From the outside looking in, former beauty queen Loralee Montgomery has everything she ever dreamed of, a sprawling Texas ranch, two grown kids, and a wealthy husband. But when greed sinks its clutches deep into the soul of a man, there’s no telling what he might do to keep what is his, or take what isn’t. When love draws a woman out of herself into giving away her heart, there’s no telling what she might do if betrayed.
About this story…
On October 26, 2011, I wrote the first chapter of “Loralee” on my webpage, it was a Wednesday. I had no draft of the story, no outline, no idea where it was going. I hit the button to open a “new post,” and I started writing.
There were a few things that I wanted to accomplish, I was writing with a purpose. The first thing was that I thought it would be a cool idea to write maybe one chapter a week, or one every two weeks, or whenever, and post it like a serial novella, like something of a cliff-hanger or weekly series. It sounded like it would be a fun thing to do, a fun thing to write. The next thing was that I wanted to see if I could do it, if I could sit down and basically write a novel, one chapter at a time, on the spot, cold, just building on or entangling from whatever I’d written in the previous chapters.
Up to that point I’d been working on writing short stories of ever increasing length. I began this journey to novelist as a poetess. I’d been writing poems for more than thirty years and though I’d written short stories before, in addition to a few scattered longer pieces, I’d never completed work on a novel. The idea of writing longer fiction as a regular thing seemed daunting to say the least. My thinking was that it had taken me however long to work my way into writing longer poems, I’d approach writing stories in the same way, just keep writing until it got easier and I got better at it. At first, I wondered how I’d ever write something five thousand words long and have it be a complete story, not the beginning of something longer, or something that went nowhere. I began to educate myself.
When I first started writing stories again, I’d write these little self-encapsulated bits sometimes that I thought were cool, but I’d never heard the term “flash fiction” before. I didn’t know the difference lengthwise between novellas and novels, and so on, I’d never thought about it. I would give myself word count goals and parameters to stay within, to teach myself how to write longer fiction. “Loralee” was to be an exercise in writing a novel. It ended up being novella length but that taught me something too, about letting the story tell itself and be however long it is, or isn’t.
It felt risky to write the chapters one at a time and just put them out there, it felt bold, whether it was I don’t know, but it was something I felt the need to challenge myself with. There was also an aspect of feeling like I had to finish it, as though I’d put myself on the spot. At that time, I was also submitting short stories for publication to online zines and doing pretty well at least getting published.
I posted the second chapter within a day or two of the first. Subsequent chapters were written and published as follows;
Chapter Three, Houston, January 12, 2012
Chapter Four, Miss Tulsa Pie, January 27, 2012
Chapter Five, Tangled Web, March 28, 2012
Chapter Six, The Garden Suite, April 29, 2012
Chapter Seven, Buffalo Nickel, April 29, 2012
Chapter Eight, Luxury, May 20, 2012
Chapter Nine, Shake, Rattle, and Roll, June 28, 2012
Chapter Ten, Real Estate, June 30, 2012
Chapter Eleven, That Wears the Crown, September 6, 2012
Chapter Twelve, Cold, Hard, Cash, December 5, 2012
Chapter Thirteen, Fresh Molasses, December 26, 2012
It was, in so many ways, one of the easiest things that I’ve ever written, the story came to me naturally each time I sat down to add a chapter, though it was written during one of the most difficult times in my life. The words were there for me, this story was there for me, waiting for me to write the next chapter, waiting for me to disappear into.
During the summer of 2012, while working on “Loralee” here and there, writing and submitting short stories for publication, and continuing to write poetry, I wrote two other novels. By the time I wrote the last chapter of “Loralee”, there was no doubt in my mind that I could write long fiction.
When we publish online, or only in the digital world of cyberspace (is it even digital anymore? Has technology leapt again?) what becomes of our work thereafter? Where does it go? Perhaps that is fitting in some ways, everything is temporary, after all. Call me romantic, I like the idea of book rooms in thrift stores, dusty paperbacks, and someone making a discovery of some writer who is new to them. I wanted to see “Loralee” in print.
As for how you come up with a name like “Loralee”, you watch the film “The Outlaw Josey Whales” a few hundred times with your husband, or even if you’re not watching it, it’s just kind of on the television and parts of it seep into your subconscious.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this story, it will always be a sentimental favorite of mine. I wrote this one for me.
30 May, 2017