July 12, 2016

Dear Lady Who Cursed At Me Outside Barnes & Noble Today

Dear lady who cursed at me outside Barnes & Noble today,

I feel as though I owe you an apology. I pissed you off. I stopped in front of the entrance to Barnes & Noble, blocking you from making a left into the parking lot. I know that. I do. I was ashamed of that fact before you drew close enough to yell. Perhaps you missed this, seeing as how you were the second of two blocked vehicles, and seeing as how I made you wait at least three extra minutes before you could make your turn, but I felt bad. So bad, in fact, I frantically mouthed "I'm sorry" to the driver of the car in front of you, who in turn waved and made a "no biggie" gesture. Perhaps, had you been first in line and seen my apology, I wouldn't have ruined your day.

You see, I feel bad. I stopped in a wonky way due to the big wreck at the intersection ahead of us. Maybe the flashing lights of the police car and firetruck got in my eyes and distracted me, or maybe the car in front of me simply didn't pull up as far as I expected him to. Either way, my blocking the entrance to the Barnes & Noble angered you deeply, and for that I am sorry.

I feel especially bad for the fact that your anger was so real. So visceral. I hate to think I could have made anyone feel that way. Plus, it appears you were late for something. Were you late for getting coffee from the Starbucks inside the bookstore? Or rather, based on your window being down on a 90 degree morning, was I making you late for the appointment to fix the air in your massive SUV? Either way, I'm guessing I was having a better morning than you. In fact, after you yelled at me, and after I comforted my eight-year-old daughter who was in the back seat with her best friend on their way to soccer camp, after her eyes filled with tears and she said, "Why did that lady yell at you, Mommy? What did you do?"my day got better. My next twenty-five minutes were filled with music and laughter as those same two little girls sang "Uptown Funk" at the tops of their lungs. We'll be okay, thanks for asking.

But back to you. You poor thing, bless your heart. Your air conditioner was possibly broken on a hot South Carolina morning. You were maybe late for an appointment. And there I was, blocking the entrance to Barnes & Noble, ruining your day.

One thing, though. You yelled, "You can't block the fucking intersection, you bitch." I take issue with one part of that. I wasn't, in fact, blocking an intersection. I was blocking the entrance to a shopping center. The intersection, as I mentioned earlier, was blocked by a fairly serious car wreck. Perhaps you didn't notice that. Maybe you were too stressed out.

Here's another thing, though. I'm not really a bitch. I didn't follow you into the parking lot to yell back at you (though I easily could have), and really, I wish you all the best. Like I said, it looked like you were having a rough day; I hope it improved after you vented to me. 

Oh. And here's the last thing you should know. You see, I'm a writer, and I can't always control the origins of my inspiration. Often, people and places in my life appear in my writing in all sorts of interesting ways. And let's be honest - you didn't make the best impression on me, in our three seconds of shared Earth. In fact, you hurt my feelings. I don't speak to people that way - ever - so it shocks me when people speak to me that way. You got under my skin enough that I'm still thinking of you, an hour later.

So it's likely you're going to appear somewhere, in something I write in the future. Based on our interaction, your portrayal is not likely to be a kind one. I write horror, and science fiction. I've recently watched a handful of interesting movies like Mad Max: Fury Road. I can already see a version of you, wanting to come out to play. In this version, you live in an arid, desert landscape. Your flesh, ample though it clearly was in real life, is drying out. Puckered. Scaly. Your hair falls out in sticky, stringy clumps. The beads of sweat collected on your lip in the comparatively balmy Charleston summer has taken on a milky tinge, and now that milky sweat coats your entire body. It creates sores where your skin folds over itself, sores so infected, so painful, they're like hot pokers digging into the flesh beneath your breasts. Your unshaven armpits. You smell of fish left too long in the sun, calling to the wake of vultures circling overhead. 

Or maybe you live in a world of the undead. Maybe it's time for me to revisit the zombies I love. Maybe, in this world, you and I? We're friends. Maybe we go way back to our idyllic childhoods in the northeast. Maybe we're on the run, together. But here's the thing with this picture: I'm smaller than you. I'm faster. I'm in such good shape it drives you crazy; you're jealous of my strong legs, my conditioned heart. 

Maybe, in this world, we're both starving. Maybe we're both tired from living on the run for so long. Maybe we're starting to fight.

Here's where things get ugly. Remember that I'm faster than you, okay? Maybe you drive us (our car still works in this scenario, our big, black, un-air-conditioned diesel-guzzling SUV) into a hotbed of zombie activity. Maybe you claim to have heard of a cache of food and weapons deep in the heart of the Charleston peninsula, and maybe things maybe won't end so well for you. Maybe the SUV finally runs out of gas, and we have to run for it, trying to escape the sagging-skin, torn-and-tattered, rotten-as-corpses zombies that are hot on our heels. Maybe you planned it this way, so you could finally leave me behind.

But as I said, I'm faster than you. I can run for hours if I need to. 

And all I'll hear, as I escape the zombie-horde, is the power of your lungs (so loud, they were, when they shouted at me this morning), as teeth bite into your ample, willing flesh, and you become a feast for the undead.

Again, I'm sorry about all this. I truly am. Bless your heart, you had no idea you were yelling at a writer this morning, did you? You had no idea you could be immortalized in my next story, an exaggerated, bastardized version of yourself that you may not recognize, but will exist in eternity nonetheless. I'm sorry for what I will do to you in the future, and again, I'm so sorry for blocking that silly entrance to Barnes & Noble. I'm sure I ruined your morning. I'll try not to do it again.

All the best, and lots of good wishes for a non-fictional future,

Leah

June 15, 2016

Definitely Not Heartless

My favorite refrain throughout my writing career has been: the best part of being a writer has been meeting such cool people!

It's still true! Nothing is changing! Despite the chaos of our world, there is still love and happiness, if only you know where to look. And there are cool people...everywhere. 

Here's one. 

My little friend Ari came down to see me on her birthday, when I had my signing at Blue Bicycle Books two weeks ago.

Her dad just emailed me these two pictures, drawn by sweet Ari and inspired by HEARTLESS (and by the incredible cover art by Magie Serpica). Let me say - this is by far the coolest fan art I've ever seen.

Thank you, Ari, for the amazing pictures!! I ADORE them! YOU are most certainly NOT HEARTLESS!! 

I think Magie would agree - this is a fabulous heart!

Look! It's Jolene Hall! I LOVE THIS!

May 26, 2016

On the kindness of friends

It's been a crazy few weeks, to say the least.

HEARTLESS launched, making it's tiny ripples in a VERY large pond. People bought it. Friends read it. Friends told me how much they loved it. Friends told me it made them cry.

I had my first Barnes & Noble event. Friends came out to support me. Some brought flowers; others brought wine.

Have I mentioned I have the best friends?

This week found me going to the coolest indie bookstore in the area, Blue Bicycle Books. I was nervous...again. Worried...again. Would anyone show up? Would my promises of cake and wine bring in some customers to buy books?

Why'd I ever worry? 

Have I mentioned I have the best friends?

It started with my friend Teri. "Who's doing your cake?" she asked. "Do you need help?"

Teri is a phenomenal cake artist. She makes gorgeous wedding and birthday cakes in the area. She can take a theme and run with it, molding beautiful details out of fondant or modeling chocolate, creating entire worlds out of a single cake. 

We talked for a bit, and she offered to make a 3-D heart to go on top of the cake I planned on purchasing (because the Publix near me makes incredibly delicious cakes, too!). I'd have been stupid to say no! I knew she'd create something amazing. 

What I didn't know was exactly how amazing it could be!

Look at this heart! Isn't it perfect?


It went atop a yummy cake, and was the centerpiece of the night!

Have I mentioned I have the most talented friends?

Here's Teri's info, if you ever need something...amazing. 

Then, the day of the event, Charles handed me a gift from a friend of ours. This is a guy who's been so incredibly supportive of my crazy writing dreams from day one, and this little keyring perfectly exemplifies him: sweet and lovely and wildly creative. Who'd have thunk? Thanks, Eddie - this started my day with such a huge smile, and such a warm hug!


 Have I mentioned I have the kindest, most caring friends? 

The event at Blue Bicycle Books turned out...so cool! I drank wine and ate cake with friends and strangers alike. I chatted with people who'd never heard of me, with people who had and wanted my book, and I got to hug a little girl who loves my stories. Thank you so much to everyone who came out or who made my day so special. I could not do this crazy writing thing without you. And thank you to Jonathan Sanchez and his staff at Blue Bicycle. You guys made me feel so welcome and happy, especially with your window display! It was the COOLEST!

Here are some photos from the night. I hope you enjoy!

(P.S. I of course forgot to take my own pics. Thus I have none with my mom nor my husband.  Again. DORK!)

Coolest. Window. Display. EVER!

This sweet girl has read all my zombie books.
Her dad drove her to 2 hours the event because
it was her birthday and he thought she'd love it.
She did. I was blown away! What a night!

Photo bombers, plus a bestie who not only
came to the event, but took my kiddo
out to play so she wouldn't drive me nuts!

Stabby Zoe, plus HEARTLESS

Here I go with the faces again!
Stabby Leah

Always so great to meet internet friends in the wild!! 

May 16, 2016

Thoughts on Releasing Book Four

Hi friends! Happy Monday!

Today is May 16th. My HEARTLESS has been live for about a week, and what a week it's been! I've hardly had time to breathe, let alone do all the promotion necessary for a successful release, so let's chat a little today.

First...the week.

Last week was...insane. Super-crazy. First my parents agreed to help out a neighbor. They live in the country, and their neighbor raises sheep. One of their sheep had given birth, but wouldn't take care of the lamb. She had no milk, see, nor apparently any maternal instincts at all. The lamb had been left to die in their field, but they wanted to help it live. Only problem? They were going out of town for a week. 

My parents agreed to help bottle-raise a lamb, and thus Hannibal entered our lives, looking like this:

Hannibal and Zoe: Perfect Together
So skinny, so ragged. This was the first time he ever stood up!
Bottle-feeding a lamb is no joke, though. They're like newborn babies, needing constant attention, food, and clean-up. I wound up driving to my parents' house almost every day to help keep him fed, which was a much-needed distraction from the chaos of release week, but was a lot of work. Still, by yesterday, he was healthy and happy and ready to re-join his flock. The little cutie.

Nom nom nom
Then my washing machine died...so I had to bring laundry to my parents' house to do while hanging out with a needy sheep. That was fun. 

My brother came in on Tuesday (aka RELEASE DAY!!!!) to help me celebrate! That was amazing, but for some reason I'm stupid and didn't get a picture of us together! DUR!

Barnes & Noble was pretty incredible! I had a bunch of friends and family show up, and I even had a decent hair day! Thank you so much to everyone who came out, and to everyone who bought a book! I'm happy to say that there were only two copies of HEARTLESS left when I was finished that night!

Here are the weirdo faces I made while at Barnes & Noble last Tuesday night. Feel free to make fun of me. 
Yeah, I don't know what the heck I was thinking!


Barnes & Noble was barely over before suddenly it was Zoe's birthday. Do I know how to fill up a week or what? She turned 8 last Thursday, and we had a small gathering of some of her soccer pals at our house. During said gathering...Zoe took a soccer ball to the face, and a freezer door to the head, and wound up with a mild concussion. Which of course added some stress to the week! 

But what can you do? I'm a mom, first and foremost, and birthdays and concussions certainly take precedence over book self-promo!!!

All this is to say that I've been failing at plugging my book and begging people to buy it. But that's not too much of a bad thing - I figure you all must get tired of me begging people to buy my books anyway.

That brings us to...

Second...releasing book four...

So. It's easy to forget that HEARTLESS is actually the fourth book I've released. I forget this all the time, because this is my "debut" YA novel, and it's hardcover, and it's actually showing up in some bookstores, which is exciting and cool. But I've released books before! Three of them, actually!

And for all of them...I SUCK at self-promo! I hate it! I really do!

But I LOVE going places to talk about these books! I LOVE meeting potential readers, and telling them what my books have in store. I LOVE talking about writing process, the publishing world, and my random experiences within those realms. 

That said, if you have a classroom, library, book club, ANYTHING, where you'd like to have me come hang out and talk books/publishing/writing, give a yell! Email or comment or find me on Facebook. I LOVE doing it! I can go to local places in person, and Skype and FaceTime open possibilities for remote visits as well! I don't charge for this stuff (many authors do), and just love meeting new friends! 

I do hope to make it to the tri-state area sometime in June or July, too, so stay tuned for further info!

And finally. Finally.

I ask so much of you, my friends and family and readers. I do need to keep asking, though. Because now that HEARTLESS is out in the world, I need to build some momentum behind it. I need to keep the ball rolling. I need dozens of other cliches!

So!

And remember - this goes for ANY and ALL books you love, not just those written by me!!!

If you love a book, help the author further their career. This doesn't mean you have to buy ten copies of said book (although that's always helpful). You can do FREE things to help them out! You can TELL A FRIEND about how much you enjoyed their book. You can GIVE FRIENDS GIFT CARDS TO GO BUY BOOKS THEY LOVE!

And, most importantly perhaps...you can leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble. This helps tremendously. People read reviews before they buy products. Amazon pretty much requires reviews to allow you to sell your books. The more reviews you have (good or bad, it doesn't matter), the more Amazon will help you promote your stuff.

To help YOU find where to leave your reviews, here are some helpful links to MY books. If you want to review other books, I hope you're internet-savvy enough to find those books, too! But trust me - if you review a book, the author somewhere thanks you! So much!

So here are links for reviews. Thank you in advance for considering leaving one for HEARTLESS!


Seriously. I wouldn't be here without all of you and the kind things you've already done for me. I wouldn't be here without the backing of an amazing publisher, and friends and family. From my whole heart (the part left over after getting stolen by a silly little lamb last week), I thank you. SO much!

May 10, 2016

Release Day! HEARTLESS is LIVE!!!

The theme song for today is: It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To!

But only because I fell down the stairs at 5 a.m. and scared myself and cried. But I'm fine! Really I am!

Better than fine, in fact! Because IT'S RELEASE DAY FOR HEARTLESS! IT'S RELEASE DAY FOR HEARTLESS! AND I'M SO EXCITED I COULD....

CRY!

Hahahahahaha

I am nothing if not prone to emotional outbursts. But you probably already knew that about me, huh? I'm so excited today, and thankful! So thankful! To my husband, Charles, and my daughter, Zoe. To my parents and my brother and all my other friends and family who've supported this journey! To YOU, my reader-friends! And especially to my publisher, Jason Pinter at Polis Books, who fell in love with this book and brought it here, to you, today! I can't thank any of you enough. Like, EVER!

So. HEARTLESS! Yes! It's out! Here's where you can find it!





You can request it at your local library or your local independent bookseller, too! I'm sure they'll be excited to carry it!

If you happen to be in Charleston tonight, you can come to the Barnes & Noble in West Ashley for my official Launch Event! I'll be reading from HEARLTESS and taking questions and in general being bubbly and excited! Plus my big brother will be there!!!

Other upcoming events:

The Heartless Launch Party at Blue Bicycle Books in downtown Charleston on May 24th! There will be WINE AND CAKE!! My two favorite things!!!!!

Piccolo Fiction at Charleston Music Hall in downtown Charleston on June 4th!! This will also be the release party for Grady Hendrix's MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM, which promises to be AWESOME!

I hope to see you at one or more of these events, so we can hang out, have a drink, and talk books! I'm nerdy that way, what can I say! I love books!

And, PLEASE remember...the best way you can support ANY author is to leave a review of their books on Amazon! Good or bad, every review helps!!! I mean that wholeheartedly!!!!! So please! Review your favorite books today!

And come on out to celebrate HEARTLESS with me!!!!!! I can't promise I won't cry, but I can promise I'll hug you! I'm SUCH a hugger!!!