Loretta Sorensen

Loretta Sorensen

In the fall of 1986, with a lifelong love of writing and a “nose for news,” Loretta Sorensen began her writing career. With no newspaper writing experience, no college degree, and minimal experience taking photos, she contacted the Sioux City Journal.

“For years I dreamed of making a living by writing, so I mustered up all my nerve and called the Sioux City Journal Area Correspondent Editor, hoping he would give me a chance to write stories from this area for the Journal,” Sorensen said. “That editor never did tell me if he sensed the terror in my timid voice that day. But he gave me a writing assignment right then, and I continued writing for the Journal for about 20 years.”

For most of those years, Sorensen worked full time in addition to developing news articles. From February 2000 until August 2006, she worked at Mount Marty College as Public Relations Director.

“In that role, I began recognizing opportunities to write for a network of publications, including newsletters, which led me to resign my position and start building that network. It was a good thing I wasn’t familiar with the fluctuating nature of all publications and how quickly a freelance writer could be left out in the cold,” she said.

For the next three years, Sorensen struggled, navigating the unknowns of freelance writing. Which editor to contact? Will they need my writing skills?

“If you’re familiar with the writing world, you’ve probably heard, ‘Write what you know.’ Thanks to the Internet, I discovered you don’t necessarily have to know all about a topic to write about it. I just had to know how to find existing information and experts who were willing to talk about a specific topic,” said Sorensen.

An editor from a new ranching publication headquartered in Nevada stands out. He responded to her email inquiry by saying, “I have quite a few writers. However, I’m willing to review a 300-word article.”

“Wow. It’s more difficult to write 300 words and actually say something than write 1,000 words. However, I was determined to take any opportunity. I wrote the story, wasn’t paid for it, and it probably wasn’t published. But he contacted me a few months later and gave me an assignment,” she said.

Today, Sorensen writes for each issue of that magazine, “Working Ranch.”

Curt Arens, an editor for Nebraska Farmer, advised Sorensen to contact the Dakota Farmer editor. This led to a longtime relationship with that magazine.

“Loretta works hard to be thorough and accurate, which is very important,” said Curt Arens.

Arens was just one fellow writer who offered Sorensen support, encouragement and direction along her writing path. Yankton author Marilyn Kratz has also played a role in helping Sorensen develop her writing skills, frequently providing feedback and insight.

In 2016, Sorensen accepted a writing contract offered by the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Each month she writes four or five ag safety articles distributed over a seven-state area. She also produces a monthly feedlot safety column for “Feedlot Magazine” in Kansas and two ag safety blogs for “GRIT Magazine.”

Since the age of 16, Sorensen dreamed of writing books. In 2004, after writing about and meeting a Shelby County Iowa farmer, Steve Kenkel, the two of them coauthored “Kernels of Corn History, A Brief History of 18 Iowa Hybrid Corn Companies, and Corn Farming Implements.”

In 2005 she helped Tyndall resident, Elton Rokusek, develop his autobiography, “The Unknown Star.”

“I was in over my head with these book projects, but that stubborn streak I possess kept me from quitting. Once Elton’s book was published, I was hooked on the book publishing industry, which I would learn is even more challenging than freelance writing. I’ve taken some hard knocks in learning the graphic design side of book publishing, even redesigning an entire book because the publishing company didn’t work with the size I chose,” Sorensen said.

Since 2005 she’s assisted nearly 20 authors with independently publishing their books. In 2018 she published her own book, “Secrets to Baking Your Best Bread Ever.”

In December 2020, she published her first prayer journals, “Prayer Journal for Intercessors” and “Prayer Journal for Living the Daniel Life.” In Fall 2021, Sorensen published two more prayer journals, “The Country Journal of Prayer” and “Sweet Hour of Prayer: My Journal.”  

Most recently, in 2021, Sorensen worked with Davis farmer Harlan Temple as he developed his memoir, “The Best Is Yet to Be.”

How does she accomplish all these projects? Sorensen maintains a detailed daily/weekly/yearly planner. She sticks close to deadlines. And she always considers constructive criticism.

“It’s sometimes painful to hear constructive feedback, but the source is often right, and it pushes me to try harder,” Sorensen said.

Not all of Sorensen’s writing projects have gone well. The Christian magazine she established in 2005, “Spirit of the Plains,” had to be shut down in 2009. She took it in stride, recognizing that failure is sometimes an element of success.

As we advance into 2022, Sorensen has no intention of slowing down.

“I believe God gave me the ability to communicate through the written word. My hope is to maximize the writing opportunities God brings my way in the coming years. Whatever happens, I have no plans to stop writing anytime soon,” she said.

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