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Harlequin Authors Quote Katy Minister on Definition of Romance.

(Katy,Texas)  Best selling authors Loree Lough, and Cerella Sechrist write a monthly article for Harlequin Heart Warming’s official blog. On finding out that August was National Romance Awareness Month they decided for their newest article to dig into the question of what is romance ? When you’re a pair of authors for the world’s leading romance novel publishing company, where do you turn with such a question ?
One person Lough and Sechrist turned to was Katy, Texas minister Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield. Crutchfield is the same minister that Lough used as the basis for a character in her novels Guardians of the Heart and Healing of the Heart. This is not Crutchfield’s first time commenting on Romance and related subjects on the national stage either. Back in 1983 his poem Love Is was published in the anthology Hearts on Fire: A Treasury of Poems on Love. Two of his articles on SelfGrowth.Com are on relationships. Just last year CurvesConnect.Com the major dating site interviewed him on the topic of dating and politics.
Crutchfield defined romance for Harlequin Heart Warming as “Romance is the process of giving yourselves to each other, not in grand gestures but tiny pieces, not for brief spans of time, but for the long-term.” 
Crutchfield preaches weekly at the Spanish Meadows Nursing Home in Katy. His articles on Christian and other topics have been read all over the world !  He previously served as Chaplain of the Katy Fire and EMS Department. He is married, the father of two and grandfather of four.  He can be found online at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

BOOK REVIEW:The Firefighter’s Refrain

If I count correctly this is Loree’s 107th published book. Her books have sold a total of over 6 million copies. So as you can imagine there was great excitement as May 1st, and her newest effort for Harlequin grew near.

The book is described as follows,

He’s a man who wants it all…if only he could have it….

Dreams of stardom took musician and firefighter Sam Marshall far from his Colorado roots. Starting fresh in Nashville hasn’t been easy, especially after an injury on the job, but he’s working his way to the Grand Ole Opry one open mike at a time, teaching at the fire station to make ends meet. Yet Sam’s intentions are shaken when he meets the lovely owner of a local café. Suddenly, Sam’s dreams are filled with her. Too bad that as the daughter of country-music wannabes, Finn Leary’s been there, done that. She’ll never choose a musician. So how can Sam possibly get the girl and keep the guitar?“

Fans of Lough’s work will not be disappointed in this book. If this is the first of her books a reader has come across, I  doubt it will be their last. Lough is known for putting a lot of research into her books, and developing her characters. Sam and Finn are no exception. By the time you finish this book you won’t think of them and their supporting cast as fictional characters, but as friends.

It what has also become familiar to her readers Firefighter’s Refrain is far from predictable. The plot of the story is very full, and contains a great amount of detail. Whenever I read one of her books ( and I have read several others)  I invariably end up later at night than planned because I can’t help but read “just one more chapter.” Those who remember From Ashes to Honor, and the other two books of her First Responders Series, will definitely want to check out this book as well. Loree has a great love and respect for all first responders, and it shows in the stories she creates about them. She works to make them each a tribute to the real life heroes they are based on.

She is also familiar with the music side of this plot. Years ago, before becoming an author she was a touring musician. She sang and played the guitar. So her fellow musicians, and other music lovers are also likely to find an air of authenticity in this book that they don’t see in a lot of others. Here too she describes a world she knows well !

It takes a talented story teller to be able to fill 368 pages like this book does. However Lough fans have nothing to fear from her, or this book ! The Firefighters Refrain is now available from your favorite online or brick and mortar book merchant.

An Insider’s Look: Guardians of the Heart by Loree Lough

By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Editor FaithInspires.Org

I couldn’t really call this a review since having one of the characters in the book modeled after me leaves me naturally predisposed to liking the book. Fortunately though Loree’s talent leaves no need for any such predisposition. Even so I though potential readers might benefit from my unique perspective on the book, so here we go !

Guardians of the Heart is book #2 of the Secrets on Sterling Street Series. Even though it shares common characters, and plot elements with book one “Guardians” stands well on it own so you might as well dig in right here ! In it we meet Nell, who grew up watching every man she cared about killed in the gold mine her family operated outside Denver. She found herself years later needing a job, and a home. She answers a help wanted ad for a housekeeper from Asa, who is remodeling the Inn left to him by his grandparents. Asa was hauled off to the Civil War by his father. Still a boy he witnessed things that make the toughest grown man crumble. So by the time they meet, they have both spent years with buried secrets, that just don’t seem to stay buried. They grow closer as they work together, but Asa’ past in particular always seems to interrupt things.

Its hard to put down Loree Lough book without feeling like you have made some new friends. Her characters are that real, and Guardians of the Heart is no exception. Its spooky to read where my character is introduced. For someone who has never seen me preach live, she has me and my preaching style pegged pretty close !

“Guardians” is also a prime example of Loree’s talent for imagery. With exceptional detail she involves all five senses in transporting the reader to 1880’s Denver. Having been on “the inside” of this and several of her books, I can tell you this talent is the result of unbelievable hard work. Loree understand the value of thorough research to great fiction. She spends many hours examining the sites, sounds, smells, culture etc. where each novel is set. Readers of “Guardians” will grow to appreciate this as they make their way through this story.  Rommance

As both a reader, and someone who had a tiny role in its creation I could not be happier with this book, and I have no doubt that large numbers of other readers will enjoy it every bit as I did.

Best Selling Author Turns FaithInspires.Org Founder into Storybook Character.

By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Editor FaithInspires.Org

Guardians of the Heart Cover

Best selling Christian Author Loree Lough celebrates the release of her latest book, “ Guardians of the Heart.” With this release Internationally known minister, and Founder of FaithInspires.Org makes his second appearance as a character in one of her novels. Previously he was the inspiration behind Bob Crutchfield a 911 dispatcher in the novel “ A Man of Honor.” In this latest novel he is a minister in 1880’s Denver. Crutchfield’s “The First Responders Prayer” was also featured in all three of Lough’s “First Responders Series” of novels.

Guardians of the Heart is described at and other places as follows,

“Nell Holstrom wanted no part of her grandfather’s barren gold mine that had taken the lives of her mother, father, and younger brother; even if there may still be hidden wealth inside. Instead, she went to Denver and took a job as housekeeper at the old Stone Hill Inn. Asa Stone was barely more than a boy when his father dragged him and his brothers to fight with Colonel John Chivington. But Asa refused to participate in the raid on the peaceful Cheyenne and Arapahoe; and when the smoke cleared, his father and brother lay among the slaughtered. Besieged by guilt, Asa wandered the West for years before returning to Denver to rebuild the old inn he’d inherited. Together, Nell and Asa work hard to restore Stone Hill. But when disaster hits the inn, Asa retreats into despair and Nell is forced to return to her family’s mine. Asa faces the hard fact: He’ll never be the man Nell deserves. Can he overcome the dark secrets of his past? And will Nell still love him when she learns the truth?”

Rachel Muller herself the best selling author of Letters From Grace, had this to say about Guardians of the heart, “ Engaging and suspenseful, with an unforgettable cast of characters and a plot that keeps pages turning, Loree Lough’s latest novel, Guardians of the heart is a masterful, collaboration of history, romance, redemption, and forgiveness. A must-read for every historical romance fan !”

Crutchfield is Pastor of Compassion Church of Katy. He is also Founder and Editor of Faith That Inspires Action also known as FaithInspires.Org. Faith Inspires is a Christian News and Information blog reaching about 1,500 visitors per day, from as many as 15 countries. He is a former Chaplain of the Katy Fire and EMS Department. He is also the Chaplain General of the Order of St. Isidore of Seville, making him that groups third highest ranking member.

Loree Lough is a former professional musician turned writer. She is the author of over 105 published novels many for major publishers. Her books have sold a total of over 5 million copies. She has taught for Writer’s Digest Schools and at writer’s conferences in many parts of the country.

Talking about the release of the book Crutchfield said, “ Loree is a great talent, and a pleasure to work with. The publicity our ministry will get from this will expose us to people we would never otherwise reach. For an author of Loree’s caliber to include small fragments of my work in her own is an honor that blesses me a great deal.”

Guardians of the Heart is available now at, and other leading online and brick and mortar booksellers.

Conversations with FaithInspires: Best Selling Author Loree Lough

Author Loree Lough

I first met Loree when she was doing research for her 2011 novel From Ashes To Honor. She is an incredible talent devoted to using her gift to giving faith compatible entertainment. She has published 100 novels working with some of the top fiction publishers in the business. I interviewed her so that our readers here could get to know her just a little bit better.


Before you became a writer, you toured as a musician. Can you tell us a little about that ?
First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me here!I started out in a little pub called The Rocking Horse Inn, in a suburb of Chicago, where my dad arranged to have me sing one of the many songs I’d written with a friend of his, Bobby Pierce. Somehow, although my guitar wasn’t in tune with the piano, Bobby’s band managed to follow along with me. The guys in the band also asked if I knew any other Country songs. I did, I sang, and they played and harmonized. The audience liked it so well, they invited me back. Then my dad got the wild idea that, with an agent, I could perform in places other than Chicago. I auditioned for a guy (whose name I can’t recall!) at Artists Corporation of America, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He liked my style, booked me in a few small pubs nearby, and when the feedback from my bosses was positive, he found me work all across the U.S., where I sat in “the piano lady’s” spot in hotel lounges — just my Yamaha guitar and me — crooning whatever tunes the patrons requested. And the rest, as they say, was history.
How did you come to be a writer ?
My husband’s job took the family to Richmond, Virginia, where I answered a NEEDED: NEIGHBORHOOD CORRESPONDENT ad in the local paper. After 4 or 5 of those newsy articles came out, the editor asked me to write a story about the area’s EMT services (so my involvement with first responders goes WAY back!). She liked the feature, assigned more stories, and soon, editors from other newspapers and regional magazines were calling with story assignments. When we were transferred back to Baltimore 2 years later, I had a “clip book” filled with nearly 300 published articles, which I showed to editors here, and soon, they, too were giving me assignments. At last count, I had more than 2,500 articles in print (more, if I count those “ghosted” for professionals in techincal and trade publications).
What was your first big break, and how did it come about ?
As my “clip book” continued to grow, I noticed a disturbing trend: Editors, making changes to salient facts in the stories to appease advertisers. One night over supper, I said to my husband “If I’m gonna write fiction, I might as well try my hand at a novel!” I signed up for some fiction-writing classes at the community college, read every how-to-write-a-novel book I could get my hands on, and joined local and regional writers groups. And then I sat down to “try my hand” at writing a novel. I submitted POCKETFUL OF LOVE in November of ’93, and it was released in August of ’94. Twenty years later, my 100th book, SAVING ALYSSA, was released.
After over 100 published novels how do you keep the fresh ideas flowing ?
Ideas are like air…they’re everywhere! At the movies, in church, browsing the aisles at Wal-Mart, watching TV. When something (it rarely matters what) piques my curiosity, I play the “What if…?” game. Example: Local TV news covered a story, days before Halloween, about some teen boys, pulling a harmless prank. They made a dummy of old clothes, old shoes, and an old hat, and gave it a pumpkin head. Then they tossed it onto the railroad tracks. You can imagine the surprise of the engineer, who called authorities…who started an hours-long search for “…the vagrant that had stumbled in front of a moving train.” Search dogs joined search and rescue personnel, helicopters flew overhead, only to discover a newspaper-stuffed “man” wearing holey clothes and sole-less boots. So I asked myself “What if those boys caused more trouble than a couple hundred accumulated manhours and thousands of dollars in rescue equipment? What if they scared that poor engineer so badly, he suffered a heart attack? And what if, after hearing on the news how their little prank went wrong, it changed the course of their lives?”The result was “The Turning Points” series for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. Each novel began with the building and placement of the dummy, as told from a different boy’s point of view. The stories pick up years later, and feature boys-turned-men: A cardiologist, a cop, a lawyer, a firefighter. Yep. All that from one 2-minute segment on the local news!
What does your Christian faith mean to your writing ?
It’s such a part of who and what I am that it naturally finds its way into everything I write. It’s what keeps me going when times get tough (and they get tough often in this wacky business!). It’s what motivates me to push onward when I’m tired from back-to-back all-nighters, trying to meet deadlines. It’s what helps me devise stories around everyday occurrences, and highlight character traits that mirror our own. I guess I could have saved you a lot of time by saying “My faith is everything!” LOL
How many hours a day do you write ?
Most days, I put in 8 solid hours of writing time. That does NOT include research about the era and area where a story is set, and finding beautiful one-of-a-kind prayers for first responders, written by talented, spirit-filled pastors like my pal, Reverend Robert Crutchfield. It also includes interviews with people working at the jobs/careers I’ve given my hero/herone. Everything from the weather to holidays, from clothing to modes of travel, from words used during that time period to books and newspapers of the day. And it doesn’t include time spent staying in touch with readers and fellow writers on social networking sites.
You write sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair, how does this affect your writing ?
I hate to sound cliche, but the exercise ball lends balance to my writing! LOL Seriously? I sit here for so many hours in a row that good posture is critical. Before The Ball, all this sitting gave me a stiff neck, backaches, wrist and leg cramps. This new one is weighted with sand, so it doesn’t try to escape when I stand up! LOL
What one tip do you have for somebody who is looking to improve their writing skills ?
I urge them to sign up for classes, workshops, seminars. Read every how-to-write book they can get their hands on. Join writers groups in the area, and attend conferences whenever possible. Conferences are fantastic places to network! Not only will hopeful writers meet others facing the same struggles, they’ll pick up tips to avoid some of the pitfalls. They’re also great places to meet, face to face, with editors and agents, and (God willing!) open the door that will shorten the proposal process.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current work in progress ?
ONCE A MARINE is the first novel in the “Those Marshall Boys” series (Harlequin Heartwarming). A contemporary novel set in the Denver/Vail area of Colorado, it features Zach Marshall, a former Marine who, after his sister is attacked, puts his self-defense skills to use by opening a studio where he teaches others how to protect themselves from similar attacks. There, he meets Summer Lane, whose attack left her too afraid to leave her house for nearly two years. ONCE A MARINE is due for release in January.
Also releasing in January, CURRENCY OF THE HEART, the first in my “Secrets on Sterling Street” series for Whitaker House. Set in Denver in the 1880s, it’s the story of two strong, stubborn people who are more interested in protecting the secrets of their past than in assuring a happy, stable future…alone or together.
Thank you so much, Robert, for introducing me to your friends. I’m honored, and hope everyone will feel free to contact me on Facebook or Twitter, where I’m happy to answer more questions about their quest for publication, or these stories!
Secrets on Sterling Street (Whitaker House historical series)
Those Marshall Boys (Harlequin Heartwarming contemporary series)
A Child to Love (Heartwarming contemporary series)
For Love of Eli (Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series)
A Man of Honor (Abingdon’s First Responders series)
Lone Star Legends (Whitaker historical series)Join me at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ &!