Posts Tagged ‘shifters’

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.

After his terrifying experience in the Luna Park Hollywood Horrors attraction (yes, a bad parenting decision – thanks for rubbing it in!), I really thought my youngest one wouldn’t want to go the horror themed dress up this year for Halloween. In fact, I wasn’t even certain he’d want to do Halloween for fear of seeing someone dressed up scary while we were out and about at twilight. He even shied away from wanting to watch some of the ‘scary’ bits in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (a movie both my boys love but that always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth as to what horrors can be done to a beloved franchise when producers don’t spend the time really making sure the reasons for adding to that franchise are solid – like a good script, directing, CGI, an actual story that makes sense within the world that has already been built… Don’t even get me started on the Star Wars prequels!! The horror….the horror…)

Anyway, I digress…

Zombie Skeleton and Glow in the Dark Skeleton

Zombie Skeleton and Glow in the Dark Skeleton

My boys embraced Halloween a few years ago when they were invited over to join friends of the family in their Trick or Treating and in the years since, the theme for Hallowween has always been horror.

Well, perhaps not always – both my monsters are boys after all and in the spirit of all boys, zombies, zombie skeletons, vampires and Star Wars characters are usually all the rage for Halloween.

Darth and Chewie

Darth and Chewie


Just like fart jokes are all the rage for humorous gags and Minecraft is the computer game of choice.


Anyway, mostly horror has always been my boys’ Halloween go-to of choice.



Scary Vampires

Scary Vampires

But back to my story…


After the disaster of the Hollywood Horrors, I thought last year’s wonderful make up effort, (the youngest one allowed me to go all make-up artist on him and turn him into my version of a scary blood-sucker) would not be repeated this year.

Imagine my pride that he truly looks like he would suck your blood!

Imagine my pride that he truly looks like he would suck your blood!


Which made me very sad. Turning him into one of the living dead was huge fun for me and dusted off my make-up skills that I’ve not really used since I gave up the theatre before the older one was born. The youngest one was always enthusiastic about being made to look like something horrific (and given my penchance for the paranormal, I was happy to play along with this, especially as the older one wouldn’t even let me near him with makeup in hand.) I was all resigned this year to the younger one wanting to go as Harry Potter (he dressed up as Harry for a fancy dress day at school) and have nothing but a lightning bolt to draw on his forehead. Not that I have anything against Harry – love the books, love the movies – and he really did make a very cute Harry, but it would mean all my fabulous theatre make-up would continue to sit in the make-up bag feeling incredibly sad about being alone and unused and unapreciated (of course, that was the make-up feeling that way. Not me at all.)

I could not have been more wrong.

Red-eyed devil

Red-eyed devil



The older one (who won’t even watch Doctor Who because he finds it too scary) made his usual dress up choice, which involved putting a demon mask on and not letting me anywhere near him with my make-up skills. He wouldn’t even let me ‘demonise’ his hands with some effective blood splatter 🙁  or wear all black – yes, that is a camel on his chest. Very demonic.

However, the younger one surprised the pants off me when he decided he wanted to go dressed as Freddy Kruger.

‘Why Freddy Kruger?’ asked me, a little shell shocked and trying not to bring up the bad experience of the Hollywood Horrors again. ‘Isn’t he a little scary? I mean, do you even know who he is?’

‘He’s the baddy from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street,’ says the youngest one who has never seen a horror movie in his life, nor has his brother, but they both seem to have an extensive awareness of them, or more to the point, the scary masks that the killers like to wear in horror movies.

‘Well, you know that’s a horror movie,’ says me carefully.

‘Oh, yeah.’

‘Then are you sure you want to dress up as him?’

‘Yeah. He’s scary and cool.’

‘Really?’ says me, incredibly surprised.

‘Oh, yeah. He was the nice man who took a photo with us at Hollywood Horrors. I like him.’

‘But I thought that scared you.’

‘It did, but not him. He was there before the scary bit. Although he is scary and I want to be scary. It is Halloween after all, Mum. You’re meant to dress up scary.’

‘Oh, right. Well… okay then.’

I thought in the weeks leading up to Halloween he would change his mind (he usually does change it about twenty times) but he didn’t. he stuck to this idea of wanting to be truly scary. We couldn’t find a mask for him – they are all adult sized – and the children sized Freddy Kruger costumes only come with a hat, striped top and glove with ‘claws’. The kid on the front of the costume we bought had some make-up on and the youngest one looked up at me and said, ‘You can do better make-up than that, Mum. Remember, I want to be truly scary.’

Freddy Kruger

Freddy Kruger

So, even though I was still a bit bewildered by his attitude to this whole thing, I decided to give it a good go. I bought some great prosthetic pieces to help enhance the awful visage of Mr Kruger and brought some new make up colours and went to town on my version of the nightmare villain. And this is what I came up with…

I was pretty happy with the end results (he is pretty amazing about having it put on – he sits so still and allows me to do his neck and hands as well to create the entire feel.) And he was really thrilled with how he looked – go figure!

Then, when we were out and about with my sister and nephew, I suddenly realised why he wanted to be made to look truly scary. When you have a really well executed scary costume, people respond to it in a really exagerated way (Holy crap, you’re Freddy Kruger!’ ‘Wow, that’s scary!’ ‘Oh my god, that looks real!’) and you get more lollies. In fact, he got the all time best comment, ‘That’s the best, most scary costume of the year, for me – here, have a handful more of these.’ Every young monsters dream!

I have a smart cookie on my hands. One who knows a good scare is worth a tonne of sugar!

My Little Monsters

My Little Monsters


Both boys (otherwise known on the night as ‘my little monsters’ brought in a really good haul of lollies – more than I imagined they could, with little FK coming in ahead of the rest by about a dozen lollies.

He’s pretty good about sharing though, so there weren’t any fights and everyone had a lovely night – it was beautiful and mild here in Australia at the moment with the spring roses out and scenting the air. My sister and I had a great time strolling, chatting and enjoying the boys’ excitement and rolling our eyes over the inevitable sugar overdose and trouble getting them to bed.

I know we don’t ‘celebrate’ Halloween here in Australia like it is celebrate elsewhere, but when you do it, it is really quite a fun, lovely thing to do with lots of generous people who are happy to open their doors, exclaim over the costumes and hand out lollies to the horrifying monsters, devlish devils, bloodsucking vampires, fairies, witches and movie heroes and villains that come to their door. it is more about the ‘treats’ with no sign of the ‘tricks’ that you often hear about happening on the night in the US when people go overboard. In the years we’ve done it with friends or family, goodwill flows and it is a lovely thing to see.

alexadsett-image-225x300I am thrilled to announce that Australian agent, Alex Adsett, has agreed to represent me and my novel Dark Moon and it’s subsequent series.

It seems she is as enamoured of witches and warlocks, werewolves and shifters, magical occurances and all things paranormal fantasy romance (not to mention the things that go bump in the night) as I am.

Alex has been working in the publishing industry for 15 years and has recently added literary agent to her credits. She has a small, but growing list of genre authors, and has also worked with many popular and well known Australian authors (Barry Humphries and Isobelle Carmody are just two – I’m hugely impressed) while building Alex Adsett Publishing Services. See more here:

I am really excited to have such a passionate proponant of authors, writing and reading good books on my side. I look forward to building my career with her help and guidance and am incredibly thrilled to be one of her stable of talented genre authors.

I have the pleasure of hosting the talented Peta Crake on my blog tonight to talk about her new book, Revelry and all things paranormal – a special love of mine.  Welcome Peta. Thanks for being a guest. It’s really exciting to have you here.Peta Crake author pic

PC: Thanks, Leisl. It is always nice to chat with another paranormal fan and author.

LL: I really loved your debut novel, Harbinger – for me it was a mix of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series with a touch of the quirky yet butt kicking heroine, a la Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse. Your new novel, Revelry, is set in a different ‘world’ of shifters. Tell us a little bit about it and your new kick-arse heroine, Revelry Bell.

PC: Awww thank you. I love Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris’s work. You’ve made my day.

Revelry CoverIn Revelry’s world, shifters and other paranormal beings are known to exist but are not openly acknowledged. They are policed by the Preternatural Council and its Enforcers.

Revelry Bell, a wolf shifter, is on the run from her pack which has treated her so badly she would rather die than return to it. She takes refuge in a small town which coincidentally happens to also be the home to a lot of shifters. She only intends to stay for a few months, long enough to earn some money to top up her empty coffers, then move on.

Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow her around as she immediately attracts the attention of the local Enforcer who has the power to arrest her and send her back to her pack or sentence her to death.

LL: Ooh, that sounds amazing. Now I’m struggling to finish this interview and not go and pick up my copy (it’s next in my TBR pile). But, I’ll control myself and get on with the questions. What inspires you to write paranormal romance? Where do your ideas come from?

PC: I love the world and character building of paranormal romance. I love being able to create worlds that could co-exist with our own. Worlds that create that whole “are they real or aren’t they?” mystique. It is like when I was a child, I loved the idea that fairies might be real, that they could be living in my garden. Or all those urban myths like alligators living in the drains below New York or a black panther living in the south west of Australia. It appeals to the side of me that loves mythology and folklore. As for the romance part, even when I start out writing a story with no intention of it being a romance, my characters often have other ideas.

I get my ideas from all over the place – documentaries, news stories, scenery, and people walking down the street. But I would have to say my biggest inspiration comes from music. Sometimes a song I have heard hundreds of times will all of a sudden trigger an idea or a character in my head. One of the scenes in Revelry (and her name) was inspired by the Kings Of Leon song, Revelry. I have a whole tragic scene mapped out for another story set to Ed Sheeran’s The A Team.

LL: That sounds fascinating. Can’t wait to see what comes of that. I love stories about Weres and shifters – they are so raw and passionate and ruled by their senses. What do you think is their appeal to lovers of paranormal romance? What’s their appeal to you?

PC: I think the biggest appeal for me is the added element characters have to deal with giving them both internal (fighting natural instincts that may not be appropriate at the time) and external (having expectations placed on you for what you are rather than who you are) issues. There is also the whole dilemma of when a character’s animal side is attracted to one person but their human side is attracted to another. Part of me also loves the idea of being able to change into another creature so I could fly, run really fast or swim underwater for a long time.

LL: I’m with you there, Peta. I also love that added dimension to the conflicts of a shifter character. You have mentioned that you lived in Japan for some time and your love of the paranormal was fed by their wonderful mythology. Why do you think these mythologies are so enduring and speak to so many people on so many different levels? Why do they speak to you?

PC: I think the thing I loved most about the mythology in Japan is how alive it still is. It is an active part of their culture. For example, there are manekineko (good luck cats) in many shops, and statues of Tanuki (shape changing racoon dogs) are often seen in front of shrines.  Not to mention, practices such as Setsubun, a custom where, at the beginning of February, people walk about their houses throwing roasted soybeans and calling for good fortune to enter and evil spirits to leave. I enjoy mythology from around the world as it helps me understand the people who created the mythology in the first place. I love seeing how the environment and natural forces played a part in people’s beliefs. Mythology teaches us life lessons through example rather than telling us what we should or shouldn’t do.

LL: That is so true. I’ve always been drawn to mythologies for that reason. They are endlessly fascinating. So, aside from being a writer drawn to mythologies, who is Peta Crake? What do you do? What hobbies do you have? What gets you up in the morning and going every day?

PC: Other than being a writer I am also a mum to a tween and a teen and I work part time in retail. I also dabble in polymer clay creations and art clay silver. Although I haven’t practiced for a while I also like Japanese flower arranging (ikebana) which I studied when I was in Japan and officially reached the basic level necessary to teach it. What gets me up in the morning? Usually a cat demanding food.

LL: LOL. Both my cat and dog do that – and they know they don’t get fed then. Bottomless stomach, both of them. And wow, art clay silver and Japanese flower arranging – you are one talented lady. But enough gushing and on to the interview. I know many authors of paranormal fiction do a fair amount of research into various mythologies, while others pretty much make everything up. What camp do you lie in? Do you research current mythologies and use the gods, creatures, spirits etc. that are already known, or do you prefer to go with something fresh and new and just out of your mind?

PC: I do a bit of both. For example, Harbinger features gods from Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Celtic mythology as well as a few of my own creations. Sometimes I do not have a clear idea of the mythological creature/god I am after, rather, I know what the character represents or can and cannot do, then it is just a matter of a lot of research to find the creature or god who fits those characteristics the best.

LL: What’s Peta Crake’s pet peeve? What’s your favourite thing?

PC: My pet peeve would have to be the amount people are disrespectful towards others. I am very much of the “treat people how you wish to be treated” camp.

LL: Me too. I’m always saying that to my boys. And your favourite thing?

PC: My favourite thing? I am not sure I have one favourite thing and if I do I think it changes all the time depending on my mood.

LL: I love hearing other author’s call stories, so, tell us about when you got ‘The Call’ for your debut novel, Harbinger.Harbinger Cover

PC: I pitched Harbinger to Penguin at the Melbourne RWA conference in 2011. They requested a partial, then the full then sent back a very thorough “revise and resubmit” letter. I stewed over the changes I needed to make for a few months. I had just finished the final edits of Harbinger and sent it off for the second round of the Emerald awards when I got an e-mail from Penguin asking if I had made the revisions and would I like to resubmit the manuscript to them. I sent it off. Not long after I received a lovely phone call from Sarah Fairhall saying they were setting up a new imprint, Destiny Romance, and would love Harbinger to be one of the launch books. *cue running around house madly giggling and shrieking*. So within a year of attending my first conference and pitching for the first time I became a published author.

LL: What a great story. After all that happened, what’s been the most surprising aspect of getting that call and being a published author?

PC: I think the steep learning curve. I thought I had done a good job of editing Harbinger before I submitted it but there was so much more to do before it could be published. I learned so much during the editing process that I think my writing has slowed down a little as I now think differently than I did before. I am constantly asking myself about character motivation and consistency.

LL: What’s up next for you? Any projects on the boil? I’m hoping for a follow up to Harbinger – there’s a tease for that on your website – any news there?

PC: I have just finished a story which features a mixture of Asian mythological creatures, fairies, vampires and were-cats which I need to find a home for. I am also working on a sequel to Harbinger as well as another project which I am unsure how to categorize just yet, maybe a gothic paranormal romance.

LL: Sounds fascinating. Well, thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today, Peta. It was fun finding out a little bit more about you and your writing.

PC: My pleasure. I’d also like to give away an Kindle copy of Revelry to those who comment and answer the following question:

In a paranormal world, what kind of shifter would you be?

LL: Great question. I think I’d like to be some kind of predatory cat – a tiger maybe. They’re beautiful and you know what they say about cats – they have nine lives. Also, they’re graceful. I’d like to be more graceful. Thanks once again, Peta. You can buy Peta’s new novel, Revelry, from:

Destiny Romance:




Google Play:

Author bio:

Peta Crake grew up in a small town on the south coast of Western Australia, where the idea of fairies and monsters residing in the thick forests was perfectly believable. After spending nearly a decade living in Japan and revelling in its culture, she turned her hand to writing. Now living back in Australia with a husband, two kids, a cuddle-addicted cat, and a thoroughly confused dog, she writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance full of strong sassy heroines, surprising heroes and disturbed side-kicks.

You can find out more about Peta at:



Facebook Page:

Dark Side Down Under:



A writer I know, M.J Scott, had a wonderful rant yesterday about people who tell you what you should love and that what you do love is wrong – it was really quite special, you should check it out

Anyway, the gist of this rant was that people should be allowed to love what they love and not be made to feel stupid about it. I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree. A great majority of people, when I tell them I am a writer, are amazed and impressed and enthusiastic when asking me about it, even if they don’t read in the genres I write in. They share in the love, and make me feel special. love-wedding-card-two-diamond-hearts-vector-illustration-32538039But there are people out there who, when I tell them I am a writer, and they ask me what I write, the look on their face when I say ‘romantic suspense, paranormal romance and fantasy’ says quite clearly to me that they think all of these things are stupid and it is a waste of their time to ask me anything further. Of course, what they say next (always along the lines of, ‘Oh, that’s good, I guess’ or ‘I don’t read that’ (which really means, ‘I don’t read that shit, so don’t expect me to be impressed))’ doesn’t really alleviate that impression at all. It’s like they think it being in those genres makes it less real than if it was say, a literary work of some kind.

It isn’t that they don’t like romance or fantasy or paranormal that upsets me – it’s the fact the general impression I’m left with is that they think I shouldn’t like those genres. And not only that, they’re often quite pushy and loud in the way they make it clear that it is a waste of my time because it is a waste of theirs.

I’m really quite okay with them thinking what I do is a waste of their time, but to try to push that onto me is what I object to. None of us are carbon copies of anyone else. Why should I like what other people like? I don’t expect them to like what I like – they are free to follow their own hearts and minds with no reference to me at all. I just wish these kinds of people would treat me and those like me with the same courtesy. But if wishes were fishes…

The thing is, while I have studied literary novels, (I did a BA majoring in literature) I don’t really enjoy them. I’m sure they’re wonderful and have great meaning and make people think deeply and all, but to me, I don’t want to read something that’s going to make me feel depressed at the end of it, or thoughtful, or like I’m a great big smarty pants because I managed to wade through it and mostly understand what the hell the author was on about, or even worse, not a big enough smarty pants because it completely escaped me what the whole novel was about. When I was studying, the books I would curl up with at the end of the day were always a romance of some kind, fantasy or sci-fi. There is nothing so wonderful to me as to be carried away into a world of unreality, to let my mind and imagination free range to conjure up whole worlds of people and scenarios that have come out of someone else’s imagination. It frees me. It picks me up out of my day. It makes me happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire literary writers, (I work with a few in one of the writing groups I am a member of and their work is wonderful). I think there there is great value in that kind of novel for many people, but I’m not one of them. And I don’t think I should be made to feel wrong or stupid or dirty about that.

Romance readers and writers suffer from this kind of prejudice all the time and have done so for years. Admitting to reading romance was always tantamount to admitting you read fantasy and sci fi, that you watched Star Trek and Dr Who and have watched Star Wars more times than you could count and liked (god forbid) to read as much or more than you liked sport or having a piss up with your friends. If you did all these things (or even only a couple of them), you were considered a nerd. And when I was growing up, the term nerd was permission for someone to treat you like you were some kind of weird bug they just needed to step on.

Well, the term nerd has changed. Shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ has been wonderful for making nerds claim their nerdism with pride.Big Ban Theory My son calls himself a nerd (and by any definition, he is), but he calls himself that with pride. And I’m proud of him too. He has inherited his nerdism from me and his father (my husband), and he wears it with aplomb. Nerds are no longer universally looked down upon as socially inept inferiors, but as people who can and are, ruling the world. Much of the social media and technology that are integral to so many people’s existences is created by ‘nerds’. They have a right to be proud of their accomplishments and their nerdism. They’ve got to where they are because they love something so hard and there is nothing wrong with that (and if you need proof of this, watch this video of Wil Wheaton from Star Trek, Eureka and The Big Bang Theory, talk about being a nerd. Check it out, it’s pretty special.)

I think romance readers and writers can be just as proud of our love. We are romance nerds. We want love to be the answer. We want everyone to have a Happy Ever After. We want people to come to understand themselves, to learn to be better people, so that they are ready to love and be loved by others. Killing me softly lo resWe’re happy to talk with anybody about who has the same love, to share, to go to conferences, to book clubs, writing meetings, join associations like RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) and ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) and generally own our love of love. We don’t, and shouldnt need, anyone else’s approval of what we love and as long as we’re not shoving that love down unwilling throats, we should be allowed to stay happy loving love.

When I wrote Killing Me Softly, it wasn’t because I was trying to make some big statement or change someone’s life with my profound thoughts, I wrote it because I wanted to share a story about people overcoming adversity and growing stronger together, connecting, falling in love, and beating the odds to get their happy ever after. And quite frankly, I don’t think there is anything more profound than finding self fulfilment and love. If we could all do that, we’d all be a lot happier. The world would be a lot happier. That’s all I want for my children. Self-fulfillment, love, happiness. If that is my only gift to them, then that is enough for me. And if the way I choose to share this with the world is by reading and writing romances of all kinds, then what’s so wrong with that?

Nothing. And I’m here to say to those people who think it is wrong, perhaps the problem is not with me or those who love love like me, but with your feeling like you have the right to tell me what I should love; what is right to love. There is no right or wrong. There is just personal preferences, and a right to be happy having them.

Embrace what you love, no matter what that is (as long as it doesn’t hurt others is my one proviso). And if what you love is love, then I think you are pretty special and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Romance Writers of Australia