Author Lora Moore completely ignored all the expert writers' advice to write about something familiar to her.
"I was always told to write about what I know," Moore says. "I want to write about what interests me. If I'm going to do hours of research, it has to be something new and exciting. It would be boring writing about something familiar to me."
Moore, who lives in rural Blue Earth, started writing with her sister, Julie Zuehlke, about 15 years ago.
"The foundation of our relationship growing up was always horses," Moore explains. "But, we would always tell stories to one another, which also made us very close."
But, before teaming up with her sister, Moore came out with her own book titled, "Our Family Song."
"Honestly, it wasn't very fun writing the book by myself," Moore says. "I also was not a fan of the traditional publishing house methods. I had no control and the process was very restrictive."
Moore went on a one year book tour, but, she had no say and was told where to go.
"The book tour was in 2003 and I basically visited every book store and Barnes and Noble in the Midwest," she explains.
Even though her experience with her first publisher wasn't ideal, Moore continued on to write four more books.
"Writing a novel is a challenge and such a rush," Moore says. "When it is finished, I'm completely over it and looking forward to the next idea. A writer is only as good as to what you are doing next."
For Moore's second book, she wanted to have a different mindset and work with her sister. The two practiced their writing skills and bounced ideas off of each other.
"We got really good at telling stories," Moore says. "We always told each other that if we came up with something really good, we would self-publish and rely completely on ourselves."
In January of 2013, the sisters first co-authored book came out, titled "The Second Option."
"It was a blast because we were the ones in control," Moore explains. "We didn't do it to get famous or to get money, but wanted to prove to ourselves we could do it."
The novel is about a Marine sniper who gets captured by the enemy, is rescued, and introduced to his new life as an assassin for a top-secret counter-terrorism team known as Off Grid Operations.
"I really learned a lot about undercover agents and covert operations," Moore adds. "The research put into these books took a lot of time."
Moore's diligent researching even landed her a visit from the FBI.
"I've researched and Googled every word and phrase considered taboo by Homeland Security," she says. "I always joked that my name is red-flagged by the CIA and the FBI. I never knew I would actually be contacted about it."
The FBI agent who contacted Moore ended up becoming a reliable source and friend for her.
"She would tell me what was actually realistic and what wasn't so believable," she says. "So, she came in handy more than a few times in regards to some military lingo."
Moore and her sister recently released their sequel titled, "American Shadows," this past May.
The two sisters work as a team and both bring something to the table. For the most part, Moore does the actual typing and story construction. Her sister will think up of an idea, or conversation that helps the story along, type it up and email it to Moore.
"I will then immediately call her up, discuss, laugh and figure out how to weave both of our thoughts into the story line," Moore says. "Julie keeps me grounded and isn't afraid to be real with me."
The two novels are the first two in the series, which could possibly have up to four books, Moore says.
However, Moore's children (Jessie, 6, and Travis, 4) wanted something fun to read and a book they could understand, so Moore shifted her focus.
"I am definitely not a children's book writer," Moore explains. "But, I figured since the kids loved my drawings, why couldn't I make one."
So, Moore self-published two children's books titled, "Carousel Cowgirl" and "Carousel Cowboy."
"Jessie and Travis both picked out what pictures they wanted and what colors to use," she says. "But, my husband Dan felt left out, so I ended up drawing a photo of our entire family going to a fair on one of the pages."
For the context of the books, Moore asked what her kids would do if a carousel horse jumped off into an adventure.
"Jessie and Travis basically told me what to write about," Moore says. "It is a story I have told to them ever since they were little."
The process for the children's books was a lot quicker and Moore says it was very enjoyable because she was able to involve her family.
"Down the road, I can definitely see myself writing more children's books," she adds. "As the kids get older, it will be fun to work with them and maybe have them write their own book one day."
Moore loves to write and encourages more people to be published. She offered some advice to those looking to be an author of a book one day.
"I would say an idea is just an idea until you write it down," she says. "You have to start on page one and go from there. Finish the book and then think of the next step."