Handbags, Books...Whatever

Handbags, Books...Whatever (http://www.vickibatman.blogspot.com) is the website of Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction. Handbag lover. Avid Jazzerciser. Mah jong player. Yoga practioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Choc-aholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20 Author Interview with Leah Leonard

Hi, Leah. Thanks for blogging with me today.
Did you know my middle name is Lea? Only my mom, when angry, would say, "VickiLeaaaaaa," a sure way to know I was in deep trouble.
So tell about yourself. How did you get from __________________ to writing.
Who is your favorite author?


Leah Leonard said...

Hi Vicki!
Thanks so much for inviting me to blog with you! I did not realize you were VickiLea......hee hee! I will keep it in mind, believe me!

Anyhow, I was just talking to a friend a minute ago about the fact I have unbelievably been writing now for over 30 years!!!!!!!!! Scary stuff, if you ask me!

I started out in school yearbooks and newspaper staffs, became a college newspaper Editor-in-Chief, worked for The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina and then for magazines, newspapers, TV stations, etc., all before I started writing self help books in non-fiction. I started pursuing romance writing two and a half years ago and I love it more than anything I have ever done before!

Vicki Batman said...

Wow! You have been writing for a long time. I started with poetry when I was a kid.

So who is your favorite author?

Can you talk about your books? What kind do you write? Tell us about Blarney.

Leah Leonard said...

When I was a kid, Danielle Steele was my favorite author. My mom and I used to read every single book she ever wrote and I think it was that influence that started me wanting to be a romance writer. I also love Nora, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jane Porter....too many to name here!

I have two pennames - Leah Leonard, who writes sweet romances, and Annette Shelley who writes the more spicy stuff, along with some murder mysteries, sci fi, etc. I think I have ADHD or something because I feel really happy dividing my interests into two totally different styles.

Leah's books are sweet happily-ever-after romances that give me the warm and fuzzy feeling of how I like a romantic relationship to be.

Kiss at Blarney Castle is perfect to talk about here because it is about Christmas in Ireland. In the book, Dallas, TX, resident Laura Malone is faced with a daunting task - to travel to Ireland over Christmas to sprinkle her grandmother's ashes in several sacred spots. The sites are revealed to her through a series of limericks given to her by a mysterious stranger. When Laura rides the train from Dublin to Cork, she meets a handsome stranger on the train and together they go to Blarney Castle. John Ennis is heir to the "Ennis Beer" fortune and he helps her solve the mystery. As the book progresses and the two go on the journey together, they soon realize they are following the same path to true love walked by Laura's grandparents some fifty years earlier.

I'll let you comment and then I can tell you about some of the other books and stories.....:)

Vicki Batman said...

Blarney sounds so sweet.

I like your list of favorite authors. And one shares the same name as me!

What kind of writing turns you off? What stops you from writing?

How have you shocked your readers?

Any rejection stories?

Chris k said...

hi ladies

the blarney castle story sounds absolutely fabulous - I've always loved Ireland based stories - : )

I'm always hoping that some day I sell enough books that I can justify a trip to Ireland to write an Ireland based story-

I think it's wonderful how you can write in two styles - How fun for you and your readers.

Do you have more books planned in Ireland?

Liese Sherwood-Fabre said...

Hi, Leah and Vicki!

Leah, did you do any traveling as part of the research for your book? If so, what parts of Ireland did you enjoy the most?

Leah Leonard said...

Wow, VickiLea! Tough questions!

Let's see, I will start by what stops me from writing - In my younger days (hee hee I am in my 40's now...) I was not the most patient or structured person in the world and I think back then it was much more difficult to get myself to write on a consistant basis. For much of my non-fiction career I would lock up for a week or two and knock a book out, rather than doing a little bit each day over time. Since switching my focus to fiction, I am now pleased to say I have a very structured day where there are certain hours that I write. I've learned to incorporate breaks and also time for taking care of the business side of things. Recently I've been involved in a very extensive promo project for my latest non-fiction release called The Life You Deserve (www.lifeyoudeserve.info) and I must say, too much promo takes me away from my writing. I finally got back into my normal groove again, and it feels good!

OK what turns me off - the reality is, at some time or another, I am interested in reading just about anything and everything. I mentioned earlier I started out as a Danielle Steele fan, pretty much out of the playpen and on (hee hee) so there have been times when I devour fiction novels, and other times when I don't. While I was really immersed in my non-fiction world for about a decade, I read mostly non-fiction. That was fine then, but right now, I am back in to the fiction again and so for now, non-fiction is turning me off! But then again, I have a couple books I wrote years ago in non-fiction now being released, so I have to go there in order to promote and so the last book I finished was a non-fiction. I like to think of my non-fiction self as a penname now too, so that broadens the arena of topics I write about. Makes it easier for me to balance the three.

Leah Leonard said...

Shocking readers - I wish I could say I have shocked readers, but because some of the ten novels I have contracted to come out have not reached the public yet, let's just say the shock has not yet arrived, but believe me, it will!

I have a Sci-Fi Trilogy called Beyond 2012 which will be coming in 2010 from Extasy books under my Annette Shelley penname, and that one is going to be a bit shocking for many, I think! It is set in 3033 Earth where men and women are hooked up to machines, used for reproductive purposes only! Society is genetically modified to operate on fructose corn syrup and beings from another planet introduce steak to humanity, and discover it is not only nourishing physically, but erotically as well! hee hee I always laugh thinking about that series. In fact, this week I am finishing up writing the third book in the trilogy. It is a fun piece!

In non-fiction, I must say, I am about to shock the public with my forthcoming (any day now) release called Damned: True Tales of the Cursed, Hexed & Bewitched. This book documents the true case histories of letters I received while working as a counselor from people who told me fantastical true-life tales about why they were indelibly cursed beyond belief. It is in my mind one of the most interesting non-fiction books I have ever written in the ten years I've been doing it! Strangely, I recently considered how the books Life You Deserve is more Leah Leonard-ish, while the Damned book is more like Annette. Although I wrote both long ago, clearly there are some alterego issues coming through in all my work.

And finally on rejection - wow! Do we have enough room for me to describe how many rejection letters I've received in my short fiction career??? Probably not! One thing I think about rejection is that publishing is a numbers game to me. If you get it out there to enough people, eventually someone will take it. That's my belief. Of course then you get into your career goals too, and what you want to do with your brand, who you are willing to publish with and who you are not...etc, etc. When I sold my first novel, Road to Casablanca, I'd pretty much sent that one and Blarney out to tons of people and nobody would take it. One day, I saw a new publisher, Red Rose, and there was a note on the site about a Desert Rose Anthology with Sheiks. I decided to write them and tell them that although Road to Casablanca does not have Sheiks, it is set in Marrakech, Morocco (where I actually vacationed a few years ago)and told them they might find it to be a fit. One day out of the blue, I opened my email inbox and saw "Road to Casablanca" in the subject line. I thought, "Oh great! Here we go again, another rejection!" so when I opened it, I had to read it a few times to get the fact they were actually going to take it! I think after one receives so many rejections, you come to expect it so it can be quite a surprise to finally make the sale!

Leah Leonard said...

Hi Chris,
Thanks for popping by!

Do you have more books planned in Ireland?

Great question! Currently I do not, but I will tell you I love to write about Ireland and so I will surely do another at some point in the future.

Ireland is a magical place, for sure, which is why I think so many writers choose it for a setting, including the wonderfully fabulous Nora!

Kathy Sullivan said...

Congratulations, Leah, on such a varied writing career. Your books definitely sound interesting and I'll have to check them out.

Rejection is scary stuff but a necessary fact of life as writers, and it's good to see people perservere and accomplish their goals. Good luck in the future, too!

Kathy Sullivan

Leah Leonard said...

Hi Liese!
Thanks for visiting us today!
Your question -
Leah, did you do any traveling as part of the research for your book? If so, what parts of Ireland did you enjoy the most?

The answer to that is YES! Travel is my passion and my favorite passtime (other than writing) in the whole world!

I have visited several countries and wrote Blarney after I visited Ireland. In real life, I took the train to Cork and did meet a cute guy on the train. We had a Guiness at a local pub after the train ride and he told me he was going to inherit some land from a newly deceased uncle. Somehow this experience translated into Laura and her adventures with the heir to the "Ennis" beer fortune!

On the same trip which was back at Christmas 1996, I was in London at my friend's house over the holidays. We went to Morocco over Christmas and actually spent Chrismas day there. The day before we arrived, the Marrakech Film Festival had just finished and I saw that Martin Scorcese and all the Hollywood types had just been there, thus, the book Road to Casablanca was born!

The book Casablanca is about a woman in Dallas (of course) who goes on a blind date to Morocco with a Hollywood film producer and they fall in love.

More recently, I just finished two mystery novels by Annette Shelley set in another of my fav international cities - Mexico City!

And right at the moment I am writing my final 2012 book which will be set in modern-day Greece, where I also went about 10 years ago.

I hope to write some more about neat places as the years go on.

Vicki Batman said...

Leah, I love how you've been inspired by your travels. That's cool.

You have many projects in the works.... are they all with e-pubs?

If so, how is that working for you?

Leah Leonard said...

Hi Kathy!

Rejection is scary stuff but a necessary fact of life as writers, and it's good to see people perservere and accomplish their goals -

Yes, I agree! I think all writers have to hang in there and remember that everyone has different tastes and styles. If you like it, your ideal readers or critique group likes it, then go for it and keep sending until you find the right publisher.

Oh Liese - almost forgot to tell you my favorite parts of Ireland - I have only been to Dublin (which I love) and then took the train to Cork. Blarney Castle was one of the neatest places! When I go back someday I'd like to drive around gthe entire country in a car.

Leah Leonard said...

Hi Vicki!

You have many projects in the works.... are they all with e-pubs?

If so, how is that working for you?

I have several projects in the works now, but no plans to publish with e-pubs. I've sold the first twn to epubs so now I am wanting to aim for traditional route.

E-pub I think is part of the future, for sure, but I still believe reading is a sensory experience and there is nothing like holding a good book, feeling the pages, and cuddling up on the couch on a rainy day to read!

I am happy I went with an epublisher to start though, because at the time that was the only option I was presented with and I felt like it gave me the opportunity to work with editors and I've learned a lot about writing in the process. ( and still so much more to learn as time goes on....)

Angi Morgan said...

Nice Job, Leah!!

Thanks for sharing with us more about yourself.


KymRoberts911 said...

Hi Leah!

You have your hands in so many different pots, I'm curious how many hours a day you spend writing. Do you finish one book and then move to the next? Or are you the type that can write two different projects at once?
I've read Kiss at Blarney Castle and Road to Casablanca. You definitely make your readers feel like they are 'on location' with your characters. I look forward to reading the 2012 series!


Leah Leonard said...

Hi Angi and Kym!
Thanks for stopping by!

You have your hands in so many different pots, I'm curious how many hours a day you spend writing. Do you finish one book and then move to the next? Or are you the type that can write two different projects at once?

Thanks for these questions, Kym!

Here is the schedule in a nutshell - normally I go to the gym every day from 9-11, then come home, eat and answer business calls and emails and then start writing between noon and one and write until 6:00p.m. then break for dinner and relaxing unless I am really close to finishing something, I may write all night and may skip my gym. Most days, though, this is it. I do not get up early. I am self-employed and I want that to have some perks, so for me, one of those is sleeping in a bit!

Exercise is so important for me! I am hyper and when I work out first thing, it wears me out so I will sit still and work in the day!

I do have many pans in the fire,but once I start a book, I like to get it completely knocked out before moving on to the next. I have many starts, but I have an order to which will be done and in what order. Now it is the final 2012, once that is done, I will surely find another to do!

Vicki Batman said...

I work out in the morning, too, Leah. Get cleaned up and settle down to work. Run errands while poopies sleep and then back to work.

Somedays I'd like to sit and read and read and read....

Vicki Batman said...

Golly, Leah, you are so prolific.

We'll wind up with these last few questions:

Fill in the blank: Your ideal fictional hero would think you gorgeous if you ____________.

How much do you love cake?

Leah Leonard said...

Hi Vicki!
I also like to sit and read somedays, especially when it rains! Good stuff!

I think it's great you work out too! I was also thinking about the whole idea of working out and making time for fun and balance, which has been tough for me over the years in all my endeavors.

I am a total work-a-holic, everyone who knows me knows that. I am single and enjoy spending time in my ventures, because to me, it's not like working!

But I have realized I need to make time to take a break and do other things besides work, which is why I created my schedule to be off in the evenings ( or at least most of them) this year. THe first year I wrote full time ficiton was 1997 and I worked around the clock! There has to be balance, and enjoying what you do helps too!

Now to your mind-bending-ending questions ---

Fill in the blank: Your ideal fictional hero would think you gorgeous if you ____________.

...if I greeted him at the door in a fuzzy bathrobe and bunny slippers. :)

How much do you love cake?

CAKE ROCKS! Love it! Especially ooey-gooey-double chocolate fudge cake with creamy chocolate fudge frosting! I like to have my cake and eat it too! Life is short , enjoy every moment!

THANK YOU, Vicki, for having me on the blog today! This is my first blogging experience ever, and I am so happy it could be with you!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Feel free to keep posting if you'd like. I'll check back again to make sure everyone gets a response.

Blessings, Leah

Vicki Batman said...

You're more than welcome, Leah. And I love the bunny slippers. In fact, I have some and shall have to try on Handsome who should be returning from a trip in, oh, fifteen minutes!

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Autumn Jordon said...

Hi, Leah. Your 2012 and 2033 books sound awesome. I will definitely keep an eye out for the release dates.


Leah Leonard said...

Hi Vicki!
I can't wait to hear if the bunny slippers worked for you! hee hee

And Hi Autumn! Thanks for writing! A bit more on 2012 -
Book One is Beyond 2012: Return to Love - although mankind is relegated to slavery, one woman, Myra Vol, bravely frees them all and they of course live Happily-ever-after for the moment.

Book Two - Beyond 2012: Return of the Reptilians - The darker forces are angry and return to earth for a final battle. Myra's brother, Thomas now knows his unusual looks and behavior are more than coincidence. He is a Reptilian and in this book, he must fight against his own inner nature to eventually pursue love and family

Book Three - Beyond 2012: Rise of the Queen - this book goes back to 2012 and what caused all this in the first place. Queen Devlyn from Book One is younger here and we learn how she is lured into darkness after her home and everyone on earth is destroyed. A forbidden love affair with the enemy sets the course for the downfall of the planet....

Happy Thanksgiving!

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