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Check Out Lori Hayes’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lori Hayes. 

Hi Lori, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always loved to read. When I was in the eighth grade, my English teacher asked me to write a short story. The winner had an opportunity to be listed in Readers Digest. I had no idea what a great opportunity this was, and no one explained to me why I should care. I had no idea I was a writer at heart. I rushed the ending, and she mentioned I would have won and moved to the next level of competition if I hadn’t blotched the story. I didn’t care really, not realizing I had any talent. When I entered college, I always thought essays were an easy A and that everyone felt the same way. Years later I learned that wasn’t true. My professor asked if he could use my essay as an example for other students, and perplexed, I shrugged. Sure, whatever. 

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized I had an interest in writing. My mom always talked about writing her memoir. Books and talking about writing became commonplace, and when my kids took a nap, I began to read books again. I got frustrated by the ending of a book–ironic, huh–and I said to myself that I wanted to write better than that. I had no idea of the can of worms I opened. Writing wasn’t as easy as I thought. To this day, I still study books on writing or books themselves. 

I now have eight books published along with a small handful of others. I came close to securing a contract with Random House at the time, but for a few reasons that didn’t work out. I decided to self-publish six of them, and my last two a traditional publisher picked up. In January, my newest manuscript goes out on submission with my agent at the helm, and I’m almost finished with the first draft of a new story. 

I learned in the process of writing that in order to make it in the publishing business, I needed to step up my game and follow my dreams. I write daily and keep my eye trained on my goals. Gone are the days I didn’t care about my stories or the endings. I care more than I can explain. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The struggles are real. There are a few highs, but mostly rejection after rejection. I believe that if you want something bad enough, do the work and trust that what is meant for you won’t pass you by. Whenever I received a rejection from an agent or a publisher, a mild depression or frustration set in. Finally, I learned to give myself a day to grieve, and then I picked myself up and moved on. When the good author moments started happening more often, I allowed myself to relish in the good feelings. I’ve gotten better about accepting rejection and realize now that the statement No Thanks isn’t about me, it’s just part of the process. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I love to write friendship stories with complicated family dynamics and feral animals. I hear often that my setting becomes a character itself. My books are usually set in a small town in North Carolina, usually at the coast or on an island, and often have wild horses in them as well as feral dogs and cats. 

I want to give back to the writing community, and I host writing retreats/conferences with hands-on workshops to help other writers succeed at a faster and more direct pace. It’s through giving and teaching that my own writing grows. 

We’d love to hear about what you think about risk-taking.
Yes! I took a huge risk last January. I quit my full-time job to write. 

Beforehand, I decided to switch my mindset and to start thinking of my writing career as my real job, even though my paycheck didn’t reflect this thought. I was tired of being tired when I got home at night. I had dinner to cook, kids to feed, a house to clean. My writing had come last until now. A simple change in mindset made all the difference. I started to get up an hour early to write before work, I wrote on my lunch hour, and I wrote after the kids went to their rooms for the night. My situation began to change and new opportunities started to present themselves. Before long, I made the leap and quit the 9-5 job. I am busier now than I ever was when I worked full-time and wrote. I don’t know how I did it. I now have time to address the business side of writing, such as social media, interviews, teaching workshops, attending conferences, and to create my own writing conference. I am my own boss, can take off whenever I wish, travel to research a book, and most important, to spend time with my family. I still work daily on my own business, probably more hours than when I had the corporate job, but the difference is that it no longer feels like work. I am excited each day to sit at my laptop and to work for myself. Oh! And I have adopted my very own once-wild horse from the island I write about. Dreams do come true. 

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