Wednesday, February 18, 2015

About the book:

Frankie Lou's back, and Poppy's madder than a wet hen.

Create a church choir filled with teenage misfits?

Over Poppy's dead body.

Minister's daughter Frankie Lou McMasters has come back to Ruby Springs, Texas with her daughter, Betsy, eleven years after running off to marry the town bad boy. Her mild notoriety as a bad girl is prime gossip for her childhood enemy, Poppy Fremont, now choir director of Faith Community Church--where Frankie Lou's daddy, now retired to Florida, was the preacher.

When Frankie Lou comes to the deacons with a request to add a youth choir of at-risk teens she's been coaching, Poppy throws a fit. A few hours later, Frankie Lou finds her dead in the baptistery pool. And Poppy's not playing possum.

Frankie Lou sets out to clear her name as the main suspect, and tries to locate the real killer. Could he be sexy Joe Camps, the father of one of her teen singers? In the meantime, her momma shows up from Florida to take charge of Frankie Lou's life. Bless her heart.

Lora Lee also writes as Loralee Lillibridge. Learn more about her contemporary romances and keep in tune with the Joyful Noise at

Interview with Lora Lee

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I started writing stories as a child but only became serious about writing novels when I was about fifty years old. I’d been reading romance novels my sister-in-law shared with me and that sparked the desire to try my hand at writing one. I started with a Western historical romance (manuscript still buried in my files) because I loved all the Westerns on television at that time.

How did you come up with the title Bringing in the Thieves?
The title came after I’d written some rough brainstorming passages and had decided what direction I wanted the story to go. Since my amateur sleuth/heroine is a preacher’s daughter, using a spin-off of gospel hymns seemed like an eye-catching hook to use. The Joyful Noise Mysteries will follow using similar titles.

How did you create the plot for this book?
Oh, the plot had a few changes along the way, but the basic idea had been brewing in my head for a very long time. I just needed a clearer road map.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
I am not an outliner, but I do write my first ideas in a spiral notebook using a  Bic MatiCgrip pencil with .007 black lead. That’s my seat-of-pants time when I listen for my characters to talk to me.

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
I begin with the main character and develop a character sketch. Usually that’s when the secondary characters make their appearances.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?
I love coming up with names and often try several before I find one that is a perfect fit for my character. In Bringing in the Thieves, Frankie Lou shouted her name to me right from the beginning. Sometimes I get lucky that way.
What would your main character say about you?
Oh, my goodness . . . she would probably say I’m a bit controlling and ask me to give her a little less stressful confrontations with the local police department.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I really don’t have a favorite scene, but the one I had the most fun writing was the accidental, sweet tea baptism Frankie Lou gave good ol’ Poppy Rose at the deacons’ meeting. I’d love to see that scene in the movies.

What song would you pick to go with your book?
I think "This Little Light of Mine" would be perfect, since Frankie Lou is trying to instill self-confidence in her group of teen singers and in doing that, she builds her own inner strength when she has to prove her innocence in a murder. 

Who are your favorite authors?
It depends on what genre I’m reading. I’m finding new favorites all the time. Keeping within the cozy mystery series, I love all Laura Childs’ series, also Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef series, Sheila Connolly’s (new to me) County Cork series, Peg Cochran’s Lucille mysteries, Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse mysteries . . .and I know there are many more.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.
Well, since I’m Texas born and raised, I’d probably fix you some chicken-fried steak with peppered country gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, sliced tomatoes, hot biscuits, and homemade peach cobbler. How does that sound? Would you come?

What time should I arrive?! That sounds wonderful. What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Well, I just finished Early Wake by Sheila Connolly and loved reading a cozy set in Ireland. So happy I found her series. For a change of pace, I’ve started reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and am totally involved in this emotional novel of WWII set in occupied France. I’ve also recently finished Eileen Dreyer’s Regency Twice Tempted, one of her Drake’s Rake’s novels with wonderfully unique characters in a story that pulls you in from the first page. So you can see read a wide range of genres.

How do you handle criticism of your work?
If it’s constructive criticism, I try to learn from it and use what works for my story. I hope I can handle negative criticism with grace. 

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?
Laughing about this! I have to say all of the above, although I do get up quite        early in order to have quiet time. Same goes for late at night, but I can’t do very early and very late in the same day. I need to sleep once in a while.

Where’s home for you?
West Michigan is home now, but I was born in Texas and lived there until I married and moved north.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?
Don’t know if it is writer’s block or just lack of concentration, but it has happened when real life gets complicated. That’s when I lose my focus on my writing project. It does help to acknowledge the problem and set it aside until real life calms down.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Spend time with my family. I have four adult children, nine grandchildren and five (soon to be seven) great-grandchildren. Life is good!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would love to have a home in Ireland for part of the year and a warm, sunny beach home where my family could visit the rest of the year.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying.)

What are you working on now?

Book #2 of the Joyful Noise Mysteries is underway, though not as fast as I’d like. I’m not the fastest writer in the crowd, but I have a wonderfully patient editor and publisher. 

About the author:

You can't be a preacher's kid and raise a little hob without some serious repercussions. Yes, ma'am, that's the gospel truth. Lora Lee's Joyful Noise mystery series for Bell Bridge Books, sheds a little light on just how serious those consequences can be when Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters returns to her hometown of Ruby Springs, Texas after ten years in hopes of putting some shine on her tarnished reputation, but finds herself in the middle of murder and mayhem instead.

Though author Lora Lee insists the series isn't about her in any way, shape or form, she does admit to being a real-life P.K. (that's preacher's kid, in case you didn't know.) She was born in Texas and her Southern blood runs deep. Her daddy told her any place below the Mason-Dixon line was part of the South, including the Lone Star State.

Since living in West Michigan most of her married life, she's lost some of her Texas twang, but once in awhile, a might could and a y'all or two slips into her conversation with her critique partners. They love her, anyway. So does her husband of fifty-plus years and their children. With a current family count of twenty-three, get-togethers often resemble an old time revival when they all gather for fun and food.

Lora Lee is a member of RWA, Mid-Michigan RWA, Sisters-in-Crime, and is currently published in contemporary romance. She is also a proud graduate of the Grand Rapids Citizens Police Academy.

When not writing or trying to keep up with her ever-growing family, she enjoys reading, music and travel.