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Talking with Leisl Leighton

Leisl LeightonToday I’m talking with Leisl Leighton who has TODAY released her debut novel Killing Me Softly. Welcome Leisl

Thanks Bernadette. It’s so lovely to be here.

Please tell us a little about your story and what genre it is.

Killing Me Softly is a romantic suspense and is about reclusive music producer, Alexia Deningham and rock star, Daemon Flagherty. Alexia guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon and his band, it is on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.

Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behaviour.
Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows.  But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?

Can you tell us about how Killing Me Softly came about?

I was thinking one day about how songs can mean different things to different people and then I had a dream about a music producer who was having difficulty with a rock star she was working with until he heard her music. The dream wouldn’t leave me alone, so I began to write. Funnily enough, when I sat down to write Lexi’s story, it didn’t even start with the rock star at the time, but a scene in an asylum where she was visiting her identical twin sister. The story blossomed from there.

Killing Me SoftlyWhat do you love most about this story?

I love the way music is so central and personal to them and yet it’s how they relate to themselves and others. It feels very true to me. I walk around singing all the time, I even sing ‘going to bed’ songs to my sons, or ‘it’s time to get dressed now’ songs etc. Music is a massive part of my life and I love that in this story that passion of mine came out in my characters. I also love the romance between Lexi and Daemon and how they get past so much to trust themselves and each other.

Tell us more about how you come up with your ideas?

As I mentioned above, I dream my stories. Sometimes the dreams are just about a character or characters who keep coming to me and won’t let go. Other times I dream a scene over and over. And sometimes, I dream a scene that then continues the next night and the next and so on, until I have the beginning of a story. Then, as I’m writing, the rest just comes to me. I’m pretty much a pantser, which means lots of re-writing, but I’ve tried plotting and it just doesn’t work for me.

What qualities do you see as most important in a romance hero?

I think he needs to be wounded or not whole in some way that only the heroine can help him with. And he needs to have something in him that is especially for her.  He doesn’t have to be an Alpha, but needs to be strong within himself, but not so strong that he can’t be emotional and caring and listen. Listening is really important. Even if he doesn’t act on what the listening tells him or denies it at first, he is smart enough to let it sink in and eventually do something about it. And most of all, he doesn’t have to ‘rescue’ the heroine. I like a heroine who can rescue herself.

What genre/s do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?

My bookshelves are filled with fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, historical romance, YA and contemporary romance – so I’m a bit of a genre slut, sharing my likes around! I don’t have an all over favourite, but I do have favourites in each genre. My favourite fantasy author is Raymond E. Feist. Paranormal – Nalini Singh. Historical – Anne Gracie. YA – Richelle Meade. Contemporary and romantic suspense – Nora Roberts.

When and how did you get ‘the call’? How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing forever, although up until about ten years ago it was mostly scripts for theatre and cabaret with a little dabbling in writing an epic fantasy novel I intend to go back to when I figure out how to weave all the elements together properly.

Destiny LogoIn regards to how I got ‘the call’, I pitched an epic paranormal to Carol George at the RWA conference last year. I met up with Carol at a Penguin workshop in January where she passed on the novel I pitched, but kept assuring me that they really liked my writing, and the ‘no’ was because the story I’d pitched just didn’t have a strong enough romantic thread in it. She asked me if I wrote anything other than paranormal and I mentioned I used to write romantic suspense. I pitched her one I thought was most ready and she said they’d love to see it. I rushed home, spent a few weeks polishing it up and sent it to her in mid Feb. I got ‘the call’ from Sarah Fairhall a few weeks later. I was so used to getting ‘we love your writing, but don’t have a place for that story at the moment’ or something similar, that it took a few minutes for it to sink in that she was saying they wanted to publish my novel. I kept saying, ‘Really?’ and probably sounded like I was away with the fairies, although I think Sarah is used to that. It took ages to sink in, but my family and writing friends helped there, as they each threw a party for me and my husband kept buying champagne, because there seemed to be something to celebrate every second day.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

Firstly, write. Secondly, keep working on your writing – join a writing group, get a critique partner, enter competitions, read books (both in the genres you’re writing and books on writing techniques) and keep writing. Thirdly, write some more. You can’t improve if you don’t write. And fourth, don’t give up – aside from writing, perseverance is key.

What’s next for you?

More writing. Hopefully more published novels. I’m working on another romantic suspense at the moment and a paranormal series I’m excited about and there’s always that epic fantasy I first wrote that I want to get back to one day and do justice to, not to mention all the ideas floating around in my head for more stories.  I’m a writer at heart and I would love to build a career out of that sharing what I love with other people.

Thanks, Leisl, for sharing so much of yourself with us today. Look out for part 2 of Leisl’s feature where she talks about the process of naming her book ‘Killing Me Softly’.

 

You can find Leisl at http://www.leislleighton.com/  and links to her book at http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781743482612/killing-me-softly-destiny-romance

 

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Milestones

MilestonesToday my blog reached the milestone of 4000 hits. It took just over 12 months to climb to this and while I’m sure it sets no record, it’s still an amazing achievement. I’ve had a great time creating content for this blog and tried to stick with the romance theme.

Finishing line

I thought you might be interested to discover the most clicked of my 40 previous posts was The Most Romantic Dr Who which continues to get clicks on a regular basis. Next most popular was the Alpha versus Beta Heroes post.

Looking for Inspiration

 

I want to thank my readers for their continued interest and encourage you all to comment when you feel moved to do so. Here’s to reaching 10 000 hits within the next 12 months. I do love a challenge!Destiny Logo

 

 

In the coming weeks, I’ll have a series of interviews with Destiny Romance authors. I can’t wait to discover their new releases, writing lives and writing secrets. Until then…

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Author Spotlight: Mandy Magro…

Fellow Penguin Author, Mandy Magro, has just released her latest rural romance, Flame Tree Hill. Mandy talks about the qualities essential to a romance hero, her upcoming books and her writing life. Enjoy!

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Vincent Van Gogh

This post is dedicated to my father-in-law, Vincent Rowley.

Van Gogh SelfieThe story of Vincent van Gogh resonates with people today. He left a wonderful legacy in his art but his life was a mixture of genius and insanity. Many would say that true genius can be very close to insanity. Have we romanticized Vincent’s life? Possibly. The thought of an artist or writer toiling away in beautiful locations, creating their masterpieces does appeal to those of us who are so inclined. But Vincent’s life was cut short.

Van Gogh was the son of a protestant minister and his life course led him from dealing in art to Christian ministry and finally to the life of an artist. He was unlucky in love and, as is often the case, didn’t receive recognition for his creative genius until after his death.  Like most artists and writers, Vincent took an interest in those around him and in his surroundings and this inspired his art.

Another source of inspiration for Van Gogh was his brother Theo, who saw something in Vincent and encouraged his artistic endeavours. The Vincent Sunflowersworld could so easily have been deprived of Vincent’s legacy as he suffered from deep insecurity over his art, having no early artistic abilities, no training and little encouragement from his parents and society. A burning need to leave the world something of himself drove Vincent to paint and his brother financially supported him to enable a life devoted to art.

starry-nightBut Vincent couldn’t control the bomb that was ticking away in his brain- epilepsy, psychotic attacks and delusions. His behaviour was unpredictable and he required hospitalisation. There were long periods of no creativity interspersed with frantic painting where he produced a canvas each day. This was when his The Starry Night was born.

I was out at dinner recently and Don McLean’s Starry, Starry Night was playing. It’s one of my favourite songs and the idea for this blog popped into my head. McLean sings of Vincent’s art, his mental anguish, his death and his legacy.

Van Gogh ChurchThose of you who are Dr Who fans will remember the episode where the doctor and Amy travel back to Vincent’s world, discovering an alien monster which is visible to Vincent but not to them. They must battle this monster without being able to see it. The episode begins in an art gallery where the doctor is viewing a Van Gogh exhibition and sees the monster in one of Van Gogh’s paintings. He travels back in time to find it.Dr Who Vincent

Mission accomplished, the doctor and Amy decide to take Vincent forward with them to show him the exhibition of his work, hoping it will give him the will to live on. He is overwhelmed by seeing his art appreciated and speaking to the guide who pays Van Gogh a wonderful tribute. But Vincent still takes his life a short time later.

Vincent Van Gogh touched many lives and continues to do so long after his death. He lives on in his paintings, just as he wished when he was a young man. And so his life is a triumph and the beauty and tragedy of his soul continue to affect us today.

Last week, we buried my father-in-law, Vincent Rowley. Vince was taken from us too soon, by cancer. He touched many lives and fought his disease for seventeen years. He raised six sons and had thirteen grandchildren. He was a loving and faithful husband to his wife Esther. He had many friends. He helped many people. Of all things in his life, Vince cherished his family and we all miss him. We are comforted by the knowledge that our Vincent is now out of his pain and in God’s arms.

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Untamed by Anna Cowan

The latest Destiny Romance offering is Untamed by Anna Cowan. A big congratulations must go to Anna whose book has already delighted readers as the reviews demonstrate.

Untamed CoverOutspoken and opinionated, Katherine Sutherland is ill at ease amongst the fine ladies of Regency London. She is more familiar with farmers and her blunt opinions and rough manners offend polite society. Yet when she hears the scandalous rumours involving her sister and the seductive Duke of Darlington, the fiercely loyal Katherine vows to save her sister’s marriage – whatever the cost.

Intrigued by Katherine’s interference in his affairs, the manipulative Duke is soon fascinated. He engages in a daring deception and follows her back to her country home. Here, their intense connection shocks them both. But the Duke’s games have dangerous consequences, and the potential to throw both their lives into chaos…

Wildly romantic, Untamed is a passionate and beautifully written debut novel. This decadent historical romance defies convention and will shock and delight in equal measure.

‘A  strong and original voice, a unique story and characters you won’t  easily forget — this is an exciting and memorable debut. Anna Cowan is  an author to watch.  Anne Gracie 

‘One of the most mesmerizing books I’ve read this year.’ Dear Author

Utterly absorbing, beautifully written, and full of insight and humor.’ Ruthie Knox

Good luck with your debut novel, Anna.

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The Anzac Legacy

Anzac Day 2013I’m going to stray from the theme of this blog on this very special day- Anzac Day- with an examination of the modern Anzac Day and its relevance to our society.
Anzac DayTownsville MarchThe spirit of our Anzacs can be felt in all kinds of shrines and monuments but would these brave heroes approve of the country we have created? What kind of Australia were they fighting to preserve? What principles were important to the Anzacs and do these values still resonate today?

Many would say that our response to the sacrifice of the Anzacs is to appreciate and enjoy the freedom they fought to preserve. We don’t have to look far in today’s world for reminders of what our fate may have been but for the ultimate sacrifice of our forebears. But have we truly created the modern Australia that the Anzacs might have dreamed of?
Anzac Day Eternal FlameOur society is becoming increasingly secular, focussed on possessions and the almighty dollar. Homeless youth freeze on the streets and we have abandoned many of our most vulnerable citizens. Some of us don’t even speak to our children, let alone our neighbours. We struggle to manage development while preserving our unique environment. While these facts are disturbing, there is no doubt that young people of today have more opportunities in education, recreation and vocation than ever before.
One might imagine that freedom, mateship, fairness and honour were values dear to the Anzacs. Were they fighting to preserve these ideals or were they simply doing their job? Was adventure high on their list of priorities as they headed off to war?
Anzac Day- CrowdYoung Australians are making their pilgrimage to Anzac Cove in increasing numbers every year. They travel there for many reasons. Some are seeking adventure; others need to gain a better understanding of the experiences of their Anzac relatives. Still others marvel to find their history lessons come starkly to life. Are their pilgrimages critical to the evolution of the meaning of Anzac Day? Will these young people forge a link with the Anzacs and enable the commemoration to flourish for years to come?
Anzac Day PoppyIf we could speak to the Anzacs today, I think there would be a rage of responses to modern Australia. Our country is very different from the society these young men left. Their sacrifice has given us the freedom to choose and that has come with benefits and challenges. Our chosen path has led to a more prosperous society than any of our diggers could have imagined. Along with our prosperity has come a focus on ‘things’ to the detriment of our relationships. Our world sparks excitement and joy as well as fear and sadness.
It is my belief that the Anzacs would find much to be proud of in Australia today. In 2006, Richard Modderman, a student from The Gap State High School, said in his prize-winning essay, ‘A close look at the countless quiet achievers, working either as individuals or as part of a team, illustrates that Anzac characteristics are actively part of our modern day life’.

Anzac Day-Lest We ForgetThe Anzac tradition lives on in the pride of our men and women serving overseas. Australians still value their mates and their right to ‘a fair go’. While we can stand at our local cenotaph and feel the Anzac spirit in the quiet places of our hearts, their ultimate sacrifice will be remembered and honoured.

I didn’t attend a dawn service this morning but I often visit our Townsville cenotaph and relfect on the sacrifices of our soldiers and on their bravery. How do you feel about Anzac Day?

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Not to do List??

My friend Martin Morris sent me this and I thought it was worth sharing, no matter what you do for a living.

 

8 Things You Should Not Do Every Day

It’s for your own good. Cut these things out of your day and you’ll see gains in productivity–not to mention happiness.

If you get decent value from making to-do lists, you’ll get huge returns–in productivity, in improved relationships, and in your personal well-being–from adding these items to your not to-do list:

Every day, make the commitment not to:

thumbnailca9dhvem.jpg1. Check my phone while I’m talking to someone.

You’ve done it. You’ve played the, “Is that your phone? Oh, it must be mine,” game. You’ve tried the you-think-sly-but-actually-really-obvious downwards glance. You’ve done the, “Wait, let me answer this text…” thing.

Maybe you didn’t even say, “Wait.” You just stopped talking, stopped paying attention, and did it.

Want to stand out? Want to be that person everyone loves because they make you feel, when they’re talking to you, like you’re the most important person in the world?

Stop checking your phone. It doesn’t notice when you aren’t paying attention.

Other people? They notice.

And they care.

Eclipse photo2. Multitask during a meeting.

The easiest way to be the smartest person in the room is to be the person who pays the most attention to the room.

You’ll be amazed by what you can learn, both about the topic of the meeting and about the people in the meeting if you stop multitasking and start paying close attention. You’ll flush out and understand hidden agendas, you’ll spot opportunities to build bridges, and you’ll find ways to make yourself indispensable to the people who matter.

It’s easy, because you’ll be the only one trying.

And you’ll be the only one succeeding on multiple levels.

Fireworks3. Think about people who don’t make any difference in my life.

Trust me: The inhabitants of planet Kardashian  are okay without you.

But your family, your friends, your employees–all the people that really matter to you–are not. Give them your time and attention.

They’re the ones who deserve it.

imagesCAUNBIMB4. Use multiple notifications.

You don’t need to know the instant you get an email. Or a text. Or a tweet. Or anything else that pops up on your phone or computer.

If something is important enough for you to do, it’s important enough for you to do without interruptions. Focus totally on what you’re doing. Then, on a schedule you set–instead of a schedule you let everyone else set–play prairie dog and pop your head up to see what’s happening.

And then get right back to work. Focusing on what you are doing is a lot more important than focusing on other people might be doing.

They can wait. You, and what is truly important to you, cannot.

Golden Cane5. Let the past dictate the future.

Mistakes are valuable. Learn from them.

Then let them go.

Easier said than done? It all depends on your perspective. When something goes wrong, turn it into an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know–especially about yourself.

When something goes wrong for someone else, turn it into an opportunity to be gracious, forgiving, and understanding.

The past is just training. The past should definitely inform but in no way define you–unless you let it.

Clouds, Palms and Sky6. Wait until I’m sure I will succeed.

You can never feel sure you will succeed at something new, but you can always feel sure you are committed to giving something your best.

And you can always feel sure you will try again if you fail.

Stop waiting. You have a lot less to lose than you think, and everything to gain.

UP the garden path7. Talk behind someone’s back.

If only because being the focus of gossip sucks. (And so do the people who gossip.)

If you’ve talked to more than one person about something Joe is doing, wouldn’t everyone be better off if you stepped up and actually talked to Joe about it? And if it’s “not your place” to talk to Joe, it’s probably not your place to talk about Joe.

Spend your time on productive conversations. You’ll get a lot more done–and you’ll gain a lot more respect.

Tropical Garden 18. Say “yes” when I really mean “no.”

Refusing a request from colleagues, customers, or even friends is really hard. But rarely does saying no go as badly as you expect. Most people will understand, and if they don’t, should you care too much about what they think?

When you say no, at least you’ll only feel bad for a few moments. When you say yes to something you really don’t want to do you might feel bad for a long time–or at least as long as it takes you to do what you didn’t want to do in the first place

 

 

 

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Bernadette Talks

Destiny Promo PhotoI’ve been excited about the response to Dr Monique’s review of Princess Avenger. Her words really resonated with you, the reader, as proven by the number of views of Book Review-Princess Avenger. As an author, the most gratifying thing of all is connecting with your reader and hearing their impression of your words on the page. This passage of Monique’s says it all for me:Princess Avenger High Res Cover

I really enjoyed the book and became completely engrossed in the story.  I felt a connection with the characters and found myself being swept away with the emotion and passion pouring out of the pages.  I would read for chapters on end and forget where reality was, drawn into the life of the princess, feeling like I was right there next to her hiding in the dark alleyways.

I feel I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do with Princess Avenger: to entertain the reader and allow them the ultimate escape; to take them to a magical world and let their imagination do the rest. I thought you might like further insights into Princess Avenger and what writing means to me and so I’ve included the link to this Youtube video, recorded in August 2012. I hope you enjoy it.