Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Writers in their own words

I was recently invited to join The Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit, which is a group of 20 or so women (hence the "Girlfriend" in the title) writers who take turns "touring" each other's books on their blogs. I was flattered to be asked to join and think it's yet another great opportunity for writers to support and learn from one another all thanks to the wonders of the internet.

Today's guest is Deborah Leblanc whose new book is MORBID CURIOSITY.


It seemed like the answer to Haley’s prayers. The most popular girl in her high school promised Haley that her life would change forever if only she performed certain dark rituals. And if Haley can convince her twin sister to participate, their power will double. Together they will be able to summon mystical entities they never dared dream of. But these are powerful, uncontrollable forces, forces that can kill—forces that demand to be fed . . .


“One of the best new voices of supernatural thrillers!”
--Cemetery Dance

“It’s now official: Deborah LeBlanc has become a master not only of good spooky stories, but also of crafting great characters to fill them!”
--Horror Fiction Review

“An imaginative chiller. Riveting!”
--Publishers Weekly

“Ms. LeBlanc’s tale is a powerful, gripping read, with an ever increasing intensity that forces you to the end without laying the novel aside.”
--Who Dunnit


Deborah LeBlanc is an award-winning author from Lafayette, Louisiana. She is also a business owner, a licensed death scene investigator, and an active member of two national paranormal investigation teams. Deborah’s unique experiences, enthusiasm, and high-energy level make her a much sought after speaker at writers’ conferences across the nation. She also takes her passion for literacy and a powerful ability to motivate to high schools around the country.

She is the president of the Horror Writers Association, president of the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana, and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Women Writers, and International Thriller Writers Inc. In 2004, she created the LeBlanc Literacy Challenge, an annual, national campaign designed to encourage more people to read. Her most recent novels are: FAMILY INHERITANCE, GRAVE INTENT, A HOUSE DIVIDED, and MORBID CURIOSITY. Deborah’s next release, WATER WITCH, is scheduled to be on bookstore shelves in August ’08. For more information on Deborah or the Literacy Challenge, visit

I had the chance to ask Deborah a few questions about her book and writing . . .

1.)How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?

Definitely character driven.
Morbid Curiosity is about a set of sixteen-year-old twin girls whose lives are turned upside down after their father dies and their mother is committed to a hospital after she attempts suicide. Without parents, the girls are eventually shipped off to Mississippi to live with grandparents they hardly know, and it’s there they decide to take control of their lives by way of Chaos Magic. The one thing they don’t count on conjuring up, though, is their own death sentence.

The inspiration for this story came while I was doing research on shamans for another book. I found a link on a website marked ‘sigils’, and curiosity sent me clicking away. The information I discovered on sigils and Chaos Magic blew me away. The intense measures that many practitioners (most of them teens) use to ‘charge’ and ‘feed’ their sigils is nothing short of horrifying. Some claim to have gone so far as committing murder. I couldn’t NOT do a story on that.

2.)Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite character wound up being Buck Thurston. He’s a feisty old fart, who has a heart the size of Montana. It just takes him most of the book to realize it.

3.)What's your writing process/writing environment like?

My process is pretty simple. I get an idea for a story, start asking a lot of ‘what if’ questions, then invite the characters who are supposed to be involved in the story to come along. As for my writing environment, think organized chaos. I usually have stacks of papers everywhere, along with sticky notes, research articles, half-filled coffee mugs, a week-old bottle of water, and a box of toothpicks. The toothpicks are for chewing when I get stuck on a scene. J

4.)What's your favorite part of writing?

Finishing the book!

5.)What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

There are two actually—1. “Just write the story, dammit!” 2. “Read, read, read—write, write, write—and never give up!”

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's Been a Year . . .

There are so many ways to view that phrase, so many different inflections. For me, this week, it's been a full year of being a published author. Whew. Pretty amazing. I had all sorts of dreams and hopes and wonderings for what the first day, week, month, year would be like.

Here's a brief summary: 2 TV interviews, 1 radio interview, 1 podcast. 5 literary festivals. 18 book club chats, 11 bookstore appearances, 8 visits with high school creative writing classes, 3 conventions/luncheons with organizations, 1 four-week class taught. 1 trip to NYC. I've made drop-in visits and signed copies of my book at bookstores in 10 states.

But those statistics don't begin to tell the story. I don't even know if I can put it into words (kinda scary as a writer to say that). A year ago I hadn't yet discovered blogs, let alone thought I'd ever have one. A year ago I hadn't yet experienced walking into a bookstore and not only seeing my book on display, but having employees saying (before I'd introduced myself), "Hey, it's the author!" And year ago I hadn't met most of the fabulous writers I now consider friends.

I hadn't heard from mothers and fathers who'd experienced what I'd only imagined. I hadn't known they'd show me pictures of their children and the organ donors who'd received life-saving organs from those same children. And I hadn't yet hugged those moms and cried with them as they thanked me for putting into words what they couldn't. In a radio interview the other day, the co-host asked me if I felt "like a success" and if so, how. I told her the biggest thrill, bigger than signing a contract for my manuscript, bigger than seeing my book in stores, was hearing from readers all across the country. Readers who read my book, connected with it and took the time to write me and tell me. And that's the truth. Knowing that my words resonated to someone I've never met, except through my characters, is success beyond any measure.

I remember when my oldest son turned one, and I looked back over his first year. He'd gone from a four and a half pound preemie to an almost-eighteen pound almost-toddler who could run and climb and laugh and who'd stolen my heart from the first second. I was stunned to think that a year earlier I hadn't know him, hadn't been a mom, and now, for the rest of my life I would. And it was this same oldest son (now 21), who insisted last summer that he didn't want one of the complimentary copies of my book, no, he and his brother wanted to walk into a bookstore, plunk down their own money and buy it themselves. And, mention to the clerk that their mom had written it. (Yes, I cried.) And now, looking over the first year of my book's life, I feel some of the same awe I felt with him. A year ago, I didn't yet see myself as an author. Now I do.

And, I have to say, as unprofessional or unsophisticated as this might sound: cool beans, hot damn, it totally rocks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


and Lisa have both honored me with a Blogger Reflection Award. The award “should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy… of knowing them and being blessed by them.”

I'm incredibly flattered, especially considering the other fine company with whom I was listed. I've gotten to know and appreciate both of these women through the wonders of the blogosphere and as much as some people decry what technology has wrought on the world (and I'm sometimes right there with the decriers), I love the friendships I've developed with both Kristen and Lisa (and many others who'll be named posthaste). Now, I'm supposed to list 5 bloggers whom I think deserve this award and display a special logo.

Here's where the trouble begins.

First, I just spent twenty-&#@* plus minutes trying to upload (or download? Maybe that's my problem) the jpeg file. I kept getting error messages, or worse, the happy "DONE" sign and then when I'd try to preview my post there'd be nothing. My reaction didn't show much reflection or godliness (I can already feel the blogger award police coming to take it away). So, I gave up.

Second, I can't pick just 5. I have 9 blogs I want to name. Now, 5 of my 9 have already gotten this award, but even for someone like me who didn't progress past Algebra Two (and I pretty much gave up in there when the teacher introduced imaginary numbers. Please. I have enough trouble with the real ones, thank you very much) that only leaves 4 so I still wouldn't be playing by the rules. So, I'm going to name all 9 with a short reason why.

The Good Girls Kill for Money Club
was the first "writing" blog I visited. I'd met Tasha, one of the writers at a conference and she befriended me (the free wine helped). She welcomed me into the blogging world as have her other four co-horts. I'm having lunch with Laura next week.

Melanie Lynne Hauser was also at that same conference, and although she wasn't there for the wine, we became buddies anyway. She not only encouraged me to blog, she helped me navigate myspace. She's a sweetie and her blog always make me smile.

The Debutante Ball and Kristy Kiernan (who's the brains behind the site) is a great blog and they are incredibly generous about promoting other writers. It's through them that I met the next few bloggers.

Larramie has a wonderful site all about discovery. She's thoughtful, generous and has more good ideas than the old Sears Wishbook. She's a true friend of writers and I love her for that!

Therese Fowler
is one of the smartest, most thoughtful writers out there (and I'd think that even if we didn't have the same publishing house!). Her posts about writing always send me back to my own pages with new ideas or a fresh approach.

The women at The Writers' Group are funny and wise and are my virtual morning coffee break. I have a hunch when we meet we won't stop talking and laughing for days.

Another blog I've come to look forward to is run by the ladies who make up The Jungle Red Writers. Their weekly posts are like eavesdropping on a discussion of women you're dying to be sitting with.

And finally to Kristen and Lisa, who nominated me--I so admire your dedication to your craft and to your families (not necessarily in that order!). You have welcomed me into the blogging world and make it seem much warmer.

Thanks to all of you for your insight, your generosity of spirit and for making me laugh. I salute you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

So, I'm new to this whole blogosphere world (I started in March of this year) and I'd see people being tagged with memes and think, huh, how do I get to play? (I still don't know what "meme" means, by the way.) And then, a few weeks ago Therese Fowler tagged me with a meme about goals for the year. And I kept meaning to set some. Then, before I had a chance I got tagged three times in a 24 hour period. Yikes. I'm way behind now (but sorta feel like one of the popular kids).

The first tag is from Kristen and asks me to come up with 8 interesting facts about myself. You'll all get to be the judge of how interesting they are . . .

First, the rules:
1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

Now, the facts:
1.) I've always wanted to sing in a bar band. Not because I can sing, mind you, but because it looks fun.

2.) Perhaps connected to #1, I love to sing when I'm driving. I belt it out with the best of them.

3.) Sappy commercials and country songs make me cry. I'm a complete wimp when it comes to treacly.

4.) I'm related (on my mom's side) to the only person ever convicted (not just charged, mind you) of cannibalism. (No, it wasn't the Donner Party.)

5.) When I was three days old I had to have major surgery to correct a congenital intestinal blockage. At the time, they did not give general anesthesia to infants because they didn't think infants felt pain (they just sorta strapped me down, I believe). I also had to have IVs in my ankles because my wrists were too small. I still have one-inch scars on each ankle.

6.) I was born on Easter. My birthday has never been on Easter since then. My son was also born on Easter--but he's had several Easter birthdays.

7.) I started sleeping on my stomach when I was 6 because I heard on the news about a woman who was stabbed in her bed. I figured if I slept on my stomach I'd have a chance to fight off a murderer if he got into my room. It's still the only way I can fall asleep.

8.) I've never read any of the Harry Potter books.

Okay, now's where I'm supposed to tag 8 people but since this meme has been around I think everyone I'd tag has already played. (If you haven't been and want to play, shoot me an e-mail). As to the other memes, give me a day or two. I promise I'll be back.

Monday, July 9, 2007

For Your Reading Pleasure . . .

Ellen Baker and her fabulous debut novel KEEPING THE HOUSE recently kept me from doing too many things I should have been doing, but I loved every minute of it. In these pages you'll meet the Mickelsons--a sad, fascinating, resilient family. Their story spans from the late 1890s to 1950 and it's full of family secrets and regrets and characters you'll carry around with you long after the final line. Ellen does a wonderful job of wrapping things up with some of the edges neatly hemmed and others still ragged. And in Dolly, who, through exploring the mystery of the Mickelsons also finds herself, you'll meet a main character who's just perfect--in that imperfect, flawed way that is so human.

This was one of those books where I was torn because I wanted to race through it to find everything out but kept slowing down to savor my time with these characters who came to feel like friends. I promise--you'll love it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Howling at the moon

I have a dog who howls at sirens. It's very sweet and hearkens from somewhere long ago in his ancestry. I asked the vet about it; I was worried it meant the noise hurt his ears, and while we live in Mayberry, our house is on one of the main streets and we have our share of fire trucks roaring past. Our vet assured me it wasn't caused by pain, but rather, when Ernie (our dog) hears sirens, he thinks it's another dog somewhere looking for his pack. So Ernie howls to try to call him home. It's fun to watch. He'll usually be sprawled on his back in a deep sleep (I mean, he spends at least 20 hours a day snoozing) but when a siren sounds, he jumps up. (We joke that he resembles George Bush at a press conference at that moment of startling.) And then, it's as if he goes into a trance of sorts--he tips his head up (to open his throat, I guess) and howls. It's mournful, it's eerie, it's a sound that comes from his toes and from thousands of years ago. And then, he looks around as if to see if we noticed. And I wonder if he ever feels sad that the dog he was calling home never arrives. But he'll do it again, every time. He can't help it.

Sometimes, I feel like Ernie, howling away, wondering if anyone hears. As a writer, much of what I do is very solitary. I write, never sure anyone else will ever read my words, much less come home to them. I send blog posts out into the ether and am more tickled than I probably should be when someone leaves a comment. It means we've connected in some way. But, like my dog and his howling, writing is in my blood, in my bones. I don't have a choice to not write, to not howl out and hope I'm heard. In reading a variety of blogs, I don't think I'm alone in this wondering. Books are released to much fanfare (or not). We earn out our advances (or not). We garner scads of reviews (or not). But what it's really about, at least for me, is to wake up and check my e-mail, like I did this morning, and open a letter from a reader who just finished my book. And who said it made her love reading again. And in tears, I write her back. I howled, she heard me. As writers, that's a power we all have. Sometimes I think that's all we can do. Let out a howl. See who answers.