Friday, April 18, 2014

The Novelists' rebuttal to "The Novelist"... A humorous answer to Elle Magazine.

When Elle Magazine did a spread of a wardrobe feature of a "Novelist" (with a total price-tag of about $7k)... Some of us novelists reacted, (read: laughed), and author Lynne Kelly gathered our responses. Here is our rebuttal. I promise it shall amuse, enlighten, and entertain.

The Author's Wardrobe For Real

You'll note my offering sticks out like a great, black hole. *snicker* I am infamous for my Victorian Gothitude. But even all my corsetry combined would not add up to a $7K outfit (which would wipe out more than one of my advance checks in one fell swoop). No, the working author is not living Sex and the City style, that's Hollywood. (No way could Sarah Jessica Parker have afforded that beautiful Manhattan apartment on a columnist's salary alone). We're living, working, struggling artists, and while I'd not trade the author's life for anything in the world, let's be real about it.


But, writing aside, all this does make me think I need to start my Gothic Style Guide feature I've been meaning to do for quite some time...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour! Eterna Files, YA and more: In which Leanna explains why she does what she does...

Thanks to YA author Lynne Kelly for getting me involved in the Writing Process Blog Tour! Here we answer some basic questions about our process. The questions may be basic, but writing a book is far from it, and every author's process is as unique and as individual as the array of books throughout history. I love talking shop, so here goes....


1.      What am I working on:

Book 2 of The Eterna Files, a Gaslamp Fantasy saga set in featuring two rival teams of secret agencies between New York, each tasked with finding the ‘cure for death’ on behalf of their respective governments. A teaser novella for the series launches this fall and book 1 launches February 2015. Close on Eterna’s heels, my acclaimed, award-winning and bestselling Strangely Beautiful saga (also Gaslamp Fantasy in nature) re-releases. Both series are with Tor/Forge. I’m having such fun with The Eterna Files, which takes and runs with all the themes I’ve been working on throughout my career; the spaces between life and death, the fine lines between faith, belief, spirituality and doubt, the arcane, the magical and the unfathomable mysteries of the human heart. I’m so in love with infusing the paranormal into a ‘realistic’ Victorian world and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to do so book after book. Some of my Magic Most Foul characters will appear in Eterna, and in the finale of the series, The Double Life of Incorporate Things, I introduce two of Eterna's stars. I love weaving all my characters through different series to show them all from different angles.

2.      How does my work differ from others of its genre:
I love this question because it’s in my particular brand of Victorian Gothic Fantasy that I truly hope to make a lasting mark. Readers and reviewers tend to compare my books to 19th Century Gothic authors rather than contemporary authors, mainly because my style borrows so heavily from my Gothic forefathers and foremothers. While I don’t utilize the density of 19th century style, between my themes, interests and the bent of my language, my work is entirely entwined with a dark, dramatic, dare I say ‘strangely beautiful’ tradition.
What I attempt, while honouring and valuing my Gothic forefathers and foremothers, is to allow for my female characters to have a broader range of experiences and agency in my work. Most women in the traditional Gothic are victims and/or trapped by their material confines of the age, of expectations, mores, roles and more. The women of my novels are tasked with saving themselves and others, rather than being a less dimensional plot device. 




3.      Why do I write what I do:
This is closely tied to how my work differs from others of its genre. I feel called to voice the Victorian Era that I love so deeply, but to do so via a modern lens, and allow for voices that would have been marginalized by the constraints of a classist, excessively patriarchal society. I do so not because I think our society ‘knows better’ than the Victorians (we have just as many skeletons in our modern closets as they had in theirs, in some ways more insidiously considering the pervasiveness of modern technology), but I do have current freedoms and platforms a Victorian version of myself would have chafed heartily against. So much of the freedom, laws and safety we take for granted today were changes born of the constraints, injustices and traumas of 19th century pedagogy, changes that people fought and died for.
And yet, we live in a new gilded age in terms of income inequality and the rapidity of technological advancement mirrors the industrial revolution in an uncanny way. There are beautiful ways to parallel the past and the present and those connections keep me coming back time and time again to the themes of my work and the fascinating complexities of the Victorian era and the resilient human spirit throughout time.
4. How does my writing process work?
*Chortle* I am entirely haphazard. Such a pantser. While I have to know a general arc and trajectory of where I'm going, every book is as mysterious to me as the last. Every book is new, every book's process feels like I'm back to square one and every time I wonder if I can cobble a book together out of the quilt pieces laid out before me. The only common theme is that I write non-linear, out of order, I write the scenes that compel me and keep me up at night. (Beloved characters are the anti-sleeping-pill).
I write what I want to write first, daydream about all the things the book needs, and eventually I put in all the connective tissue, which is the most exhausting part of the process, making all those pieces make sense. That's when it feels like work. The initial process of the book is like taking a vacation into a foreign land and I'm seeing it through the eyes of my characters, it's rather magical, really, but then the connective tissue is where the muscle comes in, and the editorial part of my brain needs to make the hard choices about making sure none of my characters have run away with the storyline too far off the core course, which has happened a few times in my career. That's where critique partners and editorial staff come in so handy, as a book that's only seen your eyes and mind alone just isn't as capable of a story as it is when it's gone through multiple revisions and some trusted viewpoints.  
All in all, writing books is what I love most in life and feel is my purpose in life, and so writing process, for me, isn't just something I do, it's something I live. And I hope you'll enjoy my books!

DARKER STILL (Magic Most Foul book 1: http://tinyurl.com/darkerbn  )
THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART (book 2: http://tinyurl.com/twistedbn )
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF INCORPORATE THINGS (book 3: http://tinyurl.com/tdloitaz )

I tag my darling Alethea Kontis, award-winning, NYT Bestselling author and certified Princess on this tour, catch her responses next Monday on her blog!
 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Leanna's "Like" Contest for an Amazon Gift Card and Books!

My Dear Readers!

I am so excited to be gearing up to bring you The Eterna Files this fall, and so thrilled to be published by Tor/Forge. My new series continues my exploits in the Gaslamp Gothic; another Victorian Fantasy saga that builds upon a great deal of the themes I've been exploring in all my novels, with a large and colorful cast of characters (with cameos of Strangely Beautiful and Magic Most Foul characters) sweeping across 1880s New York and London. Quirky men and women battle, spy, worry, invent, plot, scheme, exasperate and adventure as a race for the "cure for death" brings far more troubles than either city could have imagined. Eterna Files book 1 will launch in February of 2015, but a teaser novella will release digitally this fall to sweep you all into the world! The Strangely Beautiful saga will re-issue in new, revised and improved editions soon thereafter!

In the meantime, I'm continuing to build my audience and reach, as my new partnership with Tor/Forge blooms. As you may know, this is a hard business. And I've certainly suffered some hard knocks with the closing of my first publisher. I fight tooth and nail to stay solvent, stay noticed, stay out in the marketplace and continue to stay true to all of my visions. But I truly can't do that alone. I can't do that without an audience, or a connected fan base. You, dear reader, have always been so vitally important. Here's a chance for some mutual reciprocity.

If you like my work, there are very quick, easy, free ways in which you can help support me. Little ways with big impact! A strong presence online garners stronger support from publishers and vendors, so the more reviews I have, likes on my Amazon Author Page, GoodReads traffic, for example; all this really adds up in helping an author navigate the vast sea of readership. In the end, it is all about the numbers, people. But I don't expect you all to do a lot of clicking and liking without entering you to win a prize! It's only fair; help me, help you.

Here's how it works. Below you'll find the RAFFLECOPTER form to enter. I'm focusing on raising the "like" level of my Amazon Author Page and Goodreads Profile, as well as garnering some more reviews for my most recent works.

Enter the Rafflecopter below to be registered to win! Three winners will be chosen in April. Prizes are a $15 Amazon Gift Card, and a chance to win one of my books of your choice! (Out of print Strangely Beautiful titles not available)  

Cheers and thanks and happy haunting! Please tweet this post and tell your friends!

Again, these stories could not happen without you, dear readers, thank you for your time and support!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Anthology Announcement! And Appearances Update!

I'm very happy to announce that my short story "Roebling's Monster" has been selected for inclusion in Myth Ink Books' horror anthology: DARK TALES OF ELDER REGIONS: NEW YORK

And as this is Teaser Tuesday, here's a draft of the first paragraph:


Roebling’s Monster
By
Leanna Renee Hieber

Anything that is wants to be loved. In whatever way they know how. Even monsters.
New York, I have done so much for you. I will do so much for you still. I can hold you up and keep you safe but you must forgive me first. I am a mass murderer and I am asking the city’s clemency before it’s too late for me to be redeemed. You are, each one of you, my judge and jury and I need you to know me. I can no longer live so boldly in your sight if you remain blind to the truth of the whole of me. You think you see me, every day, but I can’t go on like this, pretending to be noble when you don’t know the whole story.

-
(End of selection)

Read the Myth Ink Books press release about the anthology and check out some of the other fabulous talents that are included!

Also, those of you close to my hometown of Cincinnati Ohio, I hope you'll join me for the Steampunk Empire Symposium, April 25-27, where I'll be reading from and signing The Double Life of Incorporate Things as well as previewing my upcoming Tor saga The Eterna Files!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Week at Goodspeed With My Musical

I’m going to attempt to describe my week at GoodspeedMusicals as part of the Johnny Mercer Foundation’s Writers Colony. It’s hard to put into words, because it comprises a lot of things; emotions, dreams, energies, talents and surprises coming together in what was one of the more magical weeks of my life.

Something you need to understand about my life, dear reader, is that it just doesn’t stop. I’ve 7 rotating freelance jobs. The largest and foremost of these is of course as an acclaimed author of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels such as the Strangely Beautiful saga, my recent Magic Most Foul saga and my forthcoming Eterna Files saga from Tor/Forge as well as a bunch of recently released and forthcoming anthologies. My various other jobs are as a floor director for a small television studio in Manhattan, a background extra and/or stand-in on shows like Boardwalk Empire, a private tour guide, an artist’s assistant, a workshop presenter/teacher/public speaker, and last but certainly not least, the book (script) writer for the musical adaptation of my debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.
As you can imagine, with seven rotating jobs, a husband, a bunny, Family, dear friends, co-running Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, singing soprano in church choir, busy isn’t the half of it. And I love it all. But I don’t get the chance to just be one thing and focus solely on one project or task.
But beautifully, Goodspeed let me be just one thing for one rare week: The book writer of a musical. Strangely Beautiful the musical was invited onto the incredible Goodspeed campus in East Haddam, CT for one uninterrupted week in immaculate artist housing in a charming neighborhood interwoven with gorgeous 19th century architecture. I was in heaven. I was surrounded by very talented peers. (Check out this Broadway World press release to see my incredible company. As you can see, those invited have racked up tons of awards and accolades, that Prism Award listing is mine. ;) ) My team of Nicholas Roman Lewis (Music & Lyrics) and Kenny Seymour (Music & Lyrics) and yours truly had a large house all to ourselves with a wide living room and a piano and a whole week to think and dream and finish our show, getting it ready for the next step; putting it on its feet for a full workshop production.
We were joined by adept dramaturge “Uncle Lee”, Clifford Lee Johnson III of Manhattan Theatre Club fame, who was our guardian angel through the week guiding our morning check-ins over coffee and bagels and our evening presentations of whatever we’d been working on that we wanted to share with our peers to collect feedback. He spoke with my team early in the week and gave us really useful insights, several of which led to my entirely restructuring act 2 in a fit of streamlining and simplifying for the purposes of tightening dramatic effect; showing a moment rather than telling it, always a helpful fix, and the show is better for it.
I went into the week unsure about how I would be received, as my literary resume favours being a novelist over that of being a musical book writer / playwright, but theatre is where I began, a BFA in performance was my degree and my first professional venture, and plays and adaptations of 19th century literary work were my first publications and professional presentations. I spent the first 8 years out of college working the regional theatre circuit as a professional actress and tinkering around with one act plays that garnered acclaim in various festivals about the country. So I know theatre, it’s in my blood. My novels are very theatrical. Still, that does not automatically make a script writer for a musical. However, I’ve a talent for adaptation and I know my characters better than I sometimes know myself and I have no issues with changing up the logistics of the story entirely to make it work for the stage. That’s the key: flexibility and willingness to see other alternative ways to tell the same kind of story but in a different medium. Willingness to cut favourite bits, favourite characters, emotional moments and plot threads. A musical is a distillation. And I’ve been loving the process of making a new sculpture out of the clay of my series.
My peers throughout the week at Goodspeed were so incredibly generous with their thoughts, kind, and crazy, crazy talented. The staff at Goodspeed were all delightful and similarly helpful. The focus and the level of professionalism was second to none.
Here were a few of my favourite things:
1. Getting a chance to be Percy for a week. In the evenings we presented some of our work to our fellow writers and creators and my team and I traded off songs and parts but I got to be Percy, my dear girl, my favourite character I’ve ever written (shh, don’t tell the others!) and just live in her odd skin for a while and bring her to life for other creative professionals. I’ll not play her in the show (come on, folks, if the novelist AND the script writer also plays the lead gal it looks a little bit like a vanity project and that’s not what we want), so this delighted the actress that still thrives within me. I do miss performing and will accept opportunities when something comes my way, however none can come in the way of my novels. My books must remain the star of my life. But this particular indulgence was such a treat.
2. Hearing new songs come to life before my very eyes and ears. Nothing so magical as that first brush with new creation.
3. Getting entirely snowed in. This helped focus. And it became like a magical snowy fairyland.
4. Everything I mentioned about how beautiful the campus and the people of Goodspeed were.
5. My insanely talented fellow writers and the supportive environment we created.
6. On the last evening, a literal (drunken) horde of writers and musical directors from two different programs converging on one house and performing a rousing (it was horrible), howling rendition of One Day More and Lily’s Eyes in which the musical directors applauded every key change.
7. Making new friends and new projects. Hey New York City, come see me perform on March 31 at Bobby Cronin’s amazing show where the proceeds benefit animal shelters! (Bobby and Wade were highlights of my trip, Ican’t wait to see their show, Sunset City, take flight.)  
8. Sitting at the table or piano day after day with my team and making the bones of a show really start to sing, literally and figuratively.
9. The Goodspeed Opera House was built in 1876. My era. My people.
10. Did I mention how much I enjoyed the people I worked with? Goodness do I love talent and do I love when it all comes together and you can see that talent making collectively better and better art day by day. There’s nothing so enlivening as that, and Goodspeed was the perfect setting to revel in that for a week. Can you tell I’m in withdrawal?
For more about Strangely Beautiful The Musical, come visit! Follow the show on Twitter. On Facebook.
For the books the musical is based on, the books are currently out of print but not for long. In the meantime, check your local library and hang tight until Tor / Forge re-issues all of them in brand new, revised, shiny, exciting, refreshed editions! Strangely Beautiful characters do show up in The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, as all my series have crossover characters!
Cheers and happy haunting!

Gorgeous Goodspeed Opera House
 
The charming Goodspeed campus


 


A picturesque snowfall, perfect for a writer retreat!


Unaware of a photo being taken, Kenny explains to me the Exorcism underscoring. I appear appropriately intense.

The Strangely Beautiful Team: Nicholas Roman Lewis (L), Yours Truly, and Kenny Seymour
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Release Tuesday! Announcing SCRIBBLING WOMEN - For Charity!

Today's post is announcing my involvement with SCRIBBLING WOMEN and the Real-life Romance Heroes Who Love Them - NOW AVAILABLE and already an Amazon Bestseller!
.
 
I'm so blessed to be a part of this anthology with amazing group of award-winning, bestselling authors! Please visit the Scribbling Women website to see the full list of contributors, this anthology, only $2.99, entirely benefits Women In Need, a fantastic charity that supports women in transition. Read about why my husband is a darling hero to me.
 
About the book:
"In Scribbling Women and the Real-Life Romance Heroes Who Love Them, twenty-eight romance fiction writers from diverse subgenres reveal their real-life stories of how they met, wed and love—and are loved and supported by—their spouses and life partners."
 
Buy the book, warm your heart, support a great cause!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Live from Goodspeed Writer's Colony! A scene from Strangely Beautiful the Musical!

For today's Teaser Tuesday, I'm sharing a page from our work-in-progress show, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, the musical based on my debut novel. I'm here this week at Goodspeed Musicals Writer's Colony sponsored by The Johnny Mercer Foundation.

The Strangely Beautiful team of Nicholas Roman Lewis, Kenny Seymour and I are so thrilled to be here to work on the show in a conducive, supportive environment.

So here's a scene from our show! Nicholas and Kenny handle the songs and lyrics, due to my background as both a professional stage actor and playwright, I'm blessed to be writing "the book" (the script) of the musical, so here's how I've adapted one of the early scenes from the novel into an early scene in the show! Enjoy!

From THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER, a new musical
Music: Kenny Seymour
Lyrics/Music: Nicholas Roman Lewis
Book: Leanna Renee Hieber
 
I SCENE 1B

(Lights up on a bloodied street, detectives over a body – a recent “Ripper” murder. Headmistress Rebecca Thompson looks on, stricken. She is elegant and severe. At her elbow is stern, stoic, striking and formidable Professor Alexi Rychman, leader and second in command of the Guard. Alexi’s gaze and mind wanders. They observe at a distance)

Rebecca:

Two, Alexi. Now two women. Mutilated, like nothing the Grand Work has ever seen.

Alexi:
(Turning to her)

We deal in spirits. Possessions. Poltergeists. This is something remarkably…. different. We had no warning, no Pull to summon our powers. We’ll have to wait.

Rebecca:

Wait? It always surprises me when patience wins you.

Alexi:
(Gravely)

It's been nearly twenty years since The Goddess' prophecy. She still isn't here. If hadn’t patience, my dear Headmistress, I’d have gone mad long ago.

Rebecca:

Each year the Balance further favors the restless dead we fight. Waiting so long for the Seventh, are you sure you haven’t missed her along the way?

Alexi:
(Firmly)
 
Nothing "heavenly" has been "placed in my path". And there's been no portal to the dead. Nothing of the sort. I’ve felt nothing in my heart. She has not arrived-

Rebecca:

(scoffing) Your heart. Prophecy has nothing to do with love. How many times-

Alexi:

(Sharply) How many times have I said it would? Why must you always fight me?

Rebecca:

Why must you look for prophesied love when it…

Alexi:

When it what?

Rebecca:

(Beat. Deflecting from herself) When it is all around you!

Alexi:

A bond of love is implicit in Prophecy, Rebecca, though you claim otherwise. I’ve made my life choices accordingly, difficult as that has been-

Rebecca:

No, convenient- you’ll wait for Prophecy like an arranged marriage, like one of your algebraic equations, Professor.  But I warn you, if she becomes your love affair rather than the business of the Grand Work, it’s a grave danger. Mortal hearts make mistakes. Mortal hearts are cruel, unpredictable things…

Alexi:

(Beat.) Are you finished?

Rebecca:

(Staring at him, pained, grieved.) We’d best get back to Athens, we’ve new admissions. You have students to terrify.

Alexi:

(As if he likes that idea)
So I do, Headmistress. So I do.

END OF SCENE

Follow me on Twitter @LeannaRenee where I'll be tweeting the whole experience day by day.

Stay tuned next week right here for my thoughts about this wonderful week. Already on day one we've seen amazing work from our fellow Colony writers and the staff here is THE BEST. They are truly fabulous. The wonderful reputation of Goodspeed precedes them and they do not disappoint. This is such a great thing to be in process on as the Strangely Beautiful saga is in process for it's re-release / reissue in new editions from Tor/Forge, so there's such life in this saga, and as these characters and these books are so very dear to my heart, this is surreal and incredible to see it have a different, three-dimensional life. What a lucky thing.

Cheers and happy haunting!