From Ashes to Honor, First Responders Series #1From Ashes to Honor, First Responders Series #1
Loree Lough
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If he had only answered that last phone call from the World Trade Center . . .
Minutes before two jumbo jets changed U.S. history, New York police officer Austin Finley ignored the call from his brother, who'd been bugging him for days. Trying to live with his one regret causes hatred and bitterness to consume Austin, and when counselor Mercy Samara recommends desk duty, Austin resigns. Haunted by her own memories of 9/11, Mercy takes a job as a school counselor in Baltimore. When Austin, now an EMT, responds to an emergency at Mercy's school, both are stunned and wary.

Finally their common-and painful-memories turn suspicion into friendship, then romance. But hard questions linger: Can they truly move beyond their past harsh judgments and harsh words? Will their past finally bring them closer or-as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near-drive them farther apart?
     


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Best selling author Loree Lough (literally) sang for her supper, performing before packed audiences throughout the Midwest. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune for her grandkids, but mostly, she just writes. With more than 3,000,000 copies of her books in circulation, Loree has 82 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; one novel optioned for a TV movie; more books slated for release between now and 2013), 68 short stories, and over 2,500 articles in print.  Over the years, her stories have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards and 4- and 5-star reviews. Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs,etc.
A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations. She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero and husband.

Favorite Bible Verse: 2 Chronicles 20:17  “You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not, and be not dismayed; tomorrow, go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” (Revised Standard Version)

I love this verse and lean on it often, because it’s God’s promise that no matter what I’m struggling with at the moment, He will use it (and me!) to make a better Christian of me.


 

 Our Interview with Loree Lough


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mom, and grandmom who goes to work every day with a grateful heart, because of all the jobs I’ve had (and there have been lots!), the writing life is rivaled only by my wonderful family.

What is your favorite Bible verse (translation please)? Why?

2 Chronicles 20:17 says “You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not, and be not dismayed; tomorrow, go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” (Revised Standard Version)

I love this verse and lean on it often, because it’s God’s promise that no matter what I’m struggling with at the moment, He will use it (and me!) to make a better Christian of me.

How did you come up with the concept for Honor Redeemed?
 
After reading Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson, who trains Search and Rescue dogs and has, herself, walked into danger to save or find those who are lost or in trouble, I was inspired to tell the tale of these brave men and women, and their intelligent and courageous canine companions.

How did you get the insights to develop the story Honor Redeemed?

Researching SAR personnel taught me so many things about these hard-working, dedicated individuals. I was surprised to learn that most do this heroic work at their own expense. Training classes, equipment, transportation to and from rescue sites, etc., are very often paid for by the SAR members, themselves. Dedication like that deserves recognition and admiration, and Honor Redeemed, I hope, will bring some attention to the intricacies of their work.

How much of this story is based on 9/11?

In all of the First Responders series stories, 9/11 plays a key role in character development and motivation. The main characters in all of the stories were directly impacted by the terror attacks that forever changed our nation and its citizens. In Honor Redeemed, Matt was on site when the tragedy unfolded, and Honor lost her fiancé when he traveled from Baltimore to New York to search for survivors…and became a victim, himself.

Are you basing your characters on people you know?

All of the characters in the First Responders series are a mix of people I interviewed to learn more about the difficult and dangerous work performed by firefighters, EMTs, policemen, soldiers, etc. The emotional toll taken on these amazing men and women is also built into every character. So yes, I’d say that all of the characters are based on people I know…and have come to admire.

Do you have a favorite character in Honor Redeemed? Why?

Gosh. I can’t say that I do have a favorite character! I like and respect elements of each person who brings this story to life…and there are aspects to their personalities that, like every one of us, aren’t always admirable.

 

How much research did Honor Redeemed take?
 
Lots! I spent countless hours in fire stations, police stations, hospital ERs and OR waiting rooms, talking with the men and women who have dedicated their lives to ensuring our safety and well being. There’s a fat accordion file in my office, filled with tape recorded interviews, photographs, and notes, scribbled as these amazing people shared stories about what they do for a living…and why they do it.

How involved are you with the SAR?
 
Much as I’d like to participate in SAR missions, I don’t have the training! Tag-alongs like myself would slow the trained personnel down. Not a good idea when they’re searching for a lost or missing child, or someone buried amid smoldering debris, or any one of a hundred scenarios I could name. And let’s face it: Not everyone is cut out for this rugged, rough-on-the-nerves life!

Why did you include dogs in your story?

If you’re an avid animal lover (you should see my collection of “wolf stuff”!) like I am, it’s hard not to go a little nuts over these amazing dogs. We all think our dogs are the smartest, sweetest, best-behaved canines around. But spend a couple of hours with SAR dogs and you’ll quickly realize just how different and truly special rescue dogs are. I wanted to shine a light on them and their trainers, in part to help readers better understand how important the dogs are to every mission, and in part to give these fearless furry beings the credit they have so rightly earned.

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Honor Redeemed?

I guess I’d have to say that one of the most impressive facts I discovered, researching this novel, is that first responders and rescue dogs might look ”ordinary,” but they’re anything but.
 
How many books will be in the First Responders Series?

At this point, there are three novels in the series. I have ideas for more, so here’s hoping sales for the first three will inspire contracts for the rest!

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
Time is my worst enemy. Rather, the lack of it. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to write all the stories I’d like to tell. Not if I hope to balance my “other life” with my “work life!”

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Simply put: Reader letters! Every time a letter bounces into my email inbox or an envelope-stuffed package arrives from one of my publishers, I tear into it like a kid on Christmas morning. It’s so inspiring to hear people explain how the story reminded them of something in their own lives, or how a character is similar to them or someone they love. The research, interviews, plotting, and everything else that goes into the making of a novel could be grinding, joyless work, if not for the knowledge that my words are touching people in very real ways, right where they live.

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

I’m a member of about a dozen writers’ organizations (ACFW, RWA, to name just two), and recommend them highly to anyone embarking on a writing career. The input of peers is invaluable, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find nicer, more helpful people in any industry!

What new projects are on the horizon?

I’m busy developing two new series—one historical, one contemporary—while plotting one of the launch novels in Abingdon’s “Quilts of Love” series, titled For Love of Eli.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Honor Redeemed?

Prior to 9/11, like most folks, I sort of took for granted that when I heard a siren, or dialed 9-1-1, help was on the way. On that fateful day, while watching them walk into the smoke and fire—literally—my attitude changed, forever. If nothing else, I hope readers will get a new appreciation of first responders of every variety—on two legs and four, and maybe even put that gratitude into action by saying “Thank you!” or shaking the hand (or paw <G>) of one of those brave souls next time one crosses their paths!

What were your favorite books as a child?

I’ve always been a fan of London, Steinbeck, Shakespeare, even Poe! Many was the night when my mom had to scold me for tucking a flashlight under my covers so that I could read one of their amazing stories!

What is your greatest achievement?

No question about it: Having the good sense to listen to God when He introduced me to the man who became my husband and best friend.

What do you do to get away from it all?

My husband and I have a humble little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains. The quiet, the clear skies and mountain vistas, and daily visits from furry and winged creatures (even the 500 pound black bears!) inspired its name, “Gottaway.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Only that I’m praying for success with this series, more than any other I’ve written, because I’m dedicating a generous portion of my proceeds to Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Soldiers Angels, Wounded Warriors, NY Fire Dept., and Tuesday’s Children.

 


 

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From Ashes to Honor, First Responders Series #1
From Ashes to Honor, First Responders Series #1
Loree Lough
CBD Price: $11.99


 
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