Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Leanna Ellis

GETTING LOST ON THE DARKER SIDE ...with LEANNA ELLIS

Winner of the National Readers Choice Award, Leanna Ellis writes women’s fiction. Known for her quirky characters and wacky plots, Ellis probes the heart and plucks at the heartstrings. She lives deep in the heart of Texas with her husband and children and an assortment of dogs and cats, including her crazy labradoodle, aka Hilo Monster, and a new kitten, Sawyer.




Lee is a chapter mate of mine and was the first author I ever told I wanted to be a writer (way back in the 90’s). A local independent book seller and very dear friend of mine knew about my passion to be a romance author and recommended Lee’s books. She knew that Lee was a local author and convinced me to email and ask about the local chapter of Romance Writers of America.


Lee admits (see below) that she doesn’t remember the email. (LOL) But she did give me the advice that changed my life and was the first step to following my dream: I joined RWA and my local chapter. I’m going to switch things up a bit and present my GOTTA ASK segment first. It’s always a pleasure to talk with Lee and her work continues to surprise me.


ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: I read your series books back in the 90’s and read your inspirational books today. Your style has definitely grown over the years, Lee, but the book trailer for PLAIN FEAR: FORSAKEN (available on Lee’s website) looks much darker than ELVIS TAKES A BACK SEAT or RUBY’S SLIPPERS. Where did the idea come from?


LEANNA’S GOTTA ANSWER: Hey, Angi, I don’t remember that at all! I hope I was helpful. There are a lot of years from the 90s I don’t remember much about because I had newborns and not much sleep.


To answer your question on where did the dark side come from…well, I guess it’s been there for a while since I wrote that Poe-esque short story in 6th grade. When I left category romance, one of my goals was to grow my writing, so that is nice to hear you say that. To this day, I am still growing my writing and learning about myself and exploring. I loved writing ELVIS TAKES A BACK SEAT and the books through my last, FACELIFT, which were in the inspirational market, and I hope to write more of those.


I loved the humor and the first person point of view as well as the irony and the angst, and I still love all of that. But then when an idea hits, such as FORSAKEN, welll…sometimes you just have to explore that darker side. In fact, I was at a writers’ conference signing and another writer and I joked we should write an Amish/vampire story because those were the books that were selling. It was a joke. But something about that idea dug into my psyche and wouldn’t let go. Or maybe I just like a challenge. Eventually I realized for me the heart of the story was good versus evil and was very much like The Phantom of the Opera, which is one of my favorites (book and musical form). But really? Could I seriously write this? I thought and prayed about it for a long, long time, maybe 2 years. The desire to write it became stronger and stronger and I knew I had to do so.


I played around with the first chapter but still hadn’t devoted much time to it and had not ever mentioned it to my agent, although I’d told a couple of writer friends who loved the idea. I was at another writers’ conference when I heard a YA editor say, “The perfect submission right now for me would be an Amish/vampire story.” Really? I had one! Sort of. So I wrangled an appointment with that editor and pitched the idea. Then I raced to my agent and told her. She laughed! But in a good way. Thankfully, she gets my out-of-the-box ideas. So when I got home, I sent her that first chapter to see what she thought. My agent loved it. And we had several discussions about whether it should be YA or adult, and whether it should be in the inspirational market or in the secular market.


Ultimately, we decided even though my heroine was fairly young she was dealing with issues beyond the scope of YA novels. We doubted any CBA (inspirational) publisher would consider publishing it. So that’s how it started. It still has a little of my humor in it but it-s darker. And it was oh-so-much-fun to write. I’m beginning to get some feedback on it, and that is even more fun! Sorry, didn’t mean to go on so long about that but making a departure like this needs a bit of an explanation. Anyway, thanks y’all so much for having me here today!


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PLAIN FEAR: FORSAKEN
Sourcebooks
ISBN: 978-1402255403




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THE Q&A
ANGI: How often to you get lost in a story?
LEANNA: Hi, Angi! Thanks for having me here! I love the name of this blog because I can so easily get lost in a story. Whether that’s at night, curled up in a chair with a book or my iPad or sitting in a local coffee shop with my laptop open and my fingers poised over the keypad, I love stories. I love to read and write and even watch stories unfold on the big screen.



ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading?
LEANNA: I remember a little kitten book, a Golden book, with kittens named Bitsy and Betsy as being one of the first books I remember. When I was older, I remember loving Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which was one of the first chapter books I read to my kids. I also remember Charlotte’s Web along with all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. When I was sick one time, my mom read Little Women to me. I’ve loved sharing all those wonderful stories with my children and discovering even more wonderful stories with them.


ANGI: What’s your favorite “love” word?
LEANNA: God.


ANGI: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
LEANNA: My mom has always been one of my heroes, and I’ve had the blessing of knowing many folks who have amazed me with their ability to handle difficult situations and rise above them. My friend Alan who struggled and fought a brain tumor was one. Another is a friend who is a recent widow with two kids, and she amazes me at how she is handling things with honesty and grace. Heroes, I’ve learned, are all around us. All we have to do is get to know one another and learn each other’s stories.


ANGI: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
LEANNA: It’s always hard for me to name one that is my favorite fairy tale, because just as soon as I name one, say Cinderella (and all the out-of-the-box renderings) then I think of Sleeping Beauty and what I like about that story and then another (Hansel and Gretel), and another (The Ugly Duckling) and another (Beauty and the Beast! How could I forget that one?) comes to mind. Too many to choose from!


ANGI: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
LEANNA: I’m not a big cartoon fan. Does Tramp from Lady and the Tramp count? What is it about bad boys?


ANGI: What turns you off like nothing else?
LEANNA: Folks being mean. Really. Is that called for?


ANGI: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
LEANNA: Try Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis. ;)


ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
LEANNA: Not often enough. There’s a point in my writing of a book that I can’t read other authors’ books or it affects my writing. But I love to read. In fact, when I go on vacation, that’s pretty much all I want to do: lay in a hammock with a gorgeous view of the ocean and read, read, read. When home, I love to curl up in our ‘library’, aptly named because of all the books stuffing the shelves, and read.


ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
LEANNA: My daughter singing.


ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
LEANNA: Can we combine them? *grin*


ANGI: What was the first story you remember writing?
LEANNA: It’s funny that you ask this. Recently, my mom gave me a huge box that held some of my schoolwork. My kids loved looking through all of my tests and papers, deciding that their math is much harder than what I did at their age. And they’re right. They also compared what they’re learning in Latin to what I learned in high school, and I think they knew more. The best part was that I found the horrible poem I wrote in the third grade and had to read aloud to the class, which kept me from writing or attempting to write poetry for years and years and years. But I also found a short story I wrote in 6th grade and have remembered all these years (and believe me that’s a LONG time) because it was based on a study we were doing about Poe. It was a lot of fun to reread that story. My kids said, “Mom! You had a dark side!” Yep. Still do apparently.


ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
LEANNA: Oh that is a really tough question. Too many to choose from, and I probably change depending on what mood I’m in. I love the quirky humor of When Harry Met Sally. Yes! Yes! YES! I love the sweeping beauty of Dances with Wolves. I love The Sixth Sense, although no one will watch it with me at my house. I love Witness, Casino Royale, The Fugitive, and A Few Good Men, which is brilliantly written. Obviously, I’m eclectic in my tastes and barely scratching the surface of some of my favorites. Oh! And I love musicals: Singing in the Rain, Chicago, Chorus Line, Phantom of the Opera, etc… I’m like this with books too! And I’m a huge LOST fan.


ANGI: Who’s your favorite villain?
LEANNA: Oooh, great question. I like villains who are complex and surprising and garner my sympathy. One of all time favorite villains is the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera.


ANGI: Be honest, when reading...do you put yourself in the heroine’s role?
LEANNA: Sometimes, but she’s usually so much smarter than I am. But then she gets editing as she goes along. I have to wing it.


ANGI: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
LEANNA: Story-telling, because you have the immediate reaction from your audience to know if you’re going on too long, if they’re hanging on the edge of their seats, and if you get a laugh. Writing is rewriting, or so said someone smarter than me, and it’s very true. Putting those first words on the blank page is difficult for me. I much prefer the editing.




LEANNA will give away a copy of Forsaken to a commenter.
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. If an electronic Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Question for today: Do you read authors who write for multiple genres?

YOU CAN FIND LEANNA on her Website; contact her via email at leanna@leannaellis.com; on Facebook; or follow her on Twitter.



DON’T FORGET to LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter for daily updates on who’s “Getting Lost.” Come back tomorrow when Donnell interviews Barbara Monajem. ~Angi


18 comments:

  1. Leanna, you are the prime example of what goes around comes around. You can't even remember that you inspired Angi, and yet you did. So pleased that good things have happened for you and that your agent gets your out of the box thinking. And for the record, I love your answer to what is love. That brought tears to my eyes.

    Thanks for being with us on Get Lost in a Story.

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  2. Hey, Donnell (and everyone)! It's great to be here today! So glad that answer spoke to you! Don't you love how God will reach out and speak to us when we least expect it? Blessings, Leanna

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  3. Leanna, I really enjoyed reading this interview and I am so glad that you are willing to "think out of the box" sometimes. I love finding out a little more about how you think. I tend to like to read many genres as long as they are clean and wholesome. Thank you for fulfilling that type of reading material. I must say that of all of the authors that I enjoy reading, your work is the most unpredictable and I love that!
    Thanks!
    Emma Bedford

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  4. I read all types of books. Please enter me in the drawing. Angela from KY
    angelac@mchsi.com

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  5. Thanks so much, Emma! I love that my writing is unpredictable! Awesome! Always appreciate your encouragement and support!

    Hi, Angela! I think there are a bunch of folks like us that like variety. This book is definitely different. ;) Thanks for chiming in!

    Blessings, Leanna

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  6. Thanks for coming, Leanna!

    I recently saw Mr. Poppers Penguins with my 10-y-o nephew and thought it was adorable and good fun. I didn't realize until after that it had been a book.

    Love your answer re fairy tales vs action adventure. Especially since, um, my two released book are exactly that. Action adventure stories loosely based on fairy tales. :)

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  7. Welcome, Leanna!

    What a fascinating idea... and that cover draws me right in. This looks great!

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  8. Hi Leanna,

    If I like an author and she writes in different genres, I will try them all. I usually end up preferring one genre over others, though. For instance, I prefer Julie Garwood's historicals to her contemporaries. I don't believe she writes historicals anymore. I also much prefer Amanda Quick to Jayne Ann Krentz.

    Not sure how helpful that was. Lol!

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  9. Yes I do read authors that write several Genres, although I usually prefer one better then the others. I read a little of everything but prefer historicals and contemporys. I am not much into the paranormal but do read a few of those also.

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  10. Hi, Maureen! Oh, yes, I loved Mr. Popper's Penguins and my kids loved it when I read it to them. It was one of the first chapter books I read to them. I haven't made it to the movie yet but want to see it and compare book to movie. :) Best wishes on your books! Blessings, Leanna

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  11. Hi, Simone! Didn't Sourcebooks do a great job on the cover? I was so delighted with it! Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy the book! Blessings, Leanna

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  12. Virginia, I totally understand what you mean. I know authors that write contemporary and historical and even though I might like both the author often seems more at home in one or the other and it somehow comes through in their voice. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings, Leanna

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  13. As a multiple-genre reader I absolutely read books from authors who write in several genres. I have to admit it doesn't work for all authors but for those who does it's a great thing. Part of how I discover new genres was from reading an author's backlist which may cover man genres. Usually I end up liking all their works but sometimes if I try a book and don't like their voice in a certain genre then I will pass on it. I think if author do write in different genre it's important that they bring the feel of the time and place in addition to a good story line.

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  14. Hi, Na! Great thoughts. As an author who has been writing for 20 years, which still feels unbelievable to me, I understand why authors might try different genres. So many authors, like me, love to read a lot of different things. And being creative, we like to try new things. And sometimes that means a new genre. Or sometimes the market dictates that authors change. For a while historicals weren't selling so many authors began writing contemporary. And now historicals are selling well again. So to stay published, an author has to be flexible. But sometimes, a story comes to us, like Forsaken came to me, and it's out of my normal genre but it's a story I have to write. Thanks for your thoughts and also for trying your favorite authors in their creative endeavors. ;)

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  15. I will tend to follow an author I love down pretty much any path they walk...unless they start changing the content in a way that crosses lines for ME. I followed one author for a very long time, but when he started adding elements of the story that were too far over the edge for me (morally), I kinda trailed off. :(

    This story looks very interesting...haha...gotta admit it!!

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  16. Hi Leanna,

    I enjoy reading multiple genres by the same author, as long as she can keep me hooked to the story :) Nothing else matters to me.. I change my reading tastes with the season (or it changes itself LOL) and i read pretty much everything from erotica to sweet, from historical to paranormal!

    Your book sounds fab and I'll be checking it out :)

    (I dunno if the giveaway is valid for Canada. If not, please don't include me for that! If yes, my email id : judimello AT gmail DOT com)

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  17. My apologies for not being a good hostess, Leanna. We left town and I fully expected to have Internet access. Very limited...I couldn't post any comments to blogs from my phone.

    I'm so sorry i wasn't here to welcome you and thank you for sharing your time with us.

    Best of luck with this new series!
    ~Angi

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  18. CONGRATULATIONS ANGELA
    You are the winner (chosen by RANDOM.ORG) of Leanna Ellis’ FORSAKEN.
    Shoot email to GetLostInAStory@gmail.com with your information and I’ll put you in contact with Leanna.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog and we hope you’ll be back soon to check out more of your favorite authors.

    ~Angi

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