Today I’m so pleased to be joined by Loralee Lillibridge, a fellow member of the Mid-Michigan Chapter of RWA®. Loralee has inspired me in so many ways, with her warm smile, her fantastic sense of humor, and her tenacity. You see, Loralee’s first book was published in 2005 and her 2nd book sold in 2011! That’s a bit of a gap, but through it all, she never gave up. She kept writing, kept submitting, and now all that effort is paying off. Loralee has perseverance, talent, and two book releases to tell us about!
TB: Loralee thanks so much for being here. Please tell us about your most recent release and which aspect of this particular story you love the most.
LL: ALL THAT MATTERS released on September 9 and I’m so excited to share this story with readers. I absolutely loved everything about writing Buddy Lee and Faith’s story. The couple became so real to me as their journey of love unfolded, it was difficult to let them go. I still feel close to them and often find myself wondering “what if…” . My imagination never shuts down, you know.
TB: I know it doesn’t! I’ve seen your Facebook posts at 3am stating you can’t sleep – but you can write! What are you working on now?
LL: I have two more Texas Hill Country contemporary romances completed and waiting in the wings and an unwritten one brewing. I’m also writing as Lora Lee in a new genre. JOYFUL NOISE is a humorous cozy mystery series with some colorful characters. Think GLEE singing gospels with a surprise twist. Book #1, BRINGING IN THE THIEVES, is set in the ultra-conservative, fictional small town of Love, Georgia. That story debuts next year for Bell Bridge Books. My Gemini personality is showing, because I’m loving the challenge of writing for two different publishers in two different genres. Just color me happy!
TB: Ah, yes! The dual nature of writing in multiple genres. I write both contemporary and historical depending on what kind of mood I’m in. It’s nice to have a second option of one story is giving you trouble! How long have you been writing and at what point in your career did you first feel confident calling yourself a writer?
LL: At my age, it seems like I’ve been writing forever plus a year, but actually I really got serious when I joined RWA in 1984. (Hmmm, that may qualify for “forever”.) My biggest roadblock at that time was my inability to finish an entire manuscript. Believe me, that’s an absolute necessity if you want to get published. Focus, focus, focus, people! My first published book was ACCIDENTAL HERO for Silhouette Special Edition. That one came out in Dec. 2005. Do the math and it comes pretty darn close to “forever”.
TB: That might be the one drawback of having too many great ideas. What inspires you? Books? Music, People?
LL: Oh, music, definitely! I love country western ballads and the stories they tell. Love country swing, too. I have play lists for every book and every mood. Works for me.
TB: Is it true that if you play country music backwards, everybody gets all their stuff back? Hah! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. What techniques do you use to help develop your story? (Storyboarding, outlining, daydreaming, interviewing your characters? Having a psychic reading for a character?)
LL: Hmmm. Good question. I couldn’t storyboard if my life depended on it. Outlining – maybe. Daydreaming – oh, yeah! Lots of that. Characters usually show up unannounced and introduce themselves. I try to let them do the talkin’. In ALL THAT MATTERS, Buddy Lee was always there from the beginning. I knew he had a secret love but Faith didn’t appear until I sat back and stopped trying to fix him up with a bunch of other girls. When it’s right, it’s right, and I’ve learned not to mess with a good thing. My characters insist on being in charge. Seriously.
TB: I’m glad I’m not the only one that happens to. I think non-writers believe WE do the story-telling. But most writers I know will say it’s the characters doing the talking. We’re just the transcribers! Who was the first person you contacted when you learned your first book had been purchased by a publisher? What was that conversation like?
LL: Hubby. His reply: “That’s good.” Yep, then I started calling my critique group. Nancy Gideon was the first one who answered her phone. That conversation was much more exciting. One by one, my family members got the news, then the serious celebrating began.
TB: What did you do to celebrate your first release? And your most recent release?
LL: Two years after my first release, I finally took a dream trip to Ireland and the UK. Absolutely wonderful. I hope to return someday and stay longer.
TB: Oh, let me know if you need a travel companion!! I’d gladly go Celtic hunk-hunting with you. And what a perfect destination for a writing retreat. What do you consider a perfect writing day?
LL: No meals to cook, no laundry to do. No interruptions or emergencies.
TB: Do you have writing rituals? Habits?
LL: I can’t write in coffee shops, etc. but often wish I could. I’m too easily distracted, so I’m better off alone in my office with the door closed. Habits? Bad ones probably outnumber the good ones, so I won’t list those. Good habits…I like to be organized, make daily to-do lists, and say my prayers every night.
TB: I can’t write in coffee shops either. I need total silence and blank walls to gaze at. Do you have critique partners and if so, how do you ‘work’ together?
LL: Actually, my group has evolved from critique to supportive, as we have grown together in our writing careers and our needs. There are eight of us, but rarely are we all able to get together at the same time.
TB: What/where was your first writer’s conference and how did you feel attending it? How are they ‘different’ for you now?
LL: This will definitely date me, but my first conference was the Romance Writers of America conference in Detroit. Must’ve have been ‘84 or ’85. The Mid-Michigan RWA chapter had just been organized. I was so impressed to be in the company of actual published authors and realized I had so much to learn. Not so different now…I’m still impressed by that. Still learning, too!
TB: How has your writing process changed over the course of your career?
LL: I’ve learned to focus better, to take myself seriously as a writer, to believe in my ability to write a good book. Writing will always be a journey of ups and downs, of new things to learn and new challenges to overcome. Moving forward is the only direction on the road map to success.
TB: What does your family say about your career success and your professional journey?
LL: They’re extremely proud of me.
TB: As they should be! What a five things (not including live beings) would you take with you to live on a deserted island for one year? Let’s say this island has food, shelter and plumbing!
LL: Tracy, where do you come up with these questions? 1. My Kindle (loaded ahead with numerous books) 2. My copy of COWBOYS AND INDIANS magazine with Sam Elliott on the cover 3. My laptop, notebooks, pens, etc. 4. Digital camera 5. Cell phone.
TB: I come up with questions when I’m busy NOT writing. And I hate to nit-pick but you won’t have cell towers on this deserted island. So, instead, I’ll let you bring the real Sam Elliott. How’s that?? Now back to writerly things: What advice would you give to an aspiring, newbie writer?
LL: Butt in chair, fingers on the keyboard. Perseverance and a burning desire to see your book published. It’s hard work, but if you’re serious, you can make it happen. It took me years, often tough ones when I quit buying green bananas and wanted to give up. But hey, I buy a green banana once in awhile now, just to reinforce my faith in the future.
TB: That’s great advice! I’m going to go buy some green bananas right this minute! Maybe it will inspire me. And speaking of great advice, what advice have you received that has been particularly helpful?
LL: So much good advice has come from wonderful writers. Stay focused and keep writing. Keep an open mind to changes, always be willing to learn.
TB: I am certainly learning that this is a fluid business and we do need to keep working at the craft, as well as understanding the business of publishing. What are a few ‘myths’ about being a writer that you’d like to dispel? (Aside from the one about us making loads of money!)
LL: You mean the money thing is a myth? I’m crushed. I suppose there’s no magic formula to success either. What’s a writer to do?
TB: I might say your ‘magic’ formula is to keep writing and believe in yourself, which is what you’ve done so successfully. Tell me something most people don’t know about you and would be surprised to learn.
LL: Hmmm. Well, I’ve ridden a camel and explored the Kasbah in Tangier. Does that count?
TB: That certainly counts! Very exciting. I can picture you with fancy scarfs and jingles on your ankles. That would be a good look for you! Switching gears again: what is your all-time favorite movie?
LL: There you go again, asking me to name favorites. I can name three off the top of my head. Gone With the Wind, The Quiet Man, McClintock and The African Queen. Okay, so that’s four. No more favorites lists, okay?
TB: Great choices! And The Quiet Man?! Loralee, you bring a tear to my eye. That’s my ultimate favorite, and a movie I used to watch with my mother. I can quote so many lines from that one, but no one ever knows what I’m talking about. 🙂 “Wave like a protestant.” “When I drinks whiskey, I drinks whiskey.” “My mouth is so dry and the sun is that hot on me pate.” “Here’s a big stick, to beat the lovely lady with.” “A man would have to be a sprinter to catch a wife in a bed that big.” See, I told you. And, might I add that my middle name is Maureen, after a certain gorgeous redhead. The similarity ends there, I’m afraid.
Loralee thanks so much for sharing a bit of your journey with us today. I can’t wait to hear about your book sales and to read each one. All my best to you!
Please visit Loralee on her blog and website, Across the Back Fence at http://loraleelillibridge.blogspot.com/
Loralee grew up in Texas loving cowboys and rodeos, but relocated to Michigan after her marriage to a handsome Yankee who stole her heart. She still favor country love songs, and seeing a field of Texas bluebonnets makes her homesick, but she admits West Michigan has a beauty all its own.
Now she enjoy writing emotionally fulfilling stories centered on the relationship of a man and a woman and their often rocky road to love. Heart-warming stories of ordinary people and extra-ordinary love.
She’s a former president and founding member of the Mid-Michigan Chapter of RWA. She credits her chapter and her wonderful critique partners for their unlimited support and encouragement on her roller-coaster ride to becoming a published romance author.