Monthly Archives: September 2013

Happy Weekend before my Blog Tour!!!!

EEEK!!!! It’s here! Holy crap! My blog tour for “A Beautiful Mess” starts on Monday! I’m excited (and a little nervous). It’ll hopefully be great exposure for the book! So far the response has been mostly positive. The few negative reviews I’ve gotten I can’t even put much merit in as they don’t even seem to have read the book. When you start your review saying you didn’t like the dual point of view when it was written in third person, I have to question what book you actually read. Dual point of view is first person, written from two different characters’ POV. That’s certainly not this book, but I can understand how people can be easily confused when SOOOO many books these days are written in first person. That just wasn’t going to work for this book. Not when there’s a huge suspense element. Anyway, I digress. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride this past month. From publishing early, to forming a street team to help me promote my book (to being shocked that there were 50-plus girls who were so enthusiastic about my book to begin with that they wanted to help promote it), to getting on the Amazon Best Seller’s list (for like an hour, but I’ll take it!), it’s been a great experience.

I loved writing this book. I loved writing all three. (I have a special attachment to Book 2.) And you will get frustrated with the characters. You will want to scream at them. You’ll want to laugh with them, especially Kiera. You’ll want to swoon over Mr. B. (At least, most people do…) And hopefully, you can just escape your own reality for a short period of time and live in the crazy world of the characters I’ve created. And after finishing, you’ll probably be thankful for your own reality. :-)

Anyway, I haven’t blogged in a while as I’ve been tirelessly trying to prepare Book three in the series to get it ready to send to my editor (which should be in about 2 weeks). Once that’s done, I’ll have more time to bore you all with my rambling and incoherent thoughts. As of now, I’m excited as can be to be on this journey. And I’m thankful for all the friends and family who have supported me down this path.

Now, the good news! In celebration of my upcoming blog tour, the price of “A Beautiful Mess” as been reduced to just 99 PENNIES! It’s available from Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

Also, make sure you follow me on Facebook as I’ll be doing flash giveaways all weekend. Including signed paperbacks, but you’ll have to have read the book to be eligible for the big prizes. There will still be other opportunities to win signed bookmarks and other prizes even if you haven’t read the book.

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Music & Writing

A growing trend we see these days with authors is posting a playlist that goes along with their books. I’m no different. Or maybe I am. Instead of posting a playlist of songs I listened to when I wrote the book, my playlist takes the book to an entirely different level. The music in the playlist is either specifically mentioned in my book, or evokes a certain emotion that I want the reader to feel. As I write and review my books, I listen to a playlist that consists of over 100 songs that are either used in the book or inspired certain emotions or scenes throughout the Beautiful Mess series.

So that’s what I wanted to talk about today. What music inspires me and how I use music in my books. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been surrounded by music my entire life. I started playing piano almost the same time I was able to walk. I even studied music for a bit during my first four years of college. (Yes, I said first four years. You name a major, I had it…  It took me a bit to find myself.)

So when I sat down to write my book, there was no question in my mind that I needed music playing in the background. And the music really molded the story. My main character, Olivia, is a singer. As is Alexander. Olivia was dealt such a shit life that she uses music to cope with her past. She has trouble expressing her feelings and music helps her with that. And we see a little bit of that in “A Beautiful Mess.” In the second book, “A Tragic Wreck” we really start to see both characters using music to express their feelings even more. The second book is an emotional roller coaster. I let my street team read a beta version of the manuscript as a thank-you for all their hard work. And as they read, I posted the playlist so they could listen to the songs as they went. And many of them commented that it enhanced the reading experience, listening to the music used in certain chapters.

And that’s what music is. It’s emotional. It’s raw. It’s feeling. And I couldn’t imagine my life without music in it. And I hope with my playlists, I’ve been able to turn people on to new and different musicians.

A Beautiful Mess is available now at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

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A Beautiful Mess Book Trailer

Here’s the fantastic book trailer for “A Beautiful Mess.” I hope you like it. It is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo.

http://vimeo.com/74169085

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A Day in the Life…

So, I’ve been slacking on blogging lately. I published “A Beautiful Mess” 13 days ago and over the weekend it hit the Amazon Best Seller’s list for Romantic Suspense. YAY! Anyway, Last weekend, I assembled a street team to help me promote “A Beautiful Mess” as well as the sequels to the series, “A Tragic Wreck” and “Gorgeous Chaos.” And these girls ROCK MY F’IN WORLD!!!!

So I put it out to them, what kinds of things they like to read about on their favorite authors’ blogs. And one of the recurring themes was “A Day in the Life of a Busy Author.” So that’s what I’m going to talk about today. What do I do every day and how do I juggle writing, networking, promoting, and my family. Well, that’s easy… I have the greatest husband in the world!

Most mornings, I’m up before 6 AM. I check my phone, frantically trying to update my spreadsheet for my street team to give them credit for all the pimping they were doing while I was sleeping. That’s always the first thing I do. Well, once I have a coffee in my hand thanks to my wonderful husband.

Then, I design a graphic for my street team to post around the web that day. It usually has a quote from “A Beautiful Mess” on it. Sometimes it’s foreshadowing, sometimes it’s sweet, and sometimes it’s downright sexy. Today’s is sexy.

I try to get a work out in, although that sometimes gets overlooked. These past few days it’s been dry dry dry out here in Cali and I’ve been waking up with a wicked sore throat. So a humidifier is in order so that I can get back to training for my next marathon which is October 13th in Long Beach, CA. And then I have another marathon the following weekend on October 20th (MY BIRTHDAY!!!) in San Fran. That one is the Nike Women’s Marathon. I love that race. At the finish line are some of San Fran’s hottest fire fighters handing you a little Blue Box containing a Tiffany’s necklace. LOVE IT!

Anyway, I digress. I then try to get some reviewing done of Book 2. I’m almost done with my one big review / edit before handing it over to my editor. I plan on reading it through one or two more times, but the next few times will be on my iPad instead of on my laptop. I find reading on my laptop is distracting, but when I’m doing a big review with lots of changes, it makes more sense.

All day long, I’m constantly keeping up with what my street team is doing, making sure they’re not bored and that I give them things to share and pimp out, should they so choose. They are such an enthusiastic group of women and in just the week since I’ve formed a street team my numbers have improved immeasurably. I should have formed a street team far before the release of my first book. Now I know better and we can really get the word out about “A Tragic Wreck” far in advance of its release date.

The hubs normally brings me breakfast up to my writing nook. When I first started writing, I would sit in the edit bays in our house with my laptop and write and edit there while I was working on other projects. (The hubs & I own a post-production / media management company. I work as a graphic designer / executive producer / video editor / staff attorney, although I really haven’t been doing much there lately.) Now, I moved my workspace into our bedroom so that I’m not too distracted with everything else going on.

These past few days have been a bit different, as the hubs has been working on the book trailer for “A Beautiful Mess.” So I’m constantly taking breaks from reviewing to take a look at what he’s been working on. We’re sooo close to being done and let me tell you, IT LOOKS FLIPPIN AWESOME!!! CHILLS CHILLS CHILLS!

As I edit, I’m also dealing with mundane tasks such as keeping our production company’s books updated, paying bills and invoices, as well as making sure I’m paying attention to my fantastic hound puppy! I’m also dealing with sending out promotional items and signing them as well. I usually listen to a playlist for the book I’m reading at the time to really help me feel the mood and the emotions of the characters. And then I run to the bathroom, needing a box of tissues. :-(

Around three o’clock, my hubs brings me my 3PM coffee. It’s a ritual. I have two cups in the morning and one cup at 3 PM. It helps me to not be as bad as I could be. I also try to do yoga at around 2 PM. Some of my greatest ideas have come to me while on that yoga mat. It helps me clear my head of all the promotional stuff that goes along with being an independent author.

Around 5, I move from my writing nook downstairs to our living room and plop on the couch, putting on some music, and keep reading, writing, revising, and editing. After an hour or so, I’ll start cooking dinner. I try to use the crock pot as much as possible, but like Olivia in my Beautiful Mess series, I don’t eat meat. There are quite a few vegetarian crock pot recipes, but not as many as you’d like. Regardless, my favorite kitchen appliance (besides my crock pot) is my rice cooker. I can set the brown rice in there and leave it, not having to worry about it. So tonight, dinner will be salmon, brown rice, and some zucchini. Quick and easy. Which is what I like.

Most days, I unfortunately don’t get to do as much work on my book as I wish I could. The promotional side of things now takes up most of my day. I’m probably going to be looking for an intern to start helping me wrangle my street team, as well as deal with the mailing and organizing of promotional items, as well as helping me deal with the social media aspect of being an author. That way I can focus on my books a little bit more.

 

So that’s it. A day in the life of an author….

 

Thanks for reading….

 

And here’s a few little snippets from “A Beautiful Mess” – available now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble for just $.99!

 

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The Voice

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Thoughts on Teaser Tuesday

Good morning all! So it’s my first Teaser Tuesday since publishing my very first book! Yeah! I’ll get to the teaser in a minute. First, I wanted to address something I’ve seen said / posted more and more recently. As I look at different book blogs and see different postings, something has caught my eye. And that is some people, when reviewing a book, automatically deduct a star from their review if it’s part of a series…

Let’s all think about that for a minute… REALLY? So you’re no longer reviewing the plot, you’re reviewing whether there’s simply too much story for you to handle. Seems a little childish for me. And if you really don’t like waiting to see what happens next, there’s a simple solution for that… Wait until the entire series is released. Most of us try to get each book out as expeditiously as possible. And for us independent author without a big publishing house to back us, deducting a star can be the difference between someone buying our book and not.

So today, I wanted to talk a little bit about the process of writing to educate people about what actually goes into the arduous task of creating a story. First and foremost, it is not just a story. It is so much more. You’re trying to develop your characters so that the reader has an understanding of what makes them tick.  You’re also trying to write in such a way that the reader knows what the character is thinking. Can feel what they feel. Cries when they cry. Laughs when they laugh. Feels their pain when their heart was just ripped out from their body. And creating this takes time and, unfortunately, a certain number of pages.

When I sat down to right “A Beautiful Mess,” I truly thought it would be a stand-alone piece. I never in a million years would have thought it would develop into a series. So, you ask… What happened? Why is it now three books? All you authors are just greedy and that’s why you drag a story out into a series.

Well, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. My entire manuscript was written before I realized it would have to be more than one book. It totals a whopping 1500 pages. Why is it so long? Because of one thing that most authors have to constantly keep in mind… CHARACTER.

Character is what drives a story. Not the plot, but character. The plot is necessary, for obvious reasons. But what I constantly struggled with was making sure the plot was realistic in reference to the characters I had created. And because of where I wanted the story to go, I had to throw certain things at my characters. I’m not going to go too much into that right now because I don’t want to ruin the story for everyone. But there’s something that happens at the end of the second book that wouldn’t make any sense if we didn’t see the main characters struggle a little bit. So you’re forced to make them face adversity. And possibly, tear them apart. And all this takes pages.

As a reader, nothing upsets me more than reading a great story with poorly developed characters. And that’s the thing I really wanted to focus on when I started writing. I wanted my characters to be likable and believable. And I wanted my reader to be able to feel what they were feeling.

So to those of you out there who feel the need to deduct a start simply because a book is part of a series, take a minute and think about what I’ve written here. Most of us don’t want to write a series. And for me, I didn’t realize it was a series until I was practically done writing it. Everything my characters go through is necessary so that they can get to a certain place, and just maybe, get their Happily Ever After. So before you dock a star, think about how much effort the author puts into the story and the characters before deducting that star, and ask yourself if it’s necessary.

Now that my rant is over, here’s your teaser for Teaser Tuesday.

Olivia quickly raised herself off the ground, desperate to get away from Simon, and fled onto State Street. She frantically ran down the cobblestone sidewalk, crying out for someone to help her. The silence around her was deafening as fear consumed her body, her hands shaking. The normally busy street was barren, the last of the bar patrons long gone for the evening.

The clouds in the sky created an ominous feel. All of the buildings were eerily dark. Street lights dimly illuminated each corner, casting shadows on the vacant street. As she tried to find someone to help her, Olivia heard a noise coming from the direction of the night entrance and she started running again, adrenaline coursing through her entire body. She wasn’t sure where to go but she knew she didn’t want Simon to ever touch her again.

- A Beautiful Mess, T.K. Leigh.

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Why I Run….

Good morning (or afternoon) all. I’m sitting here in my room at the Disneyland Hotel, looking out the windows at a great view of the parks. I’m sort of de-compressing after running a 10K yesterday and a half marathon today as part of the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge. Those of you who know me, know that I’ve been a pretty avid runner since about 2005 when the running bug hit me. My father got me into it, as he was an avid runner. Now, me, my two sisters, and my Dad are all avid runners. And we’ve shared our love of running with countless people, including our husbands. My husband ran his first half marathon in 2011 and then his first full marathon 2012. Before then, he struggled to run a couple of miles. So I started to work with him and coach him through everything. He had it in his head that he couldn’t take any walk breaks at all. I put a stop to that, and we started to use a run-walk-run method. Typically we run for four minutes and walk a minute. At first, I thought my times would take a nose-dive. Boy was I wrong. I actually shaved almost an hour off my half marathon time, and over an hour off my full-marathon time.

In all this, we also dramatically changed our lifestyles. When I first started running, I was also in law school and working full time. Eating healthy wasn’t a top priority. My top priority was graduating at the top of my law school class (CHECK!). And training didn’t always go as planned either. I graduated law school in May of 2009 and moved out to California. My husband and I got married in July 2009. For a frame of reference, my wedding dress was a size 14. In 2011, we started to change our lifestyle. I began working out about 6 days a week. I no longer purchased processed foods. If it’s not found in the produce or refrigerated section of Sprouts (my fav. grocery store), I don’t buy it. And I still don’t, with the exception of beans and my san marzano tomatoes for the sauce. My fellow italians know what I’m talking about… :-) I would do circuit training Mondays and Wednesdays. We would run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. And a few days of the week, I would add a second workout in of yo-lates (a combination of yoga and pilates). Over the course of approximately 1 year, I dropped from a size 14 to a size 6 – that was a year ago. And since then, I’ve been simply maintaining, but defining muscle and now I’ve dropped another few sizes.

So that’s one of the BIGGEST reasons I run. To stay active and healthy and fit. But another thing about running. It gives you a great feeling of accomplishment. During races, complete strangers cheer for you as if  you’re their favorite athlete. And those people are the ones that become inspired and start training for their first 5K.

I always hear people in the starting corrals talk about what they hope to finish in. We all set goals, but sometimes you have to re-evaluate your goal for the day. That happened to me today. I was hoping to PR (runner-speak for getting a personal record), but that just wasn’t in the cards for me today. It was humid and hot and this California girl is used to DRY DRY DRY. So I decided to just have fun with it instead. Hell, I ran a 10K yesterday. And at certain points, it got rough. But then I reminded myself that there are people out there who would kill to do what I was doing at that moment. So today, who did I run for? I ran for the four thousand people who were stopped short of the finish line in Boston in April. I ran for the hundreds of people who suffered from injuries that day, some of them runners who had to have their legs amputated. I ran for the four victims of that tragedy that occurred in a city very near and dear to my heart. And part of me thinks that I’ll always be running for those people now.

So tomorrow, whether you’re a runner or not, think about doing something active. Go for a walk. Take your dog with you. Call up a friend and ask if they want to come with you. Make a habit it out of it. And think of all those people who can’t do that. Not just the victims from that tragic day in Boston, but also people who were born without the ability to walk, like my husband’s oldest son from his first marriage. Be thankful you have the ability to be active and don’t squander that opportunity. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

End of rant.

But first, here’s a photo of me at the start line today!!!!

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