Friday, January 12, 2018

January: The Month for Dreaming by Loree Lough and Cerella Sechrist

We hope you and yours enjoyed a happy, healthy holiday season.

So here we are…halfway through the first month of a brand new year. Hard to believe, isn’t it! One of the best things about January is that it gives us permission to start over, to begin anew, to work toward goals and do our best to make our dreams come true: Diet and exercise. Travel. Purging that overstuffed storage closet. Paging through seed catalogs while planning a spring garden. Start that novel you’ve been plotting…or finish the one you’ve been working on. For us, it’s brand new books, available during the opening months of 2018. Cerella’s next Heartwarming, The Way Back to Erin, hits the shelves on February 1st. (She’ll tell you all about it during next month’s blog.) And Loree’s latest, Bringing Rosie Home, hit the shelves on January 1st.



Based on a true story, Bringing Rosie Home (#2 in Loree’s “By Way of the Lighthouse” series) features a once-happy family, fractured when a kidnapper disappears with the VanMeters’ only child. What follows is a Q&A that will give you a glimpse into the story…

Q: Loree, can you tell us a little about the real couple who lived through this ordeal?

Loree: Sure, but to protect their privacy, I’ll call them the Jane, John, and Jimmy Smith.

When Jimmy was seven, Jane volunteered to chaperone a field trip to a famed historic site in a major US city. One of Jimmy’s classmates darted off, and in the seconds it took to retrieve the child, Jimmy was abducted. Jane’s guilt was compounded by John’s belief that she had “dropped the ball.” After a few years, their anger and bitterness became too much to bear: Jane packed up to leave…and John let her go. Many hard, lonely years passed without a word between them, until one day, John called to say Jimmy had been found…alive.

Q: Did either of them try counseling before separating?

Loree: Jane suggested it, and John pooh-poohed the idea. That, statistics tell us, is far more common than we’d like to believe. Those of us on the outside looking in presume that if such a tragedy happened in our lives, we’d grow closer to our spouse, not farther away. We’d have to, right, because without our greatest love to lean on…



Q: But that wasn’t the case for the Smiths?

Loree: Unfortunately, no. But, like the VanMeters, they did agree to reconcile, in the hope that it would help Jimmy’s adjustment.

Q: Did it help?

Loree: In the true story, as in the fictionalized version, resentment toward the mother was high. And was it any wonder? She’d been the adult in charge. The person the kid had always trusted…until another child’s welfare seemed more important.

Q: How difficult was it for the Smiths to ‘bury the hatchet,’ for Jimmy’s sake?

Loree: Jane tells me there were days when she thought John would never come around. He said hurtful things said when Jimmy wasn’t in earshot. His facial expressions said what words needn’t when the boy was nearby. John’s body language made it clear that he still held Jane responsible for what their boy had gone through. It’s no surprise to hear that she often wondered if the ‘getting together’ idea was doing more harm than good.

Q: Did she consider leaving again?

Loree: Many times. But in the fictional version of the story, Rena does not entertain such thoughts. Guilt over her part in the kidnapping played a role. That, and despite Grant’s simmering anger, she hopes the love they’d once shared—a love she still feels for him—will revive.

Q: And in the fictional version, how did you handle the little girl’s anger and resentment toward her mother?

Loree: Well, Jimmy was older when the kidnapping took place, and had additional years to love and depend on his mom. Rosie, at just three, didn’t have time to develop a bond with Rena that ran quite as deep. I spoke at length with several child psychiatrists to better understand the thoughts and feelings a child of that age might have…and express verbally, and behaviorally.

Q: Wow. Can readers actually hope for a happy ending with this one?

Loree: Of course they can! This is a Heartwarming novel, after all! This is a good time to point out that while Jimmy’s psychological issues were far more problematic and took a longer to overcome than Rosie’s, he is a well-adjusted man today, happily married with two kids…both boys, that Jane babysits on a regular basis. On a darker note, I must report that Jane and John never quite recovered from the damage inflicted when their only child was taken. Unfortunately, not all real-life stories have happy endings, do they.

Fortunately, there are a whole bunch of Heartwarming stories that readers can look forward to every month, stories that expose characters to some of the worst tragedies, misfortunes and heartbreaks that test characters’ mettle…but bring them to triumphant, happily-ever-after endings.

Next month, you’ll hear about another one of those stories when Cerella tells you all about The Way Back to Erin.

Until then, here’s hoping your 2018 dreams will come true…and you won’t write 2017 on any checks, like I did this morning!

Please leave a comment, below, and I’ll toss your name in my trusty winners hat for a chance to win 1.) a free copy of Bringing Rosie Home and a $15 Amazon e-gift card.



About Loree:

With nearly 7,000,000 books in circulation, best-selling author Loree Lough's titles have earned numerous 4- and 5-star reviews and industry awards. She splits her time between her home in Baltimore and a cabin in the Alleghenies (where she loves to show off her “Identify the Critter Tracks” skills). She has 115 books in print. Loree loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter, personally. Visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and www.loreelough.com


About Cerella:

 CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at www.cerellasechrist.com. A Song for Rory, Book #2 in her "A Findlay Roads Story" series, is her fourth Harlequin Heartwarming novel.

34 comments:

  1. I can't imagine anything harder on a marriage. I'm really looking forward to reading this story.

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    2. I know what you mean, Beth. My stepdaughter had some real-mom-related issues and, during her teens, ran away a few times. The hours when we didn't know where she was? Some of the most terrifying in our lives. Fortunately, she returned each time, unscathed. Not even close to the agony parents of kidnapped kids go through, but it was enough to give us a glimpse into their nightmare.

      Thanks for stopping by, Beth! Wishing you a beautiful weekend!

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  2. I think this story is going to be Loree's best yet. Such a heartwarming plot, made all the more intense by the fact that it's based on a true story!

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    1. Thanks, Cerella. And thanks for posting this for me. You're a true pal and I couldn't have chosen a better partner for this blog! I know readers will love your next HW release: The Way Back to Erin!

      Have a great weekend, my wonderful friend!

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  3. Truth is stranger than fiction right? Sounds like a great story. Congratulations and good luck to you both with your releases!

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    1. Yes, you hit the nail on that one, T.R.! Thanks for stopping by, and we hope your weekend will be wonderful!

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    2. Both of you can be found among my favorites on my book shelves, just love the way you two ladies write and will continue to follow you and watch for all that you put out. You both are such an inspiration and help to those that follow you. Thank you!

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  4. Your new book must have been emotionally tough to write, Loree and readers will be moved reading it, too. Congratulations to both of you on your releases - looking forward to the read!

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    1. Oh, you're so right, Janice! The research was tough, too...not only talking with the couple who really lived this nightmare, but interviewing child psychiatrists that described what families like this go through.

      We're so glad you stopped by, and wish you a wonderful weekend!

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  5. Great post to kick off the new year ladies. Best to you both.

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    1. And to you, too, Roz! Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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  6. Oh. wow. I can only imagine what heartbreak the couple went through and I'm so excited to see how the fictional couple handled it all. I think that trauma like that rips people apart more often than bringing them together, sad as it is.

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    1. According to the research I conducted for this book, you're right, LeAnne. Thanks so much for stopping by! We wish you a wonderful weekend!

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  7. What a wonderful book. I couldn't put it down. The story had so much emotion, from sadness to anger to hope to love. I loved Loree's attention to detail in regard to the emotions in all the characters. This was an outstanding book and I can't even imagine what the actual couple went through. I know first hand how emotionally draining it can be when something is going on with your child, but I can't even imagine the kidnapping. I think Loree did a fabulous job reiterating the pain and joy. Thank you for a great book. Like I said earlier, I couldn't put it down. Thank you for the story on the family, I am so glad that "Jimmy" is doing well. Sad about the marriage, but I can understand :9 Again, thank you

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    1. I agree with you...it's sad that the real-life couple's marriage ended, but what a joy to learn that their son is, for the most part, healed and whole. Thank you for your kind words about the story. Wishing you luck in the drawing and a wonderful weekend!

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  8. What a wonderful book. I couldn't put it down. The story had so much emotion, from sadness to anger to hope to love. I loved Loree's attention to detail in regard to the emotions in all the characters. This was an outstanding book and I can't even imagine what the actual couple went through. I know first hand how emotionally draining it can be when something is going on with your child, but I can't even imagine the kidnapping. I think Loree did a fabulous job reiterating the pain and joy. Thank you for a great book. Like I said earlier, I couldn't put it down. Thank you for the story on the family, I am so glad that "Jimmy" is doing well. Sad about the marriage, but I can understand :9 Again, thank you

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    1. I've had several requests for a sequel to this story! Not sure how interesting the VanMeters' happily-ever-after life would be, and I'd hate to subject them to yet another trauma! LOL

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  9. One second of looking away. That's all it takes and lives are changed forever. I look forward to reading this story.

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    1. You're so right, Patricia! That's how the real-life mom explained it to me: One blink, her son was there; next blink, he was gone. What a heartbreaking nightmare, right! Have a wonderful weekend, my Heartwarming sister!

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  10. Loree! What a fascinating and important story, both the real and fictional one. Here's a true and related one. In our rural community, a farming couple's three out of four children were suffocated to death after falling into a grain truck loaded with canola. It took minutes.The father, offloading nearby, wasn't there for them. The first thing his wife did was grab him by the collar and say, "It's not your fault." They have weathered their tragedy by all accounts. The power of forgiveness, eh?

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    1. Wow, M.K., that story made me gasp, out loud! I can't imagine living through something like that. God bless the wife, right! Wow. Now THERE's a story!

      Thanks for stopping by, and here's hoping your weekend is wonderful!

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  11. So, I trudged through the snow and ice from the ice storm last night to the mail box and my book is STILL not here. WAAAAAAAAAAAA. I've been looking forward to this one of yours, Loree for months. I am always amazed at the research you do for your books and I love that. I can't imagine how wrenching it had to be for YOU to sit with those parents, knowing that all the odds were against them to get back together. I know that when there is a death of a child that's really hard to keep the marriage together, I don't know that I could "go there" and write about a kidnapping. Thanks be to God that Jimmy is well-adjusted today. What a battle he had to endure.
    Congrats on the book, Loree. I see lots of stars in your future!!!

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    1. Thanks Catherine! Coming from someone with your talent and experience, that's high praise, indeed! Yes, it was tough, digging through the research to craft a story that would mirror the real-life one...and 'do justice' to the people who lived it. I lost a lot of sleep, thinking about all the kids that never came home...and the parents who mourn them, still... Sending you hugs and wishes for warm, snow-free days ahead!

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  12. Thanks for the post. It sounds wonderful--I can't wait to read it. What a story. I'm sorry to hear the ending wasn't an all happy one, but your story shows it's possible to get through something profound like a missing child. Thanks!

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    1. The strength of the human character is admirable, that's for sure. It sometimes amazes me, as I watch the news, to see how people endure Mother Nature-induced hardships with their chins up and their backs straight. That's the stuff heroes are made of. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead, my dear January-release partner!

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  13. What a story, and what courage it took to write it. I'm sorry it didn't work out happily for the real-life couple, but am glad for "Jimmy" and glad you undertook the project.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Liz. My main goal, writing this story, is to honor the struggles faced by "the Jones" family...and all other families like them. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

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  14. Wow, both the non-fiction and fiction stories sound intense. I remember when this book was talked about a while back. I kept thinking how interesting it sounded and how I wanted to read it. It made me think about the Adam Walsh story from long ago. Unfortunately, his parents’ marriage did not endure either, but I’m not sure if their child’s abduction was a factor. (Adam Walsh was not found alive though.)

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    1. You're so right, Laurie, the Walsh marriage was one of those that didn't survive the heartbreak of a child abduction. My heart aches for all the people in their shoes. Even with my vivid writer's imagination, I can't imagine living through such a nightmare. Since delving into the research for this book, I can tell you this: I understand the "Hold them close while you can" phrase a whole lot better...and take it a whole lot more seriously... Wishing you a happy week ahead!

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  15. .....I pressed publish too soon. Sorry.

    Congratulations on the new release!! And I hope you’re feeling well. ( :

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    1. I'm blessed to say...I'm doing well, Laurie! Thanks so much for asking. And thanks, too, for the congrats on the new release! Sending hugs your way!

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  16. Wow. I couldn't imagine going through something like that or the guilt I would feel if it happened on my watch.

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    1. I know just what you mean, WinterRose! The guilt and self-blame would likely have killed me long before it killed my marriage. Thanks for stopping by, and here's hoping the rest of your week is wonderful!

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