Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Welcome Leah Leonard

I'd like it if you'd all give a warm welcome to the amazing Leah Leonard. She's on the go and is very much into jammies. Uh...I had to go check then to make sure she was dressed in the picture she sent...LOL 

You just have to keep reading to find out about her fancy for PJ's.

1. How long have you been writing? What inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create characters that capture the imagination? 
I’ve been writing for over twenty five years now and started writing fiction four years ago.  I first got inspired to write a novel after I went to London one Christmas to visit a friend.  She was working and I went off to Ireland for the weekend and ran around Dublin, took a train down to Cork and kissed the Blarney Stone.  On the way back on the train that evening, I met a cutie and we went and had a beer in a pub in Dublin, ate breakfast together the next morning, and then I went back to London and never saw him again – in real life.  But, that experience inspired my first novel, Kiss at Blarney Castle.

The first book I ever sold was also inspired by that trip to London when my friend Theresa and I popped over to Morocco for Christmas that same year.  Road to Casablanca, about a woman who travels to Morocco on a blind date, happens at the Marrakech International Film Festival which had just ended when we got there.

Although nothing that happened in either book happened in real life, I definitely get story ideas out of the places I go and then ask myself, “What if…”

2. You’re writing a few genres now.  Which do you enjoy most?  What genre would you like to try that you haven’t yet?
I started out with super sweet romances, which I still enjoy.  Lately I’ve migrated to the Young Adult native American themed novels and I plan to stick with that because both of my series are super long.  Like I can see myself writing a book a year for at least the next ten years or so about both of my characters. 

As far as which genre I want to try, I’d say Western.  I penned a novella called Dead Man’s Diamond which is a romance with a little murder and mayhem set in Tombstone, AZ, the year after the Gunfight at the OK Corral back in 1881.  I absolutely LOVE that story and my publisher at Devine Destinies enjoyed it too.  Aside from that fact which is absolutely necessary in any writing endeavor, the western really bent my dad out of shape for some reason.  He does not think I should be writing historical westerns because I could not possibly know about those days way back when.  I guess I must be a rebel troublemaker at heart. I would LOVE to do more of these just to rile him up! J  So I will…..stay tuned!  In the acknowledgments of Dead Man’s Diamond, I said, “To Dad, with Love”  hee hee

Ah I’d love to write more, and eventually, I will.

3. Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this? Can you tell us something unglamorous you did within the last week or so?
When I am sitting in my PJ’s and on occasion, in my bed, leaning against my pillows under a pile of blankets, I am reminded of Dame Barbara Cartwright, the famous British romance author, who always dictated her works from the comfort of her bed.   Now that’s the life! 

As for me, I normally sit upright at a desk (still in my jammies though) but sometimes when I really want to get that decadent feeling, I get some chocolates out and get in the bed!  It makes me laugh!  We work so hard as writers – Jude, I know you know what I mean – I believe we have to get a little obnoxious once in awhile to poke fun of ourselves!

Speaking of glamour - One of my funniest memories of RWA was when I attended a “luncheon” for literary, a great cause.  Attendees spent $30 per plate to eat and when the “meal” was served, there was nothing there but dessert!!!!!!!  God I love this genre!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  HA HA J  How awesome is that???

But yes, Jude, unfortunately, extravagant episodes such as these are not as commonplace as we’d all hope! J  I actually washed dishes, cooked my own breakfast and…please don’t be frightened…vacuumed!!!!  AGH!  The horrors of it all!  J 
4. Plotter or pantzer?
A little of both.  I enjoy being surprised by my work and there is always some element of that, but my early romances are all written around poetry ( limericks in Kiss at Blarney Castle and country songs in the book Country Gold) so those pieces act as plot points for the story to be built around.  Even in my latest, Nascha and the Medicine Man,  I had a good idea where things were going before I started.

5. What would you like to share with new writers? Any suggestions or advice? 
Keep writing, write for yourself first and get it down on the page before you start tearing it apart. 

I spent my earlier years as an editor-in-chief and so it’s been quite a lesson for me to drop the editor so the creative part can come in.  Yes, there is a time and a place to bring the editor back into the room, so to speak, but first you have to have something to edit.  I do my best to separate those tasks.

Also, this is the toughest gig I have ever tried in my life!  I’ve been fairly successful in business in the past and so it’s been hard to take all the rejection and criticism you get when you’re putting yourself out there.  I’ve had to learn to keep on going, think of this as a numbers game and I hope other writers will also. 

The writing game, especially in fiction, is so darned subjective!  One person will love what you do while another will hate it.  You can only please yourself and so if you believe in what you wrote, you enjoyed it and you have the encouragement from friends and family, then keep going!

6. Speaking of encouragement, who is your support system? 
Great question! My mom was the first one who told me I should do this fulltime.  Besides her, my dad and brother have also been huge supporters and my now late grandmother.  I’m thrilled she got to see me get published before she passed.  Also I am blessed with a number of great friends who have provided me a sounding board over the years.  I think all writers need people who believe in them because then, when the going gets tough, you will keep going. I couldn’t do it without them! J

If you could be a character in any of your books who would it be and why?

7. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, who would it be and what would you eat?
Right now I am fascinated by Mark Twain, so it would have to be him.  He was so prolific in his life. I’m reading his autobiography right now. He told the publishers this was not allowed to be released until 100 years after his death so he could speak candidly about people without hurting their feelings or the feelings of  his or her descendants.

I think that is one thing I enjoy about fiction – the perception of freedom of being able to say whatever you’d like to say about the society, etc.

I would probably prepare him a tasty meal of fried chicken, buttery corn on the cob, fresh salad and some yeasty rolls.  He seems like a meat and potatoes kind of guy to me.  But I’d have to order it in, because I am not much of a cook! J

8.  If you found that, for one reason or another, you couldn’t write anymore, what would you like to do instead?
You know, I truly love writing more than anything I have ever done in life.  I cannot imagine life as anything else, but I suppose I would travel around the world, and get odd jobs.  I used to work in corporate America, but found it so unfulfilling, I could never go back!

9. Are you in love? Have you ever been? 
I have been deeply in love in the past, although I am not in a relationship at present.  I believe that’s why I love penning romances and happily-ever-after scenarios.  I believe romance novels give people hope and represent what we all want in relationship. 

10.  What are you working on now? Can you tell us a little about it?
I have 2 books coming later this year from Devine Destinies:

Samuel’s Promise which is an inspirational romance about the missionaries to Hawaii back in 1820.  It is based on a true story about a young Hawaiian whose parents were killed by warring kahunas so he stows away on a ship for America, gets educated at Yale and falls in love with the Bible, vowing to return someday to teach the ways of Christ to his people.   Unfortunately, he passed away before this dream became reality so the book is about Samuel Ruggles who met Henry and his promise to return to spread the word of God.  The trouble is he needs a wife, so after meeting Nancy Wells, they have a brief courtship and marry.  Will they survive the treacherous journey??? (Well, yes, it’s a romance after all! J)

Natalie Locke and the Sundancer – this is book two of one of my Young Adult series on the Native Americans.  This will be at least a ten book series and Natalie is one of my favorite characters. 

11.  Tell us about your other releases this year.
I’ve had a couple come out this year from Red Rose Publishing:

Love Letters from Sunset Hill
Mainstream Romance: Contemporary
ISBN: 978-1-60435-113-2  
Cover Artist: Leah Leonard
Editor: Pauline Hom
Line Editor: Red Rose™ Publishing
Word Count: 66,966

Nancy and Bill were high school sweethearts who expected to spend their lives together until her family moved away and they thought they would never be together again.  When a chance encounter at a high school reunion brings them back together, they engage in a love affair that threatens to tear her marriage apart until she decides to end things. 
Heartbroken, Bill suffers a stroke and moves to a remote mountain cabin where he pens love letters to Nancy and still wonders if they will ever be together.
When her husband dies of cancer, Nancy ventures to Sunset Hill to see her one true love.  After all these years, will Bill welcome her with open arms, or has he moved on?

Man of the Year
Mainstream Romance: Contemporary
ISBN: 978-1-4543-0042-7
Cover Artist: Leah Leonard
Editor: Pauline Hom
Line Editor: Pam
Word Count: 47,358 

Award-winning reporter, Jennifer Bradley, is assigned to write a story about CEO of the Year, Brock Martineau, for her upscale magazine.  Brock is known for innovative business practices because his company turns pinto beans from his family farm into a replacement for fossil fuel. 
Are his intentions as pure as he wants everyone to believe? 
Jennifer must find out fast and hope she can resist his charms in the process.  Her boss, Tonya, bets she can’t resist and, with a trip to the Bahamas on the line, Jennifer is determined to keep her hands to herself.

Natalie Locke and the Shapeshifter
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Legends Press (February 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984132503
ISBN-13: 978-0984132508 

On her way to a weekend ski vacation, Natalie Locke is involved in a head-on collision on a snowy highway and finds herself traveling through the space between life and death, where she sees a Native American man who visited her rock shop earlier that day.

Lone Eagle went to Locke’s Rocks in Albuquerque to find an important tribal artifact and return it to his father, Chief Looking Elk. Before the elderly chief passes away, he makes Lone Eagle promise one thing – to teach Natalie the ways of their tribe.

There’s only one problem – Natalie suffered a coma from her injuries.  Now, Lone Eagle must use his medicine as a Native American Shapeshifter to travel between worlds and help the girl get home. In the process, he learns a dark secret, and the painful past he shares with the Locke family threatens to destroy his tribal legacy forever.

Will Natalie wake up and return to the world of the living? And if so, can she forgive Lone Eagle's father for the past they share, and ultimately accept the gifts of healing and prophecy that await her?

Nascha and the Medicine Man
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (February 24, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1460921453
ISBN-13: 978-1460921456 

When her mother is unexpectedly killed by a drunk driver, Sasha Johnson discovers she has a new talent – she sees dead people. Her mother’s spirit is not at peace and when her grandmother is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Sasha’s life is turned upside down. Now she must leave her beloved New York City and travel with her ailing grandmother to New Mexico to go live with the father she never knew she had- a Navajo Medicine Man. Red Feather always hoped his daughter would return. He’d been receiving signs of her arrival for days. Sasha is shocked by the barren Gallup, New Mexico, and vows to return to Manhattan as soon as she can, but when her grandmother dies, she realizes her father Red Feather is the only person she has left in the whole world, and decides to give him a chance. But things aren’t easy. Red Feather lives in a mud Hogan in the middle of nowhere. He teaches Sasha much about the Navajo ways, including things she never knew about herself including her real name, Nascha, meaning Little Owl, and the curse she has of being able to see the dead that comes from her Navajo lineage. The kids at school have never seen the likes of Nascha before, so after a run in with the school bully Yaz, and a trip to the Principal’s office, Nascha must find a way to get along in her strange new world. Nascha and Yaz have another conflict – their parents have been enemies for years. When Red Feather buries Nascha’s grandmother on sacred land, Yaz’ father reports him to the Tribal Council. Will they have mercy on the burial or will the family feud drive a further wedge between Nascha and Yaz? And will Nascha’s mother ever find peace in the afterlife?

Now, if this has got your motor running and you'd like to find out more, check out Leah's bio:

Leah Leonard is a hopeless romantic and author of several novels.  She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Dallas Area Romance Authors and lives near Dallas, TX. 

Visit her online at

Follow her on Twitter at LeahLeonard or Friend/Fan her on Facebook at Leah Leonard

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