So please help me welcome today’s
GL: When did you decide to write with intention of publication and what keeps you motivated?
JL: I’ve sort of always had the “itch” but it was kind of vague. It was a “maybe someday if I get some time or win the lottery” kind of thinking. I’m a very practical person from a very practical family, and writing just seemed, well, impractical.
It was really a little over a year ago that I’d had enough of the wishy-washy thoughts of a writing career. I finally gave myself permission to just do it. And that permission was key for me. Luckily about that time I had this niggling idea about shape-shifting dragons that just kept getting bigger and bigger, better and better, so I jumped in.
I’m actually motivated (and not a little intimidated) by the number of other aspiring authors that I’ve met on-line and by a critique partner that constantly requests new chapters. The blogging community really is amazing. The sharing of ideas, thoughts, expertise and experiences has been huge in maintaining the motivation and the desire to keep on learning and keep on producing.
GL: I totally agree! So, what do you like to read when you’re not writing furiously or visiting my blog obsessively? (What? Don’t give me that look – everyone visits my blog obsessively…*sighs* Okay, fine, maybe not. But they will someday.)
JL: I’m a voracious reader. I seriously average a book a day. I got an Amazon Kindle a few weeks ago and I’ve already downloaded over 45 books (and I’ve already read 43 of them!). My debit card hates me, but man, I’m loving it. I read romance in all its many forms—contemporary, historical, suspense, you name it, I’ll read it. Right now I’m on a Paranormal kick, and have been for about three years, so anything having to do with fangs, fur, faeries (and of course, romance) is great for me. There are also a whole bunch of authors who are on my auto-buy list that I pick up the minute their books hit the shelves. The top five favorites are Nora Roberts (a.k.a. J.D. Robb), Jayne Ann Krentz (a.k.a. Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle), Elizabeth Lowell, Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon (a.k.a. Kinley MacGregor). It’s also not unheard of for me to pick up a selection of fantasy, mystery, and urban fantasy/horror. Lately I’ve been consuming a vast array of Young Adult Romance and Young Adult Paranormal Romance since that’s what I’m aspiring to write.
GL: Whoa! Next time I visit the Windy City I’d love to steal your collection. No, I said see your collection. I’d like to see it. (Steal it.) What? No, you’re hearing things. Back to the questions. *clears throat* Being as though you have such an eclectic taste in books, what drew you to writing Paranormal YA?
JL: I’m too afraid to write a sex scene.
Okay, that’s not totally true. The honest answer is I’m not entirely sure why I write YA. It’s strange—everything I’ve ever tried to write, going back to the half-finished novel I wrote in study hall my senior year of high school has been geared towards YA and included paranormal elements (magic, aliens, fantastical creatures). Beyond a random thought here and there it’s never really occurred to me to write anything else. Which I’ll admit is a little odd—I didn’t read much YA when I was at the target age (I started reading adult romances when I was 11 and never looked back). I’ve read more YA in the last two years than I did between the ages of 12 and 22.
GL: Can you tell us a little about your Work-In-Progress? What’s it about?
JL: The easy answer is that it’s about teenagers who turn into dragons who fall in love. The more detailed answer is (this is my brief back-cover-esque synopsis):
Lacey Bradley wanted nothing more than to be a normal teenager. Unfortunately, a mysterious illness has always kept her a step apart from her peers. When she and her parents move to a small town in Northern Minnesota, she's prepared for the close scrutiny she receives. What she's not prepared for is her almost miraculous recovery and increasing strength and stamina. Nor is she prepared for the Drakes--a family surrounded by a mystery of their own. And they seem to know more about Lacey than she does herself.
Scarred by a childhood trauma, Duncan Drake does his best to stay calm and reserved. He knows from experience the tragic consequences of a loss of control for someone of his nature. There's something about the new girl, however, that shakes his resolve. Like he and his family, Lacey is Drakon--a human who, due to the right combination of genetics and magic, can shape shift into a dragon. The only thing is, no female Drakon have been born in over 200 years, and the fact that Lacey exists at all could lead to a war that would destroy both the human and Drakon worlds.
There are essentially two themes that I’m trying to convey: the first is about accepting and embracing all sides of oneself—one will never be truly powerful or successful until they accept who (and what) they truly are, and the second is about cooperation and teamwork—anything can be accomplished, any monster can be defeated, if people work together to get it done. And, I guess there’s the third that all romances have, which is something along the lines of “love conquers all.”
GL: Wow, J. Leigh, that sounds FAN-tastic! Get it? It’s a play on words because today’s post is called…uh, never mind. Your blog, Stories of the Drakon, has a ton of awesome information for writers on your blog. What’s the best piece of advice or lesson-learned that you can share with us?
JL: For me, the absolute best piece of advice (the most helpful for me in particular) I’ve gotten was at a recent Romance Writers of America conference, and was given by author Cherry Adair. It’s called WTFITPOTS, which translates to “What the F*** Is the Point of This Scene.” Every scene or chapter should have a purpose or goal, whether it’s to introduce a main character’s back-story, drop a clue about a bigger mystery, move the plot forward, or make the character relatable and likable, etc. Unfortunately, I tend to be a very wordy writer (bet you couldn’t tell!) and I want to include EVERYTHING in a chapter or scene. And it often takes me a long time to get to the point. Now, before I write any scene, I sort of make a list of bullet points on what exactly I want to come out of this scene—I don’t outline; I’m not nearly that organized—then, when I’ve finished the scene, I can make sure that all of my bullets are included and anything extra I’ll look at and decide whether it’s necessary or just extra fluff that I added. It’s actually helped a lot. (Sorry for swearing....)
GL: Oh, you YA writers. There’s nothing wrong with a good string of colorful swear words (or steamy hot sex scenes with an alpha warrior). Besides, it’s not considered swearing if you replace letters with asterisks, but your apology was cute. I digress. Okay, last, but not certainly not least, I think everyone here would like to know who your favorite pre-published Paranormal Romance author is.
JL: Me! [points finger at J. Leigh and then drags it across throat] No, I meant to say Gina Leigh Maxwell, of course! (It’s the middle name, I always get us confused.) ;)
GL: Oh my gosh, I'm so touched! You're a total sweetie. And our middle name is pretty awesome. Thanks so much, J. Leigh, I hope you had as much fun with this as I did.
You can learn more about J. Leigh’s book and her progress on her blog, along with tons of posts with helpful information she learns via books, college courses (she shares her assignments and the teacher’s feedback, which is like taking the class yourself only without the stress or bill!), and writers’ conferences. She’s a veritable font of information with very to-the-point posts that don’t tend to suck a lot of your time. (Don’t you just hate long-winded bloggers who don’t know when to shut up? Wait. Fark.)
So do yourself a favor – follow this link, click on the Follow button, and add her to your blog roll. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back! Well, you know what I mean.
Have a great weekend everyone! Until next week…you stay classy blogosphere!
(Aaaaand, we’re clear! Good job everyone.)