Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Interview with Lori Soard, author of 'Cupid's Quest'

Lori Soard has a PhD in Journalism and Creative Writing, but she's hardly the stuffy professor type. She loves nothing better than a good romantic comedy and thinks the good guy should always win and the ending should always be happy.

From an early age, Lori started honing her story telling skills. As a kid she was rarely seen without a book in her hand, even walking and reading at the same time. Her first stories were about the world around her. At twenty she wrote her first novel, which she admits was horrible. At twenty-one, she sold her first article to a local newspaper. Once she got that taste of having others read her work and realizing that she could reach others and touch their hearts, there was no turning back for this natural born writer.

"If I can make someone's day just a tiny bit better," Lori says, "if I can make them smile even though they are sad, make them think things could be better, make them understand how much God loves them, then I have accomplished something. I write my stories, articles and books with that one person in mind who really needs the message. If I can change one person's perspective, then I've succeeded."

Lori is a life-long Hoosier and lives in southern
Indiana with her two daughters, husband and beloved pets. "During the extreme low points in life, it has been my animals that have seen me through. There is nothing like the deep devotion of a dog or the unconditional love of a cat." Lori adores animals and while some of her dear friends have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge she will always stand by her belief that animals make the world a better place.
Her latest book is the inspirational contemporary romance, Cupid’s Quest.
For More Information

What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. Even before I could write, my dad and I would make up stories. I can remember being two or three years old, and he would tell me a story and have me
decide what happened next. He and I also played a game where he would give me words out of Reader’s Digest and tell me what they meant and then I’d repeat it back later. I know, sounds boring, but it was actually fun for me.

My mom always encouraged my creativity. She would help me build these humongous Barbie houses out of old encyclopedias stood on end and furniture we’d make, such as a bed out of a Kleenex box and scraps of fabric. She never fussed at me for making a huge mess or made me clean it right up. I’d come up with a ton of stories for those Barbies. There was always a villain and then there was romance between Ken and Barbie.

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Even though I was always writing stories and even shared them with friends, it never occurred to me that you could make a living from writing. I actually went to college and got an English education degree. However, I had to fulfill some electives, so I took some journalism classes. It was my journalism teacher who had us write a local story and submit it to the local paper. The paper bought my story and put it on the front page. I only got paid $25, but it was a light bulb moment for me. You could make money writing?

I was working at Ford Motor Company, so giving up $28/hour plus overtime and great benefits was not in my plans. However, I worked across from a girl who enjoyed writing too. Our jobs were so boring. Tighten a bolt, tighten another bolt, tighten another, ad naseum. But, we talked. We talked about our story ideas and books we liked and what we’d written that week. We bounced ideas off each other and I wrote when I could and started to publish a few articles.

When I got pregnant with my second child, we started talking about me staying home with the kids. It would be a big lifestyle change for us to lose my income, though. Unfortunately, I lost that baby through a miscarriage at about 8 weeks. Later, when I got pregnant with our youngest daughter, I was having problems with that pregnancy, too. We made the decision that I would quit and rest as much as possible. But I was so, so, so bored. I started sending out queries and working on another book and actually began sending my babies out into the world for publication. I was about 20 when I wrote my first book and it got rejected FAST. I was about 25 when I started staying home and getting serious about writing.

Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?

No, I try to just enjoy the experience. However, if I don’t like the way it ends, I have been known to sit down and rewrite or daydream a new ending. Kill my favorite character and I will just rewrite the ending so she lives. End a series I love and I’ll keep it going on in my daydreams.

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

I’ve always loved it. I remember my first grade teacher going over how each letter made a sound (we only learned the letters in kindergarten back then). Then, she showed us how the sounds made words. I was hooked. I absorbed every book she had on her shelf and then started writing my own stories and keeping a journal.

As I said before, even before that, we were telling stories in my family. My mom’s family is also from Appalachia and I just remember always sitting in the room at family gatherings and hearing stories about things that happened in the past, the family, and strange things. It was more of an oral storytelling tradition, but I am certain that this had an impact as well.

Another memory that I love from my childhood is of my paternal grandmother. She knew I loved books. She lived in downtown Indianapolis, and she would walk with me to the Indiana State library. They had a huge children’s section and she showed me the Beatrix Potter books and said she thought I’d like them because I have also always loved animals. She then would sit in that library and read for as long as I wanted to stay there and read. For hours, she would just sit and quietly read and let me enjoy those books. As an adult, I realize what a sacrifice that was. What a beautiful example of the patience of a grandparent with their grandchild. I hope I can do the same for one of my grandchildren one day.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

1. Study your craft and learn the rules, and then forget them all. Yes, it is important to know how to write and how to write well, but it is more important to write from the heart. Sometimes you have to break a rule to get a point across. I think Dean Koontz is a perfect example of this. He sometimes breaks his sentences into single words. This creates an intense, staccato rhythm that is suited to suspense.

2. If an editor takes the time to give you feedback, then rework your book and send it back again. Editors are extremely busy. They don’t typically send you feedback unless they see something they like in your writing.

3. Don’t give up. If you love to write, write for yourself first. Even if your friends and family are the only ones that ever see it, you’ll have an audience. Keep writing, keep sending your work out and one day you will succeed. Did you know that Einstein was called “slow,” that Harrison Ford was told he would never be an actor, that Thomas Edison’s teachers felt he was dimwitted? What if they’d given up? What if they hadn’t kept doing what they loved?

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

I try not to. I think artists always feel things a little deeper. We tend to be more sensitive and also to pick up on it when people are being mean in subtle ways. Unfortunately, I used to get really, really hurt when someone was mean.

Then, one day, after I made myself about as vulnerable as I ever have in the hopes of repairing a friendship, I was told that I just “wear my heart on my sleeve.” Trust me that it was not said in a loving manner. And, this was from people who frankly had done me and my daughter wrong and also had quite a bit to be sorry for in my opinion.

Something in my broke that day, honestly. Those words cut me to my core. It hurt. It hurt so much that a shell went up around my heart that no one was going to break. But, I know that’s not the way we’re supposed to be. We are supposed to care and care deeply and sometimes we’ll get hurt in the process. I had to pray long and hard for God to soften my heart again, because I got pretty hard for a while and I can say that I didn’t shed a tear for a good three years. Over time, though, my heart has softened. Maybe not to where it was, but it is safer in my chest than on my sleeve ;)

So, today, I try not to let things get to me so much. If I am hurt, I go to God with it and I pray for the other person. Now, there have been times when I’ve prayed something like, “God, you know I don’t really want to pray for her and you KNOW what she did, but I guess I have to pray for her, so there.” That isn’t the right spirit, but sometimes it is all you can manage. Over time, your prayers grow more sincere and you’re able to let things go and focus on what truly is important in life.

Yes, my writing is important to me, but it is not the most important thing. Family, friends, faith, and my pets are what are most important to me. Time is fleeting. It is so important to spend it on what truly does matter. I feel that even more this year as we’ve lost people I love and are now facing a serious illness from someone very close to us.

What hours do you write best?

I’m a major night owl. I often call myself a vampire. I start to wake up about 9 p.m. and am most creative from then until three or four in the morning.

Are you an avid reader?

Yes, I always have been. I absorb magazine articles, newspapers, and books. If we are on a trip, I’m in the passenger seat reading something. If I am in a doctor’s office waiting, I am reading. I can’t imagine life without the escape of reading. It would be so very boring. My husband loves television and it is okay – I have shows I like – but if I had to choose between books and TV, I’d pick books every time.

What are you reading now?

I am reading an ARC of Robin Bayne’s Reunion at Crane Lake. She is an extremely skilled writer. Her characters are the ones you care about long after the story ends. I’m about halfway through the book. I am also doing a bible study with my women’s group at church on The War Room, so getting ready to read that. I loved the movie, so I’m sure the book will be fabulous, too.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the second book in the Cupid’s Crossing series. The title is Change of Heart and it is Sinclaire’s story. She’s the single mom from Cupid’s Quest. She has a lot of angst to work through, but I think we’ll get there. You also get to catch up with Brandt and Gracie again as they plan their wedding and everything possible goes wrong.

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