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Posts Tagged ‘Leisl Leighton’

Me and Kerrie Patterson - both gritty writers

Me and Kerrie Patterson – both gritty writers

Just recently, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I write, why I write, where I get inspiration from, and how it is I can keep going when the obvious rewards (publishing, money) are so minimal and rejection is so rife. All good questions and I’m not going to answer all of them here as I’d go on for pages and pages trying to cover it all.

However, I will answer the how I keep going part despite the negatives, because I think that’s an important subject for all writers – for anyone actually who is wanting to do anything and stick at it.

It all comes down to grit.

Aint Love GrandI always associate strongly with music, and there have been a few songs which have spoken to me a lot about the drive to keep going despite all the odds and the push backs and the rejections. I actually sang these last year at the Romance Writers of Australia, Ain’t Love Grand! conference last year. The weekend’s theme was a cabaret one, so it seemed to fit, especially with my background in performance, primarily in cabaret and theatre restaurants. I sang ‘Maybe this time’ from Cabaret, a song the editors at Harlequin Australia had asked me to sing at the cocktail party they sponsored after they found out about my performance background.  I was very happy to sing this song, as I play it to myself (and sing it to myself) a lot when I’m struggling a bit to find the oomph to keep going. It speaks to me about never giving up, always looking to what you want, even when you keep getting knocked to the ground over and over. I finished with ‘They just keep moving the line,’ from the TV musical, Smash, another favourite song to listen and sing to. It once again is about putting your head down and just keep marching forward, keep reaching for the goal, even when that goal is moved over and over again. It was an amazing pleasure to share these with my writing friends and compatriots at the conference and I know that those songs spoke to them as well.

Singing about grit

Singing about grit

But to go with these songs, I had to write a speech to go with them, to explain why there are important to me, what they give me, and why I think the meaning behind them can speak to others as well who are in this crazy writing journey as well. I closed the conference with this speech, and it went over well, but I didn’t really think much about it afterwards. However, given the conversations I’ve had lately with a number of people about how I do this, how I keep on keeping on, it seemed to me that the best thing to do is to share the speech I gave to RWA members last August and hope it speaks to others now as it did then.

GRIT – A WRITER’S BEST FRIEND

With this being our 25th year, and with the Olympics having just been on, it has made me think about what it is that drives people and organisations like ours to success. What made Lynne Wilding and her fellow romance authors think they could succeed in this industry all those years ago when they were stuck here in Australia, so far from the home of romance publishing OS and what made them think that they could start RWA and wish to succour and help other authors like them? What kept them going through the hard times? And for that matter, what makes any of us want to excel at something, to turn it from a hobby to something more, to exceed expectations, to overcome difficulties, stress, personal and physical struggles, to enhance our own abilities to the point of success and then do it all again?

Are we touched with madness? Are we delusional? Were the ladies who started RWA either of those things?IMG_1008

I don’t think so. I think it is something else that drives us – and them – to what others perceive of as madness.

Many people say, ‘Oh, I wish I could become a writer,’ or ‘I wish I had time to write,’ or ‘I know I could be a brilliant writer, if only…’ but it takes a certain kind of person to rise above those procrastinating sentences and to actually put the hard yards in to make the time, to learn to be brilliant, to take a wish and make it real. Lynne Wilding and her fellow authors who started RWA were that certain kind of people. And I think that none of you would be here today if you also weren’t that certain kind of person. But what is it in us that makes the difference between the ‘I wish’ and the ‘I do’? (and yes, that is the world’s worst pun for us and the HEAs we write!)

The one essence that rises above talent, or natural proclivity or drive, is GRIT. Yes, grit. Psychological research states that grit is as important in a person’s ability to succeed as talent or drive. What is grit, I hear you ask and why do I think you might like to hear about it? The reason I think you need to hear about it is that everyone here is dusted over with varying layers of grit – and you thought that was the tiredness of the long weekend you’ve just got through! No, you’re not tired and covered in dust – you’re just gritty.

Grit is the ability to keep driving through, no matter the obstacles, to pick yourself up and dust yourself down after knockbacks, to get on with the myriad, boring little activities and repetitive tasks that ensure expertise in something; the knuckling down when it seems hopeless and finding some way, any way, forward.

Eddie the Eagle movie poster

Eddie the Eagle movie poster

Have any of you seen or heard of Eddie The Eagle? He was a British man of no particular talent who decided that he wanted to go to the Olympics. However, he was only the 9th fastest skier in Britain at the time. And he’d tried many other sports before he’d hit on that one. When everything seemed to be ranged against him, he looked up, pressed on, and found a sport that nobody in Britain had pursued in a competitive way since 1929 – ski jumping. Despite having no sponsorship and many other obstacles in his way (including people telling him that he was demented), Eddie the Eagle found his way to the Winter Olympics in 1988 and won the heart of the spectators, media – and the world. He did it because he never gave up. He wasn’t good – just good enough to qualify. His jump was less than half that of the person who actually won. And he came roundly last. But that didn’t matter. He wanted to do it and he found a way. He didn’t give up. He had grit. And he succeeded in his dreams of participating in the Olympics.

I think RWA has had grit – despite hard times of almost bankruptcy – where a few, wonderful women knuckled down and wouldn’t give up because they didn’t want to lose what was so precious to them and others (see, grit). Despite the knocks our genre regularly gets from the media and literary types, our organisation has persevered, we’ve grown, we’ve got better, we hold onto what’s important and look to the sky, like Eddie the Eagle, wanting to fly. RWA has grit.

Lana and Daniel - more gritty writers

Me, Lana and Daniel – writers with grit

And as individuals, each and every person in this room has grit. You have to hold onto that grit no matter what, because this industry is ever changing. It can feel like you’re flying one moment only to hit the snow pack hard and feel bruised and broken because you’ve got a bad review, or not done well at a comp, or your critique partner doesn’t like what you’ve written, or your book didn’t sell and your publisher won’t publish the next book, or your self-published or traditionally published book is just floundering in a sea of other books. Feel sad – have that pity party for one, I’m not saying don’t. But then dig deep. Use that grit I know you have and raise your head back to the sky and forge on. Read, watch TV or the movies, go out with family or friends, play sport, go to the gym, sink into another hobby that brings you joy, do whatever you need to do to fill that well and make yourself feel better and then get stuck back in. Because nothing is truly worthwhile in this world when it’s too easy, when it’s handed to you on a silver platter. When you’re in the depths of despair, it can feel like that would be nice – I’d rather like someone to just float on by and tell me how brilliant I am out of the blue and give me everything I’ve ever dreamed of. But is that likely to happen? Nope. What is more likely is that the grit that’s inside me, the thing that makes me want this and hold onto that dream for grim death and never give in, will rise up with a little bit of coaxing from me and carry me forward.

RWA logoSo, going forward, I wish you all grit. I hope you have enough to cover yourself in it, to breathe in its gritty-grittiness, to feel the coarse-edginess of it on your skin, toughening you a little bit more, making you harder to knock down. And for this next year, while I am still president, I promise you that RWA will continue to have grit too, will continue to help you, work alongside you, be there for the good times and the bad, give you a helping hand to get back up, yell at you a bit when you stay in your pity party a bit too long (but nicely), and help give you the strength to make that grit truly mean something in the end.

 

Me and Alex Adsett - super agent

Me and Alex Adsett – super agent

I haven’t posted for a long time, and one of the reasons is after advice from my brilliant agent, Alex Adsett, I became a bit of a writing hermit (when I wasn’t doing family stuff, working or doing presidential things for Romance Writers of Australia!) and was concentrating on finishing the Witch-Were Chronicles so we could go out with them and try to get a publisher as interested in these stories as we are.

And guess what? After a year and a half of hard work, writing my writerly fingers to the bone and wearing out a computer (and frustrating my family when I wouldn’t answer them as I was too caught up in my characters and their problems 😉 ), the wonderful Kate Cuthbert at Harlequin Escape, proved to be just as interested as Alex and I are in this world of Were, Witches, Shifters, powers gone wrong, curses and a prophecy that could destroy them all.

I now have a 4 book contract with Harlequin Escape for the Witch-Were Chronicles – so, really, hard work and being a writing hermit truly does pay off!

You can see Alex’s post announcing this exciting news here:

The Witch-Were Chronicles sells to Harlequin Escape

Or simply read what she said about the sale here:

AAPS is excited to announce that the amazing Leisl Leighton has signed with Harlequin Escape to publish The Witch-Were Chronicles. This four-book series is paranormal romance at its best – brilliant world building, strong heroines, and sexy heroes, with ancient curses haunting the werewolf packs of modern Australia.

Leisl is the much-loved president of the Romance Writers of Australia, and has previously published two titles with Penguin Destiny.

Escape will publish all four books of The Witch-Were Chronicles later this year as a digital box set. This means that Leisl’s fans and new followers can binge-read the whole series in one go – no waiting.

Harlequin Escape is the digital-first imprint of Harlequin Australia, and this represents AAPS’ first official sale to the Escape imprint.

 

I am really excited that these books, tentatively titled, Witch, Healer, Blood and Ghost, will finally go out to readers later this year and hope that everyone will fall in love with my Witches, Weres and Shifters as much as Alex, Kate and I have.

Happy reading everyone and stay tuned for more news on the Witch-Were Chronicles – I will share publication dates, covers etc as they come to light.

20150312_124815We woke up on our third day to mist over the Howqua and the air clearer than it had been for days. It hadn’t been as cold during the night as it was up near Craig’s Hut and we’d actually managed to get a reasonable night’s sleep. The back burning smoke had blown over to the other side of the mountains and there was a light blue sky above. We were in for another lovely day.

After another hearty breakfast with hot water poured out of billy cans set over the fire for tea or instant coffee, we packed up our tent, fed and brushed the horses, saddled them and after walking them around to warm up their backs, we set off.

P1020758The riding over the last few days had been hard with lots of steep hills, but today we were promised mostly flats – so we thought that we were in for an easy day of it. How wrong we were. We were riding on an old cattle trail looking down at the Howqua. It was narrow and the ground rose on our left too steep to ride up, and fell away on our right down to the river. It wasn’t quite a cliff, but steep enough that if you and your horse went down, you wouldn’t be stopped by anything but the trees and bracken growing out of the rocky side of the mountain. It was beautiful country, but I found I really had to keep my wits about me and really had to work as a team with my horse, Chelsea.

Some of the path had been softened a lot by recent rain, and our trail leader, Shelley, was rather annoyed at how damaged portions of it were. They’d been assured, after having had an accident along that trail where one of their helpers had slipped off the trail with her horse and slid down the hillside a few months before (nobody was hurt, luckily), that the Parks had been through the trail and done work on it to make it safe for riders. There were sections that were decidedly not safe and we stopped a few times so she could take photos of various sections. Unfortunately, we couldn’t turn around, because the path was too narrow, so we just had to keep going forward.

20150314_153250

Our reaction to the trail

Our reaction to the trail

All of us rode carefully and with very little talking as the concentration levels were high. All you could hear was the sound of hooves on the dusty trail, the sound of the Howqua burbling away below us and the sound of birds in the trees, occasionally cut off by the distant sound of an electric saw in the distance as the back burning continued and the call that went down the line as we warned each other of dangerous sections of track.

About half an hour from the stockman’s hut we were heading toward for our first break of the day, we passed a very sandy section of track where the edge had broken away. We all went high on the track to try to avoid breaking away any more of the track, calling back to tell everyone to do the same. Then just as we all thought we were safely through that section, Uncle Richard’s call went from the usual volume to a loud shout as we heard the sound of scrabbling hooves and a desperate cry and then a kind of rumbling, snapping sound.

“Man down. Man down,” Uncle Richard cried out.

We stopped, hearts in our mouths, and heard more snapping, rumbling sounds and then “Oh fuck! Why me?” come from the back of the line.

It was so shocking, it was funny, and we all laughed, relieved that if Karen (who was the ‘man’ who’d gone down the side of the hill with her horse) was able to swear and say something in such a disgruntled, pissed off tone, it meant she was reasonably okay. P1020760

Shelley was amazing. She kept absolutely cool, slipped off her horse, got my sister to hold the reins and then scrambled back along the path to the back of the line. Uncle Richard said later when telling the story of what happened, that Karen’s horse – a newer, young acquisition that didn’t have enough trail sense not to try to prance along the dangerous track – had slipped on the soft, broken away bit of trail, it’s back legs going down. He’d heard Karen try to urge the horse forward and up, but the edge was too soft and they both went down. Thankfully, the bracken was so thick, it caught them and didn’t let them slip too far down. By the time Uncle Richard had managed to hop down and get behind his horse, it was to see Karen’s horse come back up over the edge, a little scratched and shaken, but incredibly nothing more. Uncle Richard managed to grab its reins and keep it calm and then Shelley arrived to see what had happened.

Safe on open ground at another stockman's hut

Safe on open ground at another stockman’s hut

In trying to get off the horse, Karen had gone a little further down. Shelley edged her way down to her and together, they managed, using the trees and plants, to pull themselves back over the side. Karen was a little scratched and bruised, swearing a blue streak and laughing that it was her again – she’d been the one who’d gone down on that other ride too, both times because she was the last in the line and the ground had been softened too much by the horses that had gone through before her. She was okay. IMG_0346

She didn’t want to get back on her horse though and not because she was ‘gun shy’. They couldn’t check out the horse properly and didn’t know if there was a more serious injury until we got on more stable ground, so she led her horse over the last section.

My admiration for her rose even higher at this point. The ground was rough and there were steep rises that were tough on the horses, but even tougher on a person on 2 legs. But she just kept going, her concern for her horse apparent.

Then we entered a clearing and all of us breathed a sigh of relief as we saw the stockman’s shack. We hopped off our horses, checked that Karen was truly okay, with her and Uncle Richard enjoying the retelling of the story while Shelley and Karen made sure her horse was okay. We rested for about twenty minutes, had a much needed snack (apples and snakes) and then headed off.

20150314_153338The next section of riding was much easier. We were now right on the Howqua and were riding a curling path that led us over it and back a dozen times. We were able to canter for small sections and got a little wet in others – which given the warm day, was quite welcome. We had lunch at a lovely spot and stopped for an afternoon break at another stockman’s hut – they are scattered throughout the mountains and all cut along similar lines, usually in a lovely clearing near water of some kind. Some of them are privately owned, some are kept up by Parks Victoria and all of them are still used in one way or another. And the isolation of every single one of them made me marvel at how tough and stubborn those early settlers and stockman must have been to ride the mountains and high plains like they did and building these huts in the middle of nowhere.

We had some fun in late afternoon cantering through a section of the river, true Man from Snowy River style and then cantered along the final section of flats to our camp – a quiet section of the river where someone has built a simple house overlooking the river just near Sheep Yard Flats. The man whose house it was came down to greet us as we set up camp, happy for the company. He had a gorgeous sheepdog, called Melbourne, who had speaking eyes and loved the attention he got from all of us. P1020764

IMG_0349When the horses were washed down, fed and settled in for the night, my sister and I set up our tent, I had another shower – glorious to get rid of the day’s trail dust – and we settled in for the night around the campfire, telling stories (well, we mostly listened to Uncle Richard tell his stories – he’s got lots and is really entertaining and had us all laughing), shared the story of Karen’s fall with the others who weren’t on the trail with us, laughed over her ‘Oh Fuck! Why me?’ comment and had another wonderful, home cooked meal from Kay.

Uncle Richard managed to talk me into singing for everyone and so I agreed to one song which ended up turning into half a dozen when they kept asking me for another – I was tired and struggling to remember the words of songs I normally know off by heart. Then we all turned in for the night, having had a very exciting, hard day of riding and feeling a little sad that the next day was going to be the last of this wonderful adventure.

I love series, whether in book form or on TV or at the movies. I love when there are characters to follow and a story arc that encompasses episodes or books that requires me to remember events and references from former episodes/books to help give depth and greater understanding of what’s going on. I love the cleverness of the writing when something is references in the VERY FIRST EPISODE and then the payoff for that is in the last episode/book. It blows my mind and makes me go back to watch/read the series over and over again to enjoy it all over again, and if it’s really good, get even more out of it on each read/viewing.

It’s nice to know others think that series are pretty hot shit too. Check out what Kristen Lamb has to say about why she thinks series are amazing, are coming back into popularity (although for some of us, they were never ‘out’ in the first place) and why we need them. Love this.

Series and psychopaths: the author sadist and why authors love the pain.

I have been invited by the fabulous Jennifer St George to participate in the Meet the Character Blog Hop. You can read about her chosen character, the fabulous, sexy and mysterious Nicolo Capitini in Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon here. Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon

Jennifer writes sexy romances set in exotic locations and is one of the rising stars of Destiny Romance.

The rules of the blog hop is that I introduce a character from a book I’m writing or is about to be released and answer the set questions about them. Then I have to tag another person to continue the hop. The character I’ve chosen is River Collins from Healer Moon, the second in the Witch Were Chronicles which started with Dark Moon.

MEET THE CHARACTER 

1.) What is the name of your character? 

River Collins

2.) Is he fictional or a historic person? 

He is fictional – although he feels completely real to me. 

3.) When and where is the story set? 

The story is set just a few years into our future and is set in Melbourne, Australia. 

4.) What should we know about him? 

River is a Werewolf who has had to suppress his true nature for most of his life when he and his twin sister (Skye Collins) were kidnapped from the Pack they were a part of by their grandparents to keep them safe from the people who had killed Skye and River’s parents. Skye is the heroine of Dark Moon, the first in the Witch-Were Chronicles, and when we meet River in that novel he is most definitely not himself. He has been drugged to help him deal with the anger of his wolf at being forcibly repressed for close to 20 years, and despite a few moments of clarity, seems to be living in a fantasy world. He has a talent for and love of gardening and spends much of his time in the garden doing beautiful landscapes.

DarkMoon_cover5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his life? 

In Blood Moon, River is off the drugs, but after years of having his wolf repressed, he finds he can’t change into anything but a half-man, half-wolf monster that is so full of rage, it wants to kill everyone, especially the woman who is meant to be his mate, the Pack’s Healer, Bronwyn Kincaid. He is fighting himself at all times and his wolf’s desire to be with his mate – which he knows can’t happen, because he is broken and dangerous. Add to this the fact that the insane Witch from Dark Moon responsible for his parents’ death is after him to use the schism in his nature to help her destroy his people and take all the magic for herself, and there is more than enough for him to be messed up about.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character? 

To save his Pack and his mate and to protect Bronwyn from him and stop the mating from coming into being. He thinks the answer is to get away from them all and kill himself so that he won’t be a part of destroying them – which is more difficult than it sounds, because they are keeping him constantly under surveillance, aware that he is a target. He’d also like to find some way of killing Morrigan, the insane Witch who has made it her life’s mission to destroy the Were.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? 

It’s called Healer Moon and is the 2nd novel in the Witch-Were Chronicles, the first of which, Dark Moon, was published this year.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

I am still polishing it and writing Blood Moon and Ghost Moon, the 3rd and 4th in the series, but hope that it will be ready to be submitted next year. 

So, that is River’s story. And next week it will be time to hop to Sasha Cottman’s blog to find out more about her chosen character.

sasha cottman author picAbout Sasha

Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read.

Five years ago, Sasha accidently enrolled in a romance writing course. Other than Pride and Prejudice she had never read a romance book before. She soon discovered that the world of historical romance allowed her to combine her love of history with the passion of romance writing.

You can find out more about Sasha at: http://www.sashacottman.com,

Follow her on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/sashacottman,

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sashacottmanauthor    

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7136108.Sasha_Cottman

Letter From a RakeSasha’s award winning debut, Letter From a Rake and its follow up, An Unsuitable Match are out now at all major e-retailers.An Unsuitable Match Hi Res Cover Pic

 

 

It is my pleasure to have Leesa Bow on my blog tonight. I first met Leesa on Facebook when she sold her first book, Winning the Player, Winning the Playerwith Destiny. She struck me as one of those people who are never caught without a smile, someone who is positive about life and their place in it, and in the time that I’ve come to know her, I haven’t been proved wrong. I had the pleasure of meeting her face to face at the RWA conference in Sydney this year and she is one of the loveliest people you are likely to meet – incredibly warm and very generous with her time and efforts to help all her friends and other writers. She has helped me out with a lot of promotional opportunities and it’s a pleasure to be able to give her the opportunity to meet new people here.

It seemed appropriate, with this winning attitude (and given she writes about sports stars and their need to win in their personal and professional lives) that Leesa talk to us today about what winning means to her.

Take it away, Leesa.

Leesa Bow Portrait (small)Thanks for having me Leisl! My name is Leesa Bow and I write new adult contemporary romance with a sport theme.

The term winning has always fascinated me. Winning is ingrained into our DNA and our mere existence comes from our ancestors overcoming huge obstacles to survive. People see winning in life in so many forms, not only the winning in sport, which is the central theme in the stories I like to write. From politics to horse racing, sport and celebrations, even an individual achieving a single goal, the power of success drives us to move forward.

But it isn’t just that. Often on social media I see captions of Winning with a picture of someone doing something simple. People are appreciating the smaller things in life without having to rely on an adrenaline rush for success. To me, enjoying life is about winning. I married a football player and witnessed the highs and lows of professional sports players, appreciated the success after months of intense physical work but when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, winning took a whole different meaning.

To beat cancer is winning.

To have life is winning.

To give life is winning.

Celebrating happiness is winning.

Charming the OutbackSharing the happiness of winning is good for the soul. Sharing creates more than one winner. People love to win and feel they matter, and that they make a difference. When we feel good about ourselves we open our hearts to love. Writing about love makes me happy so I guess writing romance makes me an absolute winner!

So let me tell you about the fun stories I write. My books are about second chance love and the sports hero whose tough exterior is weakened by love.

Winning the Player is about love catching up to you no matter how far you run. The sport theme is football and basketball. Charming the Outback is a second chance love story set in rural Australia, with a mild football theme. Jardine is book one in my cricket series. It is a young romance about first time love, and I am madly writing the sequel, Caught Out so not to leave readers disappointed.

JardineJardine will be released on December 15, 2014.

Blurb:

At eighteen, Ava is sure she has found her soul mate in Jardine. Convincing their friends and family that what they have is more than just a crush, however, is an entirely different story. Jardine’s parents have his life mapped out with plans that don’t include Ava. 

Their plans to get into med school and start their future together crumble when cricket sensation, Jardine, is selected to play for the Australian team and expected to spend most of the year touring internationally. Ava knows since they agreed to follow their dreams, no matter the cost, she has to let Jardine go.

Ava also discovers a new inspiration to move on with her life. But can she keep it a secret from Jardine? If he discovers the truth, everything between them could be destroyed.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23375169-jardine

Winning with my books is being able to share my stories with readers, and knowing that they enjoy them raises the successful bar. I liken it to a premiership sporting team, and the supporters getting just as much enjoyment with the added feeling of accomplishment as that of the winning team.

Thanks for reading and a big thank you to Leisl for having me!

It was a pleasure, Leesa. And thanks for telling us about what winning means to you. You can find out more about Leesa’s books at www.leesabow.com

 You can buy her books at:

WINNING THE PLAYER

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/Winningtheplayer

Amazon AUS: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00J3KF4T0

iTunes: http://bit.ly/WTy7wB

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/winning-the-player

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1s02wpT  

CHARMING THE OUTBACK

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/Charmingtheoutback

Amazon AUS: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00LNSTXJW

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1oiUqpa

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1rW5WGK

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/charming-the-outback-1

 

 

 

Romance Writers of Australia