincere Thank you, because earning the right to wear that uniform wasn’t easy!




“What are you reading now, Loree?” is on the ‘questions to ask authors’ list, too. Right now, I’m reading Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska, a hilarious, adventurous book by Torry Martin and Doug Peterson. And guess what! Torry appears quite a few times (as himself!) in The Firefighter's Refrain!

Yet another routine question: “If you could choose a theme song for this novel, what would it be?”

Well, in addition being a former cowboy, injured firefighter-turned-academy instructor, and talented singer-guitarist, Sam is a gifted songwriter. In one scene, he's on the way home from his cousin's wedding, and during the flight between Denver and Nashville, he starts fiddling with the lyrics to a new song...inspired by Finn.  As I wrote the scene, I listened to her rendition of “Love Letter.” It set the mood, perfectly. Watch and listen, and I think you’ll see why...and why I'm such a huge Bonnie Raitt fan…  




So I owe a big thank you to Sam and Finn—and Harlequin—for contracting "Those Marshall Boys", my second 3-book series for Heartwarming. The release of The Firefighter’s Refrain brings the total number of my Books on the Shelves to 105. The biggest thanks for that goes to the readers, who bought all those books and recommended them--and me--to their friends, too.
The bottom drawer of a filing cabinet in my office is where I keep their letters (nearly 20,000 at last count). Letters I’ve made a point to answer, personally. Letters I’ll treasure, always, because they’ve shared their own stories—stories that often parallel the lives of my characters. Over the years, I’ve met some in person, and I consider myself fortunate to call many of them friends. 

Most letters end something like this: “I hope you’ll never retire, Loree!" And "When can we expect your next book!” Thanks to the confidence of my editors at Harlequin, I’ve just signed a contract to write a 3rd series for Heartwarming...three touching (and sometimes humorous) stories featuring heroines who have what it takes to smooth away the rough edges of their handsome heroes!

BEFORE YOU LEAVE, PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A $20 AMAZON E-GIFT CARD OR A SIGNED COPY OF THE FIREFIGHTER'S REFRAIN...



AND IN HONOR OF MOTHER'S DAY, THIS GORGEOUS WREATH TO DECORATE YOUR DOOR, HAND-CRAFTED BY MY TALENTED DAUGHTER, ELICE SISOLAK!


Good luck, and I hope to see you at Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!

37 comments:

  1. Loree, there are so many things I could say about how wonderful this story is and, in fact, all your stories are, and to echo your comments about first responders, but you already know what a huge fan I am of your work and you as a person. Instead, I'll comment on the 20,000 reader letters you've received. WOW!

    I've received some letters. Each and everyone one is special to me and I treasure them, but with letter-writing being a dying form of communication, for 20,000 people to have taken the time to send you a personal note after having enjoyed one of your books sais a lot about the tremendous appeal of your books.

    Congratulations on your 105th release, and very best wishes for continued success!

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  2. Thanks, Kate! Coming from an author as talented as you, that's high praise, indeed! I'm doubly honored that I get to call you Friend! As for the number of books and letters I've accumulated? Let's not forget that I started collecting them after my first release...in 1994! Wishing you the very best weekend possible, dear lady!

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  3. Loree, I have loved a great many of your books, but confess I haven't read all 105, but I'm pretty close to a die-hard Loree Lough fan! This was a fantastic post. Few people outside our industry understand what it takes for an author to research our books. The hours of reading and extrapolating those precise pieces of fact to make our fiction real mount up without our knowing it sometimes until we do as you did...sit down and do the accounting. Most valuable are the interviews--when we can get them...that aid us in getting under the skin of our heroes and heroines to give them authenticity. Both you and Kate are extremely aware and are willing to do all it takes to get the information right. I applaud you, Loree. 105 times over! I can't wait to read the book. And yes, I LOVE your cover.

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    1. Hope your weekend was glorious, Catherine! And you're another author who puts a lot of time and attention into research/interviews, and it shows in your stories and characters! Wishing you a wonderful week!

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  4. Loree, Congratulations! Your work ethic and dedication to your craft are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. Congratulations on securing another series with Heartwarming. Can't wait to hear the details.

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    1. Hey, Marcie! I'm kinda fond of that muscly dude, myself! LOL Have a wonderful week, y'hear!

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    2. Hey Carol! Hope your weekend was wonderful! You're work ethic and dedication to craft is awe-inspiring, too, so thanks for sharing YOUR gifts with the world! Hope the week ahead is beautiful!

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  5. I love the 'hidden messages' in the cover!
    Okay, even without those messages I love the cover!

    Congrats on #105 and for bringing us this series and more in the future.

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    1. Hey, Marcie! I'm kinda fond of that muscly dude, myself! LOL Have a wonderful week, y'hear!

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  6. Okay, I know why we bonded so well--I've loved Bonnie Raitt from way back when she honed her craft in San Francisco's underground music scene. And everyone should genuflect at the feet of firefighters. My husband was a volunteer firefighter for a number of years when we lived in a rural area. Many sleepless nights from the call-outs on the plectron that sat beside our bed. And volunteers have to train and take tests, too. Looking forward to reading the book.

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    1. Oooo yeah, Bonnie's one-of-a-kind voice is something to admire, for sure! Kudos to your hubby--and to you for being a supportive spouse--for years of service! Hope the week ahead is great for you!

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  7. Visiting the Grand Ole Opry is on my bucket list. You made me want to read. My first book ever had a fireman hero. Yup, that was a Heartsong.

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    1. You'll LOVE the Opry. And the Ryman. And the C&W Hall of Fame. And...let's just say Nashville is fantastic! I remember that Heartsong, Pam...IT ONLY TAKES A SPARK, right!? Wishing you a terrific week!

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  8. Congratulations, Loree! I have a couple of hundred letters and thought that was pretty great - but 20,000?! And I've been writing 10 years longer than you! It's too bad we can't just conjure Sam and his buddies and invite them to lunch. With all the dedication and hard work that goes into your research and writing, it's no wonder you're loved everywhere - and here! Continued success and wishes for all great things!

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    1. Lunch with Sam and his buddies sounds delicious! (Sorry, couldn't help myself! LOL) Here's hoping your week ahead is wonderful!

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  9. Congratulations Loree! What a fantastic accomplishment!!!...Here's to 105 more!

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    1. Hi, Stephanie! Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope your weekend was terrific and that the week ahead will be, too!

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  10. Congratulations Loree! What a fantastic accomplishment!!!...Here's to 105 more!

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  11. Awesome! Congratulation on #105, Loree! I have SO loved reading the Marshall Boys series. Wishing you 105 more!

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  12. All this imagery and discussion of the characters has me dying to read this book, Loree! This one sounds like it might be the best one yet in Those Marshall Boys series!

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    1. From your fingertips to readers' eyes, Cerella! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead...and we'll talk soon about our June blog!

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  13. Hi Loree, thanks for the great Sit-Down Saturday. I'll keep it short and sweet by saying that your numbers (102 hours of research, 4,000 hours of work on this book, 2nd 3-part series, Book # 105 and 20,000 fan letters) = great letters/words! :)
    Looking forward to reading this book.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Krissie! I hope you and yours enjoyed a great weekend, and that the week ahead will be even greater! As for numbers...fingers crossed for just one more: The mega Lottery! LOL

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    2. Thank you so much, Loree! It was a lovely weekend, hope yours was as well! :) Hope you do hit the mega lottery! Id say that you've got your lucky numbers already set! :)

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  14. Congratulations on book #105, that's amazing! I've always loved Bonnie Raitt's music, the lyrics are so heartfelt, but it gets even better with her voice, she just pours so much emotion into it.

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    1. I agree 100%: Few singers can compete with Bonnie! Thanks for the congrats! I'm wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

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  15. This book sounds fantastic and I am blown away by how much time you spent researching to make it realistic! Congrats and here's to another 105 :)

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    1. Hi, Amy! Hope your weekend was glorious! Thanks for stopping by, and here's to a wonderful week ahead!

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  16. What a lovely post. Congratulations on #105!

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    1. Thanks, Liz! Hope your weekend was wonderful, and that the week ahead will be, too!

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  17. It is amazing how much research goes into writing a book, this is why I am a reader and not a writer! :) I love the cover of this book and it sounds like a wonderful story. Congratulations on book #105 and hopefully you have many more stories to write for us readers.

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    1. Hey there, Darlene! I'm so happy you stopped by! Hope your upcoming week is wonderful!

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  18. Wow, congrats on new release. I love firefighters

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    1. Thank you, Leslie! Hope your weekend was spectacular!

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  19. ANNOUNCING THE WINNERS!
    Marcie -- $20 Amazon gift card
    Krissie -- wreath, hand-crafted by Loree's daughter Elice (Grace Your Door at Etsy)
    Summer -- signed copy of THE FIREFIGHTER'S REFRAIN

    Please send your email and snail mail addresses, ladies, so I can get your prizes out to you, asap!

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much, Loree! I am one of those who hardly wins anything like this so believe me when I say that you've made my day! Maybe I should play the lottery, too! ;) The wreath is beautiful, your daughter did such a lovely job! I'll treasure it. :) My email is krissiemcmakin@gmail.com Thanks again! :)

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  20. Oh wow!! Thanks Loree! I'll send you my email to your email that I got from your website (loree@loreelough.com).

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