About Lori Soard
I was raised as an only child. My parents loved me, but they didn’t spoil me. They taught me from a young age about the importance of God, how to be honest and that hard work would get you farther than just about anything else. I only remember my father spanking me twice, once when I put my hands over my ears and told him I wasn’t going to listen to him. Instead, I got a “talking to” when I misbehaved. Trust me that I would rather have had the spanking. It would have been less painful than knowing my dad was disappointed in me.
From the time I was a baby, my parents read me stories. Books were a treat and my mother took me to the library often as a young child. My dad would read me words from Reader’s Digest and would make up games to help me remember the meaning. He would make up adventurous stories full of fantastic feats and fun characters and tell them to me at bedtime. I believe that God gives us the people in our lives that we need to mold us into who we are to become. Yes, both the good and the bad. These early stories served as a springboard to my life as a writer.
My mother hailed from the beautiful state of West Virginia. She was smack in the middle of 10 kids – 5 boys and 5 girls. We would visit her family often and the stories always flowed well into the night. Tales about crazy people that had lived in the area, great romances such as that of my great-great grandfather and grandmother and jokes and laughter. This rich Appalachian oral storytelling tradition also built me into the writer that I am today.
As an only child, I spent a lot of time in a daydream, make believe world filled with magic. I loved my Barbie dolls and would create full soap operas for them that rivaled any Aaron Spelling creation. Barbie dated, got married, had children and broke up with Ken all in the span of a day. My mother encouraged my creativity. She showed me how to take a tissue box and make up a bed for Barbie by tucking a washcloth around it. She allowed me to pull every encyclopedia we owned onto the floor and use them for walls in a giant Barbie house. She told me to look around and see what I could use as furniture for my dolls. She never yelled at me for making a mess or forced me to pick up my bedroom just when I’d finished creating my masterpiece. This allowed me to become highly creative.
Most kids will tell you that they loved Kindergarten. I hated it. My teacher, Mrs. Deerman, was old, stinky and cruel. And yes, I still believe that all these years later. Where my mother had encouraged my creativity, Mrs. Deerman’s desire was to squelch it out of me. When my best friend and I argued over the last slat for the Lincoln Log cabin roof, Mrs. Deerman took that slat and wacked us both on top of the heads with it. If I colored the sky red, she told me it was wrong. I’ve seen reddish skies at sunset, haven’t you? She was mean and I had begun to hate school already.
Then, I was put in Mrs. Young’s class. Mrs. Young was everything that Mrs. Deerman was not. Mrs. Young actually liked children and Mrs. Young taught me to read. She encouraged me to tackle books that were difficult and when I wrote my first story ever, she praised me lavishly and insisted I read it to the class because it was wonderful. I’m sure it wasn’t at seven-years-old, but she made me feel as though it was the best thing anyone had ever written. She gave me prizes for finishing difficult books and encouraged me and loved me. I think we need more teachers in the world like Mrs. Young, don’t you? Luckily, the next school year was similar and I was blessed with many wonderful teachers over the years, and a couple who weren’t so wonderful but who made me stronger and taught me how to stand up for myself.
When I was young, my mom and dad owned bait and tackle shops. I think my parents bought the first one when I was about three. My Aunt Jewel would come get me and take me shopping or to her house as a break from being at the bait shop all the time. Aunt Jewel knew what little girls loved. She was the aunt who bought me my days of the week underwear, dabbed perfume on me and told me I could try her makeup. She was wonderful to me and I love her dearly. She has now and will always have a very special place in my heart. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family.
I always spent a lot of time with my aunt growing up, right up until I hit those teen years where we all grow a little selfish and forget those who’ve invested so much in us. I spent weekends with her quite often. She lived in this big old house and her bedroom had once been the front parlor. On winter weekends, we would turn on the heating blanket to stay warm and she would start a fire in her fireplace. We would both read until we fell asleep. My aunt was always reading romance novels. She had stacks and stacks and stacks of them. I asked her if I could read one when I was about nine. She gave me a sweet romance to read and I was completely hooked.
In those early years, she guided me to sweet tales, gothic romances and sometimes suspense. Soon, I was devouring an average of two short romances every day and sometimes more. As I got older and wanted steamier novels (nothing compared to today’s steam, though, they always faded to black before things got too serious), she would smuggle them to me in grocery bags. She’d show up with a bag full of books for me, the steamy ones tucked away on the bottom. To this day, I love nothing more than a good romance story. Romantic comedy is my favorite genre of movie and I’m hooked on Nicholas Sparks’ writing, although I wish he’d quit killing off so many of his characters at the end. The Last Song and The Notebook are my two favorite books by him.
It’s probably little surprise that my first book and many of my books are romances.
If my life sounds idyllic to you, trust me it wasn’t. There were a few things here and there that were quite hurtful in their own way. I have an older half-sister whom I barely got to see once she got busy with friends and school. On top of that, my great-aunt and my great-grandmother favored her. For years, I resented her for this, until I realized that it wasn’t her fault anymore than it was mine. My great-aunt was quite cruel to me over it, telling me not to touch her Barbies with my grimy hands (I wasn’t grimy at the time) and making other comments. However, like all things in my life, it made me who I am. I am very careful not to favor one child over the other within our families and acquaintances as I know how hurtful that is.
Then, there was school. In third grade, my dad moved me to a private school. In retrospect, I am glad he did. I look at the friends I had where I was and saw where they ended up by our high school years. It wasn’t pretty. Moving me likely saved me. The new school wasn’t easy. There are some places where kids seem to be kind for the most part. This wasn’t one of those places. For years I tolerated cruel comments about being fat and an ugly dog. Since I was 5′ 6″ and only weighed 120 pounds in 7th grade, I am fairly certain I wasn’t fat. I also endured someone I thought was my friend getting mad at me over stupid stuff, getting the rest of the girls to be mad at me and no one talking to me for weeks on end. That wasn’t so bad, actually. I was used to being alone and I had my imagination and outside friends. It was the comments that always hurt. Once, some of the boys circled me on the playground as I cried after a particularly cruel comment and sang “Don’t Cry Out Loud” to me. At that moment, I vowed that someone who was mean to me would NEVER see me cry again. That one took a few years, more on that later.
I do believe there is a purpose for everything. Slowly, painfully, a hurt at a time, I grew stronger. I learned to believe in myself when no one else did. I learned that I could make other friends, and I did. I learned that people who act that way must feel pretty bad about themselves. I learned to lean on God. I prayed for him to take me out of there, to make them like me or to change them. He didn’t do any of those things, but he did bring me through it. He made me strong and that is something that has served me so well throughout my life. Looking back on it now, I wouldn’t change a second of it. Amazingly, I don’t even think those who were so cruel remember being that way to me. I’ve forgiven them. We did have some good times. In the end, they did me a favor, so I’m over it. God loves them and so do I.
This actually isn’t something I usually share, but maybe it will help a child going through this or someone struggling to get past old hurts. I’ve been there. I know it’s hard. You are stronger than you think!
If third through eighth grade was rough, you can probably imagine how I longed for ninth grade. My dad and I chose this private Christian school with a great reputation. It took me about two weeks to realize I did not belong there. They did not have a prom, but a banquet (I love to dance). Most of the girls wore skirts, long hair and were just plain weird. I once slammed my finger in my locker door. I said, “Crap.” Okay, the word is not ladylike and it isn’t very nice, but it is hardly the worst word ever. The other girls gasped, shook their heads in disbelief and told me that wasn’t right. They were weird, Stepford students. I had one really good friend named Kathy, who loathed the school almost as much as I did.
No one was mean to me. I just hated it there. My creative spirit was stifled horribly. The only highlight was a wonderful choir teacher and program. It took me exactly six months to convince my dad to let me go to public school. For everything I hated about that school, I loved that many things about the new school. I made tons of friends, went to every activity and found the best friend of my heart, Melissa. She and I are friends to this day, although we don’t get to see each other as much as I’d like. She is true blue, will keep my secrets forever and will help me prank anyone at any time. Not that we would have ever done anything like that, of course. (cough, cough!)
After a year or so, I also met my high school sweetheart, Scott. Have you ever met someone and taken an instant dislike to them for no good reason? That’s how I felt about Scott. It so wasn’t love at first sight. I loathed him when I first met him. My first exposure was during band camp. I was a flag twirler and I have no idea why he was there. I don’t even think he was in band. Melissa and I were sitting in my little Dodge Colt. He ran over to my open window (no air conditioning) and said, “Pop your hood.”
I looked at Melissa. Was this guy serious? “Excuse me?” I said.
“Pop the hood of your car,” he insisted. I don’t know why, but I did. He stuck his head under my hood for a minute, shut the hood, waved at me and yelled a thanks over his shoulder. Melissa and I looked at each other. “Weirdo,” we said and we both laughed.
Soon, he was eating lunch with us. He was loud, obnoxious, always had a joke and messed up the dynamic of our little lunch group. In fact, I started eating lunch with some other friends of mine for a while.
Then, a mutual friend suggested our group go out to the mall and to eat, so I could get to know Scott better. “He’s a good guy,” I was told. One by one those friends all backed out on me until it was just me and Scott. Amazingly, we had a wonderful time and I realized he was a lot of fun. We were friends for a while, started dating, fought our way through high school and after and actually wound up married for the last couple of decades.
I think I always had been a writer. I just didn’t know it. I tried everything to find my niche. I was working on a romance novel. It was my “hobby”. It never occurred to me that you could make money writing. I got married at 20, which was so young, and meant I was still finishing college. I tried a little of everything while finishing school. I sold Avon, Jafra and Mary Kay. I made sweatshirts and resold them in a booth in a little flea market. I had garage sales. I even tried babysitting for a while. Finally, I took some outside jobs substitute teaching and such. It wasn’t until near the end of my teaching degree that I took a journalism course as an elective. I loved the professor and the course. He encouraged us to look at the world around us for a story and submit the finished piece to a local newspaper. I did. The paper published it, put it on the front page and paid me a whopping $25.
$25! You have no idea how thrilled I was over that money. It was a light bulb moment for me. I suddenly realized writing can equal income. It would still be a few years before I took the plunge and stayed home full-time to write, but I knew what I was working toward.
My family and friends thought I was crazy. “Is this another one of those Jafra things?” my husband asked. Honestly, I really didn’t get any support in the early days for my dream of being a writer. By that point I had tried so many things that no one took me seriously. After talking to hundreds of writers over the years, this is a common pattern. It is almost as though we must absorb life before writing about it. One person supported me and encouraged me from day one and that was my father-in-law. He would call me almost daily and ask me how my writing was going. He loaned me a word processor to type my book. I didn’t yet have a computer as a very poor newlywed and student. He asked me about my characters, my plot, who I would send the book to. He took an honest and sincere interest and he often told me that he knew I would make it big one day as a writer. It wasn’t until he passed away that I realized how I’d come to expect those regular phone calls to check on me, the girls (after I’d had children) and to always ask how my writing was going.
Today, I no longer doubt that writing is my purpose in life. I sometimes wish the income was a little steadier and you knew how much was coming in when, but I rarely doubt that this is what I’m meant to do.
Growing up, I knew there was God and Jesus and I had a relationship. I can remember praying as a very small child. I remember laying in a crib and talking to God, and my mom tells me I was in my crib until about two or two and a half. I had a crib where you could take the front off and turn it into a sort of toddler bed. Every night, my parents said prayers with me. We didn’t go to church a lot when I was little. We went occasionally, and always on Easter and Christmas. My grandmother took me and my Aunt Dean took me occasionally. My parents did talk to me about God and Jesus. They integrated it into life.
As He always does, God brought people into my life that would pull me closer to him. When I was 13, my cousin and his wife started going to a big church in Indianapolis called Baptist Temple. Although I’d always known Him, I felt called and gave my life over to him. I was baptized. They quit going to church and so did I.
The year I turned 16, there was a speaker at our high school who had been in Vietnam. He invited us to come to a church and hear him talk that night. I gave my life to God again and promptly never stepped foot back in the church. Looking back on it, I really wish I could get those years back. I would love to have been involved in a youth group and been a real Jesus freak. I wish I could say I didn’t make mistakes and that I walked close to God, but I didn’t. I was pretty much a heathen.
When I started dating Scott, I gained his grandmother. Mamaw was wonderful. She had raised him when he was little and she loved Jesus with everything in her. She was full-on Pentecostal and wasn’t making any apologies for it. Scott would work on things for her around the house, and I would talk to her about the Bible and deep issues. I began to learn more and more about God.
When we had children, I started taking the girls to church. We weren’t really going as a family and I wasn’t in the right church to learn about God, but I was going, trying to serve and loving Him.
It is truly amazing how God works. I grew up on the far east side of Indianapolis. We moved to Greenfield (town east of Indy) when I got married. I planned to have my children there, live my life there, die and be buried in Greenfield. It is hard to describe the love affair I had with this town I’d first met as a 16-year-old girl. There were times when I would drive out to Greenfield as a teen and drive up and down the streets, seeking the house I’d want to live in one day. I can honestly say that I loved every aspect of living there and I loved every tradition, friend and even the schools. It is a great place to live and raise a family and there are times when I almost ache to be back there. God had other plans…
My husband was working at Ford in Indy. The plant was likely to close in a few years and he was offered an opportunity to turn in for a transfer. It was unlikely he’d get it. We discussed it and decided to put in for it. I really didn’t think it would happen. We didn’t hear anything for a good long while and then suddenly got notice that they wanted us to move in two weeks. Scott was being transferred to the Louisville plant.
Like the mature adult that I was, I threw a royal fit. I wasn’t moving. I wasn’t leaving my beloved house and I wasn’t uprooting my children from a school they loved. They had friends from preschool there! I most definitely was not leaving the love of my life – Greenfield.
After a good talking to from my dad (yes, he still does this sometimes), I realized that we had no choice but to move. My husband would be out of a job within a few short years and then I’d likely lose my beloved house anyway. We took the transfer and my husband moved down to Louisville while I stayed back and sold the house. I really wasn’t trying very hard to sell it. It sold anyway.
This is where God’s plan really went into action. We were going to build a house in southern Indiana. We had the land and the builder, but we’d need to rent an apartment for six to eight months. We had that lined up too, except that it fell through at the last possible moment. My husband called our builder and asked if he knew of anyplace else. It wasn’t easy to find a place for us. We had a gazillion pets and only needed a very short lease. Our builder, amazingly (yes, God’s hand was all over it) had an apartment that had JUST opened up. We’d take it. We didn’t care. There aren’t many apartments in this area and he’d let us bring our pets and didn’t even want a bigger deposit.
God moved us across the street from a Baptist preacher and his wife. They reached out to us, befriended us, folded us into a church family and changed our lives. God put them in the right place at the right time to transform us. God began to work on me on so many levels and to grow me very rapidly for service in his kingdom.
The trials I’ve faced the last several years have only matured me further. You wouldn’t believe the story, even if I was able to actually post it publicly. Some of my prayer warrior friends know the tale. I so appreciate your prayers for protection for the Soard household. My entire family was under attack at one point. The majority of the attack was aimed at myself and my then 15-year-old daughter. My daughter is the one that showed me the power of faith. At one point, I wanted to leave our church to get away from the drama. I hate drama, don’t you? My daughter was sobbing in those broken hearted, breathless type sobs and I told her that I didn’t want to see her hurt anymore and we were going to walk away from the situation. Caitlin looked at me and said, “God brought me to this church and this is where God wants me. I won’t leave for anyone until He tells me to go. It doesn’t matter what they do. They don’t guide me, God does.”
Wow! She really taught me a lesson that day about standing firm on the promises of God.
I thought I was pretty strong, but I was still very soft-hearted. One of the attacks came from words spoken to me by someone I thought was a friend at the time and told me I wore my heart on my sleeve. This was not said in a loving way, trust me. It was the equivalent of calling someone satan and spewed of pure venom. Something in me changed through the trial. I very rarely cry anymore. I always hated that I cried so easily. It is hard to comfort someone who is hurting when you get down and wallow in it with them. I am stronger now and that is a good thing. I still care deeply, but I rarely cry the way I used to. God changes us into what we need to be to help others and to serve Him. He’s changed me and I’m better, but I still have a lot of work that needs to be done.
We recently started going to a larger church. I’m not sure what God’s plans are for me in the future, but I know He is preparing me for them now.
Lori appears in the book Net.People.