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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Welcome Debut Author, Leigh LaValle!

Thanks for having me here, Lady Scribes! I’d love to share with you ten valuable lessons I learned while writing my debut novel, THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, which released March 6.


10 Oh-So-Easy Steps for Crazy People:
How To Write A Novel During Your Spare Time. (In my case, naptime.)

1. Tell your friends you will see them in two years. If they would like to talk to you while you are doing the dishes, cooking dinner and/or in the shower, they need to keep their phones nearby in case you call sometime next month.

2. Schedule your next hair appointment for 2014. The same goes for mani/pedis and shopping trips. Your heroines can look fabulous. You will look like a crazy woman. Exercise, healthy food, sunshine, these things are good. Anything else gets weighed against page count and word goals.

3. When it is time to write, turn off the phone, turn off the internet, and write. If possible, go to the library. (This is especially necessary if you are working at home and your husband needs to ask you a million questions about matching baby socks and the recipe for pb+j.)

4. The time leading up to writing is your launch pad. Make use of it. Whether it is driving home from work or waiting the million hours it takes for a baby to fall asleep, focus on your story. When you last left your characters, what were they feeling? Where do you need to take them today? When it is time to sit your butt down and write, hit the ground running. (Hmm, that metaphor doesn’t exactly work, but you get what I mean ;)

5. It is not possible to do a load of laundry while also writing. I do not know why this is. I simply know it is a Law of the Universe. A load of laundry will become a million other chores and reasons why you should not just write. Don’t do it.

6. Ah, tired. It would be so nice to take a nap, especially while a baby naps. Lots of sage advice about this. It goes something like “Nap while your baby naps.” I have nothing to say, other than you cannot write a book while sleeping. It is terrible, but there it is.

7. It helps to write a bit everyday. Even if you only eke out a few hundred words, it will pay off the next day. Take three days off in a row, and when you sit down to write again it will be like you’re relearning the English language.

8. Give yourself a lot of time (it took me two years to write THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS). Writing a novel during break time is a bunch of little baby tortoise steps. Sometimes, it feels like you are going nowhere. Sometimes, this is true. It helps to set weekly word goals and stick to them. Just know what is realistic (and I’m not talking about magical realism here.) Know what you can do, do it, eat your reward cookie, get some sunshine, rinse and repeat.

9. “Some may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Elvis said that. Wait… Know that you are not alone. A lot of writers begin their career during break time. A lot of moms write their first book while balancing family responsibilities. Find other crazy people who understand. Join RWA. Chat online (just not during your writing time.) Dare to dream.

10. Just write.

What about you, Dear Reader, how do you squeeze in time to write (or read)? One lucky commented will win a digital copy of THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS!
(Winner chosen at random at 9pm EST on March 14 and will be announced in the comments section, as well as under the CONTEST WINNERS tab at the top of the page)


Thanks for joining me today! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter. Visit my website at http://www.LeighLaValle.com

Book Blurb:
Once the darling of high society, Mazie Chetwyn knows firsthand how quickly the rich and powerful turn their backs on the l
ess fortunate. Orphaned, penniless and determined to defy their ruthless whims, she joins forces with a
local highwayman who steals from the rich to give to the poor.

Then the pawn broker snitches, and Mazie is captured by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. A man who is far too handsome, far too observant…and surely as corrupt as his father once was.

Sensible, rule-driven Trent Carthwick, twelfth Earl of Radford, is certain the threat of the gallows will prompt the villagers’ beloved Angel of Kindness to reveal the highwayman’s identity. But his bewitching captive volunteers nothing—except a sultry, bewildering kiss.

And so the games begin. Trent feints, Mazie parries. He threatens, she pretends nonchalance. He cajoles, she rebuffs. Thwarted at every turn, Trent probes deep into her one vulnerability—her past. There he finds the leverage he needs and a searing truth that challenges all he believes about right and wrong.

50 comments:

  1. Welcome, Leigh! We are so pleased to have you here. The book looks fantastic - I can't wait to read it!

    As for my writing time, I am super lucky to do this full time, so I have been able to squeeze in a whole lot of writing recently! Without kids, the only distractions I have are the three mutts, the hubby, and the ever-present lure of the internet...
    Thank goodness for Mac Freedom :)

    Good luck with your debut!!

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  2. Thanks for having me here, Erin!

    I was thinking my son would be going to kindergarten next year and I would have time to write more. But, surprise!, we are expecting baby #2 in September. Looks like I will be back to the 10 step program.

    What is Mac Freedom? Does it turn off the internet? I need to look into this :)

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  3. Leigh - Thanks for joining us today! And good luck with the release!!

    My writing schedule is fairly hectic. I work a full time job and I'm a single parent of a teenage boy. The latter is less demanding in his time than he used to be, but that just makes me suspicious of what he's really getting into. :)

    I write whenever I can. I always have my laptop with me no matter where I am. At my office, it is on my desk right along side with my work computer, and during breaks or downtime, I try to get as many pages written as possible. I'm also a night owl and feel I'm my most creative sometime between 10pm and 1am. Unfortunately, I have to wake up at 5a every morning. I'm a night person stuck in a morning person's life.

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    1. OMG Ava- How do you find time to write? I am in awe of your dedication and organization. Even if a teenage boy does not need you to play Star Wars legos with him all day, there is still all the chores and events and homework...

      I am a night person as well. This Daylight savings stuff is wreaking havoc on my mornings!

      Thanks for having me here!
      Leigh

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    2. Oh wow - congrats!! And it sounds like your writing time is about to get squeezed even more, lol :)
      Yes, google Freedom app - it is the greatest thing ever. It blocks your ability to get online for whatever duration you set. The only way to override it is to restart your whole computer! I LOVE it - I'm never more productive than when I'm using it.

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    3. I'm getting it! Even as I try to be good, I swear my subconscious clicks on Safari. I'll be on twitter and wonder 'Wait, how did I get here?' lol

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  4. Welcome to Lady Scribes, Leigh. I won a copy of The Runaway Countess on Twitter and I'm in the middle of reading it. Maize and Trent's chemistry is crazy hot!!! ;)

    Twitter is a great way to find time to write. Seriously! When you have "virtual" writing get-togethers(use #sprint to find a group on Twitter) with other authors, it's really a motivator. And the cheering each other on aspect doesn't hurt either. :) I've also been known to write during carpool line, soccer and dance practices, and on the three days of the week I have no little ones at home.

    Congrats on your release, Leigh!!!

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    1. Thanks you for the welcome, Marquita! I am excited to be here. You ladies have a wonderful blog.

      I have heard that comment about Mazie and Trent's chemistry being smoldering hot a few times and it still surprises me:). It's something I worked so hard on (because it's what I love) and I'm glad it's coming through to the reader. Sometime it's hard to tell what works and what is too much.

      Another writing mom... Twitter is a great motivation, thanks for the reminder. I use to #1k1h when I need a push.

      I love stories that take place in small towns. I can't wait to read yours some day. Enjoy The Runaway Countess!

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  5. Welcome to Ladies Scribes, Leigh! And congrats on your new release...and your upcoming release, lol. A new baby, yay!
    I have a 4 year old and a 6 year old, so I too had the delusion that I would have so much extra time to write now that my older boy is in Kindergarten. Yeah. Right. If anything, I have LESS time. It's not fair to just leave my little dude all alone, so I find that there are only a few select times I can manage to get writing done. I count on my mom, who works three days a week, to take him off my hands about once a week for 1/2 a day. That's a huge help. Other than that? I write after they go to sleep. Which sucks, but has to be done.
    I just finished my first novel and it took me almost two years also. I'm hoping the next won't take nearly that long, lol!

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    1. Good morning Olivia!

      I am also hoping my next book takes less than two years! I am writing two novellas at the moment so I can get some more works out there before this baby comes. Then, I'm going to try to do as much as I can in those early months while my son is at kindergarten and the baby is still sleeping all day. I have a partial/synopsis together for the full. I fantasize I can whip out the rest in 5 months!. Um, somehow I need to learn how to write fast :)

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    2. Plus, at 4 and 6 your kids will both be in school soon. Not that we are trying to push them out of the house... just a few more hours a week to get that second book written. :)

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  6. Okay, now this is hilarious. :) Probably because I think we can all relate so well. Like Erin, I'm a full-time writer, but there are so many distractions that try to impede my progress: cats, housework, cooking, the TV, the internet, the ability to take off and go watch a movie/go shopping/take a nap. Oh, yeah...and instead of a husband asking questions about baby socks and pb+j, but I do have a father living here with his own set of interruptions.

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    1. First off, Catherine, your latest cover is gorgeous! I love the colors. Second, I am envious of you full time writers :) (And envious of all your book releases :) But, you are right, the grass is always greener... Distraction is the name of the game, no matter how much time you have in a day.

      Thanks for having me here at Lady Scribes!

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  7. you cannot write a book while sleeping. It is terrible, but there it is.

    I beg to differ. My mind writes entire sagas while I sleep. And then I conveniently forget them all when I wake up.

    No need to include me in the draw. I already have your book. Congratulations again!

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    1. Ash- lol. If only we could remember those sagas when we awoke! You make a good point, though. I bet there are some writers out there who do wake up and scribble down their dreams, then write that into their story.

      I get a lot of my ideas in the moments before I fall asleep. Usually it takes me some time to relax into dreamland once my head hits the pillow. Since I was a girl, I've spun stories about romantic heroes in order to calm my mind during that time.

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  8. Welcome, Leigh! It's so good to have you here. I love your list -- I was definitely LOLing as I read it, especially because I *should* be writing right now. Ha!

    I have a two-year-old daughter and after 9 months of being her sole caretaker (read: pulling my hair out), we decided to hire a nanny, both for my sanity and also so I could write on a more regular basis. So I get 30 hours/ week to write, in addition to all the household chores and what not. Since I have this time, I choose to be completely present with my family at all other times of the day. After all, you can never get these moments back :)

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    1. Good morning Lady Jerrica- How wonderful that you have 30 hours a week of help! Being a stay-at-home mom is way harder than I ever thought it would be. This year, with my son in pre-k three full days a week, has been awesome. I can't believe I am diving back in with another baby in the fall! Alas, I can panic later, lol.

      I'm sure you have read this, but a mom's brain really does grow, especially in the areas of multi-tasking. So, you can clean and chat on the phone, or do laundry and make dinner. Then, sit down and write, and only write :)

      I know what you mean about giving the family complete presence. I often feel guilty when I am doing something else (like compulsively checking my iPhone.)

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    2. Ha! I get the shakes if I don't check my phone often enough!! But I'm getting better…it's not easy at all! LOL!

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    3. After the craziness of my release is over I think I'm going to take a 'phone cleanse'. I'm sure the shakes will be a part of it. :)

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  9. Leigh, your book sounds wonderful to read. I like your tips on writing a book. I don't see that happen for me, because I tend to get side track on a lot of other things. However, I do like reading a good romance book. However, until we April 18th I have to squeeze most of my reading at night. It's no fun moving. Anyways, I hope that your book does well.

    countessofmar@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi Melody- Thanks for stopping by this morning! My family moved across the country last summer. It is so much work! We still haven't finished unpacking. But, then, I would much rather sit down and read a good book, or work on my next chapter, then unpack a bunch of things I forgot I even owned :) Good lucy with the move.

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  10. Another temptation...the lure of going through the grocery store without two munchkins at your heels. Don't do it. Send your hubby at 10pm at night.

    Write instead.

    Love the sound of the book. Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Beth- Yes! I love your addition to the list!

      I have to say, I'm one who drags my kid along with me to the grocery store. (Only one at this point, though. Two would be crazy.) The idea that I would give up my writing time to get groceries? Um, no. lol. I send my husband on the weekend :)

      I hope you enjoy The Runaway Countess!

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  11. As the mother of a five year old, and a writer, I totally applaud this post. Congrats on your new release!

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    1. Thanks Lily :) I'm sure you are familiar with many of these points... :)

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  12. Congrats on your book! Can't wait to read it. I am a reader, so I read when I get moments here and there. I take my kindle or book in the car, so when I am waiting for my sons to come out of school or practice I can read! I also read in bed at night. Another time I can squeeze reading in...while I am waiting for dinner to cook, I will literally stand there stirring with my nose in a book.

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    1. RhiRowland- I have burned many a dinner with my nose in a book! And I also read while waiting for appointments, or during the times my son falls asleep in his car seat. Thanks for the congrats! I hope you enjoy The Runaway Countess, wherever you are when you read it :)

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  13. Leigh,

    Welcome to Lady Scribes! I can't even imagine writing a book with a baby. I could barely string two words together, I was so tired. It is definitely a challenge to write, work, and be a mom. (Too funny on the haircut, btw. Last week I looked in the mirror and suddenly noticed my hair is down to the middle of my back. What the hey??? I'm also glad to know I'm not the only one with all the answers at home. The library is a great escape from all of those questions.)

    I wrote my first book on Wednesday afternoons while my kids were in school. At that point, it was all fun and games. After I joined my critique group, I gave up adequate sleep in favor of writing and critiquing. Now I'm happy to say I've dropped my day job hours, and I have two full days of writing each week, sorta. I also have to squeeze in appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands. Eventually, I want to write full time, I think. :)

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    1. Hi Samantha- Congrats on your debut! I have Miss Hillary's School for Scoundrels on my Kindle. In only wish the cover was in color on my device! (And what a cover it is.) I think eReaders should featured book covers more, like on the sleep screen.

      OMG, being tired with a baby, don't remind me :) I have put it out to the Universe that this new baby (coming in Sept) will be an awesome sleeper. Do you write in the mornings or at night? I am in awe of women who get up at 5am to sneak in a few morning hours. Yay for dropping hours at your day job!

      I look forward to reading your book!

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    2. Generally I'm a night owl, but if I happen to wake up early enough I sometimes write.

      I agree with you about the sleep screen on the Kindle. I'd be happy with just about any cover model sleeping on my bedside table. ;D

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  14. Congrats on your new release. It is hard to write around a baby but it can be done! Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Georgie Lee- Thanks for saying hi! I hope you enjoy The Runaway Countess. Which, by the way, features no babies :) Perhaps this was on purpose...

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  15. Yippee..... I love new authors. I guess I'm lucky- I'm single and don't have big or little peiople clamoring for my time- the little people are all grown. Just have work huffing and puffing because apparently I'm not allowed to read when I'm supposed to be on the phone with customers. Geez!

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    1. What, Sheila, your employers won't allow you to read at work? Is this slave labor :) I love finding new authors too. I think the internet, with blogs like this and Goodreads, has really improved the quality of my reading material. Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Take it one hour at a time. One half hour at a time. If that 30 minutes is all you have, sit down and focus for that half hour. No playing solitaire, no IMing with friends, no working on something else. You might be surprised by how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes of dedicated work time!

    I have greatly been looking forward to this book!

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    1. Good advice, Anna. Especially when confronted with the daunting task of writing a huge, full length novel... I hope you enjoy my debut! It was written in lots of small increments :)

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  17. Oh, this sounds like a good read! I love the back and forth. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. I'm giggling at your avatar- I'm a Kentucky girl myself!

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    2. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you get a chance to read The Runaway Countess!

      I have only lived north of the Mason Dixon line myself :)

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  18. Leigh, your book sounds intriguing! I wrote my first in the hour or two after I put the kids to bed. Funny, I think I wrote more consistently then than I do now when my time is all my own. Congrats on the release!

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    1. Aileen- I think sometimes moms need to feel like there is something else in life other than giving and giving. I know that is part of what motivates me to write- wanting to do something to be proud of for myself. :)

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  19. I leave for work at least 20-30 minutes early every day so I don't have as much traffic to deal with, and when I get to work I can sit and read before I start working and I read at lunch while I'm eating. Whenever I'm having to wait, I read a book on my iPhone as well, I love it because I can read anywhere I am.

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    1. Barbara- I would have such a hard time putting down my book for work, of all things :)

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  20. Now that my husband and I are empty nesters I have alot more time to read. I read pretty much every night.

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    1. I like to read at night too! I rarely watch TV anymore. A good book is so much better!

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    2. That has been my one major problem with being a full-time writer - after a long day, I find it hard to read sometimes like I used to. In those cases, I have the DVR set to record favorites like Biggest Loser and Big Bang Theory.
      Still, there is nothing in the world like a good book, so while I may not read for hours on end every night like I used to, I still read at least some every night :)

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  21. Congrats on the release of your book. It looks fascinating, adding to wishlist now! Love the sound of the interplay btwn the H/H.
    I admit that I sacrifice on sleep when I'm into a good book. I like to read at night when it's quiet & every1 else has gone to bed & there have been times when I've read till 6am in the morning cos I couldn't put the book down (yeah I'm 1 of those). I'm not married nor have children so I have more freedom to indulge myself.

    thumbelinda03@yahoo.com

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    1. Linda- I am one of those too! When I was in high school my mom gave up on me. She told me if she made me turn off the light I just read by flashlight and hurt my eyes. I've always stayed up too late with a good book, though I pay for it the next day. I try not to do it too often :)

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  22. Congratulations to ANNA - you're our winner for a free copy of THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS!

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  23. Anna, please send Leigh an email at leigh@leighlavalle.com so that she knows where to send your free digital copy :)

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