Saturday, May 27, 2017

Exclusive Perilous Prophecy Excerpts, Book Launches, Events and more!

Darlings!

Under one month away until PERILOUS PROPHECY, the Prism Award winning prequel to my acclaimed STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL saga with Tor Books! This book is lyrical and mythical, following the beleaguered and dangerous paths of The Guard, a secret band of spectral arbiters tasked with bringing Prophecy to bear in 1867 Cairo and London. Shifting between mortal and the Whisper-world of the dead, ancient vendettas come to bear in an eerie, gaslit age.

Read Exclusive Excerpts posted by THE BOOK SMUGGLERS

STEAMPUNK CAVALIERS

FANTASTY CAFE

And Now for the LAUNCH PARTIES!
JUNE 20TH, 7PM CINCINNATI, OH, STREETS OF WEST CHESTER BARNES AND NOBLE
I return to my Cincinnati Hometown Barnes and Noble on June 20th, release day, at 7pm for a reading, discussion and signing!

COME TO MY BOOK EVENTS AND BUY MY BOOK FOR MY BIRTHDAY! Release week falls on my Birthday so if you want to get me a birthday present, supporting my new book is everything I could ever ask for! If you can't make it to an event, don't worry, WORD BOOKSTORES in Brooklyn is doing signed, personalized pre-orders that will ship release day!! Order by June 18th and they'll go right out, please note any personalization requests in the notes section of the order. You're supporting a great local bookstore that is very active in the community and this very important release all in one!

JUNE 24TH - PORTLAND, OR - THE HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY CONFERENCE is open to the public for a book signing and events!

JUNE 27TH, 6:30-8:30PM, NEW YORK, NY, THE MORRIS-JUMEL MANSION - Signing, discussion and fashion presentation by Wormwood and Gall!

Hope to see you there!

Cheers, Blessings and Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

You are Cordially Invited to the Wedding of Natalie Stewart and Jonathon Whitby, Lord Denbury


Hello, Dear Readers.
It was recently brought to my attention that I, tragically, failed to include a wedding scene for dear Miss Natalie Stewart and her dashing Lord Denbury at the end of the Magic Most Foul saga, The Double Life of Incorporate Things. It isn’t that I forgot this particular detail, it’s just that I was introducing, in the end of the novel, Miss Clara Templeton and the threads that would then be picked up in my most recent books, my Eterna Files saga. While my focus was then onto the next adventure, I assure you it was not for any lack of love for these two brave young people. It is also true that the two of them are private people, not ones for show, so pulling back this curtain on them didn’t feel at the time like the right thing to do. Now, they seem more willing.
Thanks to the clever Camille and Layla, who wrote to me on this topic, and included their thoughts and opinions, ideas I have tried my best to incorporate herein. And so, without further ado, I present to you the missing scene from the end of Natalie’s story, and before the events of The Eterna Files. This special extended scene is especially for you, Camille and Layla.

You are Cordially Invited to the Wedding of Natalie Stewart and Jonathon Whitby, Lord Denbury

The Manhattan morning was bright and clear, so different from the grey days of the recent horrors Natalie Stewart and her fiancé had endured. The weather was a good sign, Natalie thought, staring out past the long oval mirror she stood before, gazing at the window sill of the church’s bridal suite where a little flurry of motion drew her eye.
A song sparrow had alit, ducking under the pane of golden stained glass that had been opened at an angle to allow a bit of air through on this fine day. It trilled at Natalie, puffing out speckled brown and beige feathers, and Natalie could not help but gasp slightly at this small, beautiful visitor, beaming the creature a smile. A second auspicious omen.
She wanted to reach out her hand, to see if this magical little being would deign to take to her finger, but she refrained. While the action would have heralded fairytales of old, such an encounter would be unnatural, and Natalie had experienced plenty of the unnatural in her past many months and returning to nature’s order was her greatest hope. The bird continued singing, Natalie it's patient audience, until it heard other chirping responses from winged compatriots and it turned to fly away.  The little creature vanished into the flowering bushes outside Immanuel Lutheran Church, on the east side of Manhattan; the sacred space where Natalie had grown up, searching for the long lost bond of her mother, and frequenting any place her spirit may live on. Life was full of fragile little birds, souls flitting in and out again.
“All ready, dear?” came a gentle British accent from the other side of the door. “The guests are all assembled. It’s time, love.”
“Yes…” Natalie turned to the door, calling. “Come in here a moment, Lavinia, if you would?”
The door opened and a red-headed girl, eyes wide and glistening with excitement, swept in, closing it behind her from any prying eyes. Natalie's dear friend, her only remaining peer, had dressed in all purple, an elegant but simple gown in head to toe satin, purple being the only color she might ever be seen in outside of her Gothic black, so it was for the best that this was Natalie’s favorite color, grateful that her theatrical counterpart was so willing to take a secondary role today.
“Darling you look stunning! How may I be of service?”
“Just take a moment with me please?” Natalie didn’t realize how nervous she was until she heard her own faltering voice.
“Of course, oh, and you’ve not affixed your veil yet, dear,” Lavinia cooed.
                They looked into the mirror together, drinking in the image of Natalie in a beautiful ivory lace gown, with that beloved rich purple of hers, accented in ribbon trim along graceful lines, the ribbons gathering in bunches, attached with silvery thread and weaving into floral patterns among small seed-pearls, little bouquets around the bodice line, The deep, royal purple swaths then trailed down the back of the gown, gathering in a high bustle fashioned into a beautiful bouquet of purple satin roses, tumbling down to a graceful train.
                Her dark auburn hair was up in a bun that Lavinia had woven into looping braids at the beginning of the morning, pulling down a few loose strands to frame her face. “You must be winsome, my dear,” her friend had said while putting in pins, “while you’re a sensible, forthright woman, you’re not severe, we can’t have everything pinned back like a schoolmarm. Let's see some of that passion of yours.” The women had laughed and embraced, these sweet moments all the sweeter for the hardships they had so recently endured. Standing side by side at the brink of death, surrounded by death, witnessing it, and being helped from the other side, it made them comrades in arms, sisters in the gravest of battles. Every relationship around them was stronger for their holding onto life and hope, treasuring chosen family as more precious than any sum of money.  
                Lavinia now tended to those winsome locks around her friend’s face. “Your green eyes are  otherworldly in this light,” she said. “A match to Jonathon's piercing gaze. You are the picture of a lady, worthy of her lord; the beautiful Cinderella marrying her Prince,” Lavinia stated. “And now the crown.” She reached into the box filled with violet-scented tissue paper, withdrawing an ivory tulle veil with a pearl-studded tiara whose comb would nestle into the braids Lavinia had earlier affixed. She set the veil in place and folded it over her friend, kissing her cheek on the other side the transparent layer.
                “Thank you,” Natalie managed in a murmur, a flutter of nerves getting the better of her. “I am so grateful for your help. For you. For being here.”
                “Evelyn Northe would have been in here with us,” Lavinia added, “mother-hen to us all, but I think she’s been too busy looking after Jonathon, and your father, tending to their spirits.”
                “She is our guide, our Northe star indeed,” Natalie said. “Our motley and unexpected family is grand, is it not?”
“Oh, how it is! And while I am jealous, of course, as my Nathaniel hasn’t the slightest idea of proposing,” Lavinia scowled. “You mustn’t ever mind me, this is your day.”
Natalie laughed. “He’ll come around, just you wait. And if he doesn’t, why, you’ve all of New York City to explore.”
“Indeed!” Lavinia exclaimed. “Come, we mustn’t keep the guests waiting.” The redhead bent to place the dainty satin slippers before her friend, as Natalie lifted up the voluminous layers of her gown. “Step in, my princess.”
Her shoes, accented in the same colors, came to a graceful point, but the slippers were comfortable, as she didn’t want to go tumbling down a church aisle. While Natalie appreciated finery, sensibility was always first. Her corset beneath her layers was likely laced too tight for sense, but that was also likely her nerves pressing against the whalebone. Her figure was shapely and that’s all she could ask for. She let herself take a good look, and a deep breath.
She did look every bit the princess, in a gown far fancier than she could have ever afforded without Evelyn’s help, benefactor and fairy godmother incarnate. The same fine tailor that had done up her purple evening gown when she first met Nathaniel Veil outdid themselves on this masterpiece. 
“Well, here goes…” Natalie murmured, hoping her voice would remain with her. Lavinia escorted her to the foyer that had been emptied of guests in preparation for the procession.
The wide wooden church doors closed, Lavinia deposited Natalie with her father and went to join Nathaniel through the side aisle, moving quietly and away from view.
“My girl, you are the picture of loveliness,” her father said, dressed in his finest black suit with a white cravat, tears in his eyes. Missing her mother went unspoken, she took up such a huge part of their hearts that needed no explanation.
Jonathan and she had agreed to keep the event small, private, intimate. Neither of them was much for show, they had proven to one another that they existed for meaning. When the doors were opened for her by an elder of the church, an elderly German smiling at her and murmuring how proud Helen Stewart would be, may she rest in peace, Natalie held onto her father’s hand as he held out his arm for her, steadying their mutual nerves on one another. Both were the introverted sort, this kind of display made Natalie queasy. But it was for Jonathon. For him, for his love, she would suffer a thousand discomforts to prove her heart.
They’d forgone a large procession, they didn’t have the family to fulfill the roles nor the desire for the spectacle. Their wedding party, one beloved friend each, a fellow couple who had stood with them at death's door. Lavinia and her partner Nathaniel would step up to support them at the altar.
When asked what music she’d like, Natalie had thought only of her mother, and what she would have wanted to hear. Much like Jonathon, Natalie loved all music, no matter the genre, but her mother had loved Bach most of all, and her father had raised her with a sensibility that made the composer quite sacred. So once Natalie was in view, the first notes of a sweet and simple Bach cantata, on violin and piano, made Natalie feel like she could float forward to her love.  
Jonathon Whitby, Lord Denbury, stepped into view as the music started, the small audience stood and Natalie felt faint at the look of him. The slight mist of her veil could not filter out his supreme, exquisite beauty. His ice-blue eyes stole her breath as they always did; in an ever-changing world, that was one constant.
His beautiful mop of black hair, as wild as it ever was, a visual representation of his passionate heart, was kempt enough to be tucked behind his ears, and it made Natalie’s fingers itch to run through it and muss it all up in a ravenous kiss.
His frock coat was nearly black, the fabric was rich, with an iridescent quality and as a shaft of light came through, it carried an undertone of purple in an elegant glow. Natalie felt quite sure Evelyn Northe must have advised him as to the accents, for the deep plum cravat he wore exactly matched the accents on her dress. What a good mother she’d been to them, helping this all come together.
That, or perhaps Jonathon had snuck a peek of the dress when it had arrived at Evelyn’s house, courtesy of her favorite tailor. That would be like him, trying to get everything right, trying to make sure all her details were attended to. Looking at him, she fell in love with him all over again, a sickening, wonderful, beautiful tumble all the way down the aisle as she moved slowly, her father beaming at her side.
Reverend Blessing, in his finest church robes sporting embroidered doves, his deep brown skin a contrast to his huge white-toothed smile, offered the kind of expression that was so full of love and grace Natalie could see the holy spirit shining through as if it were a lamp within him. The holiest and best of clergymen she knew, a man who had saved their lives and believed them when only Evelyn Northe did, was an Episcopal priest and not Lutheran, but the church didn’t mind, and the denominations were in full communion. The two would have had no other man marry them than Blessing, who had prayed with them in their direst need.    
When she reached the altar, nodding her head to the Reverend, her hands leapt out in front of her, reaching for Jonathon, and his hands met hers, both of them warm and trembling with excitement and nerves. Gingerly he lifted the veil and let it fall behind the pearl crown, murmuring breathlessly how beautiful she was. Natalie bit her lip and blushed. He would, she knew, always have that effect, and she rejoiced in it. Her happiness in that moment managed just slightly to edge out her nerves.  
Neither of them were souls of the stage, that was their friends, Nathaniel and Lavinia, who stood as sentries on either side as their wedding party. Nathaniel had thankfully not upstaged the groom and was dressed in the simplest black frock coat she’d ever seen him in. However he was already crying, the dear, over-dramatic soul.
When the vows began, Natalie had to take deep breaths, her history of Selective Mutism would forever haunt her, making language in times of pressure difficult, but looking at Jonathon, the whole reason she’d been able to speak again, the words flowed. They were words, after all, for him, and her undying love.
"I do" went by in a haze. All was said, agreed to, promised, and finally when Jonathon moved in to kiss her and there was a polite applause, she felt all the fear and tension she’d kept held within her since the beginning of the terrors that followed them fall away.
When they turned to the joyous crowd, Natalie first looked at her father, then Evelyn. Beautiful and elegant Evelyn in a champagne silk gown, the picture of ageless grace and the woman who had become more to both Jonathon and her than either of them could quantify, mother and mentor, guardian and guide, her heart swelled. But then joy tumbled again a moment, like that little sparrow from the window sill if it flew into a harsh wind. She ached as she thought who else should be standing there. 
  Maggie should have been there too. Lost, misguided, brave, redeemed, recently departed Maggie. Natalie's sensibilities were flooded with a flush of guilt and sadness, over how all of it had ended. But as if to reassure her, the ghost of a young woman, radiant in transparent white, wafted through the wall of the church, floating below a stained glass window of martyred saints. Maggie. She had come after all.
Maggie's spirit blew a kiss towards Natalie, and Jonathon, shook her head as if saying not to worry, and floated to the back of the chapel, where Natalie noticed other ghosts, in a flash of light, now appeared like angels, a floating, luminous host.
Her mother.  
Lady Denbury.
Natalie squeezed Jonathon’s hand harder. He turned to look, gasped at the sight of the attended mothers and instinctively wrapped his arm around the waist of his newly pronounced wife.
Lord Denbury led the new Lady Denbury down the aisle and out to the front of the church, where there was rice and embraces, flower petals, cheers and congratulations. And of course they were bid kiss, again. And they kissed when they weren’t bid. No one stopped them. They were finally free to be as openly in love as they’d been nearly from the moment they met, when the impossible became possible and two souls collided against one another in a burst of color and light.
To the dazed glee of love, they lost themselves, and Natalie found that everything was aglow, a happy sense of floating, at last, with no weary cares. As if she were as feather-light as the ghosts around them that had served not as haunts but guardian angels.
She didn’t and wouldn’t let go of Jonathon’s hand and thankfully no one asked her to. He certainly didn’t let go, in fact, his arm was around her waist as often as it could be, fingertips brushing and grazing and wandering to the bare skin of her cheek, her neck, up her arm, causing delightful shudders amidst the hazy glow of feeling like everything was, at last, well. Solved. Settled. And would be, happily ever after and all that.
For all Natalie felt like she’d lived through an Edgar Allan Poe tale, now she was living the end of a magical, sweeping love story, a romance like she could never have dreamed, a love she thought never could have been found, and for this change of genre, from horror to happiness. If one were to tell her story, she thought, let it be this, and nothing more. 

(The end)
(BUT these characters live on into the future, in other works…)
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             Please note, dear readers:  For those who love these characters, they do appear as co-stars and in many cameo appearances in my Eterna Files series, a dark, gritty, X-Files sort of tale that takes place two years after the events of Magic Most Foul 
To answer another question, there is a child of this marriage, Evelyn Helen Whitby, and yes I will be writing about her in books to come, in the future. As all my worlds are parallel worlds, thankfully I don’t have to let go of any of these dear souls, who so have their hooks in me.
Please come visit me in the Eterna Files and Strangely Beautiful worlds, where familiar faces collide and the dark allure of the ghostly, Victorian Gothic still reigns supreme.
Cheers, blessings and happy haunting!
Leanna

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Upon the Occasion of my Joining the Historical Novel Society: The Musings of a Reincarnate Victorian


Photo by C. Johnstone
Hello, dear reader,

If you know me and my work, some of this musing will be familiar to you and I invite you to pull up your usual chair. If you are new to my work, I welcome you into my parlor and please do avail yourself to a cup of hot tea.  As we count down to the Historical Novel Society conference in Portland, OR this June, I’m pleased to take part in an event celebrating HNS, and discussing why I joined.

Sometimes a writer finds a genre and sometimes it finds you. For me, writing historical fiction was a habit since the age of 12, when I began my first novel, set in 1888 and I never looked forward... While that particular labor of love thankfully never saw the light of day, as childhood manuscripts give way to higher education and better craft, my love of the 1800s only burrowed deeper in my soul. My inexplicable draw to the Victorian era could only be likened to the inescapable pull of a past life. Nothing else quite makes sense.

I did not romanticize the era, though I thought of it as a distant home. Devouring countless novels written by 19th century authors, I understood the difficult plight of women as second-class citizens, how it was impossible for nearly any marginalized group to have their voices heard or needs met. Through a sense of pain and stalwart determination, I felt I knew the era deeply, its dress, its spirit, its language and the ways of its sooty cities, even though I grew up in rural Ohio. The complex, maddening, gritty, grand, unjust, innovative, brutal, beautiful, awe-inspiring, devastating 19th century sounded in me like an old familiar tune, and what can one hope to do but put that haunting melody onto paper?

I could not begin my stories, however, without one key element. The paranormal. What was my dear Victoriana without a good ghost story or freakish twist? In my mind those elements had always been entwined. With my sense of the 19th century came the surety that it was unrepentantly haunted. Credit Dickens, Henry James, Poe, the Brontes and Mary Shelley, as well as my own understanding of the era’s preoccupations.

The 19th century was a time of great loss. Death was all too common by countless diseases that medicine tried and failed to cure. While the industrial revolution changed everything at a breakneck pace, medicine was trying desperately to keep up. An expansive, holistic death culture and obsession with contacting the deceased was a part of everyday life. With a finger on a Victorian pulse, their obsessions became mine and I entwined elements of the paranormal and the fantastical with all my tales. I write in a realistic 19th century world in which paranormal things happen. History is at the core, and is the precedent and the foundation.

I went to school for theatre with a focus study in the Victorian era, received a scholarship to travel to London for research, trained and performed extensively in classical theatre around the country, publishing small pieces, all while researching, developing and revising what would become my debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. My debut at its sequel is now reissued as Strangely Beautiful from Tor Books, with its prequel releasing this June, Perilous Prophecy, right during the HNS conference!

When first drafting, I didn’t consider that I’d crossed-genres, I wasn’t aware that when published one could ascribe any number of genre tags to the bulk of my work; Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Young/New Adult, Suspense/Thriller and most of all Gothic. I wasn’t aware that in jumping shelves for my next series, to YA and then to SciFi/Fantasy, that it would mean starting over a bit each time, even though my trajectory as a Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy author has remained the same. While it may be hard for audiences to keep finding me, I am blessed when they do. I have some of the most earnest, interesting and creative readers any author could ask for. It is places like HNS that help audiences find their authors, and I’m so very, very grateful that they include those of us who don’t write strict Historical-only work in their ranks. HNS has created a safe space for all the ways in which writers encompass a love of history. History is the core, all else follows.

I join writers’ organizations to commune with other like minds.  I’d long meant to join the Historical Novel Society, and when my dear friend Elizabeth K. Mahon (Author of ScandalousWomen and HNS Board member) reminded me that not only had my novels been reviewed favorably by the HNS magazine, but that the organization is filled with my kind of people, I couldn’t delay further. Portland will be my first HNS conference and I dearly look forward to seeing old friends and new there.

I know my sense of ‘belonging’ to a specific era will be shared by countless other writers, who belong to any number of other eras; a club of old souls making their way in a modern world. It is a strange and straining sense, to belong to more than one century. It is a wistfulness that at times can be almost painful. Other writers drawn to be a cipher of a distinct time in history will understand that old, beautiful ache. I look forward to reminiscing with you, through the power of our old souls writing modern fiction. We need community to build broader audiences, through each other and what we’ve felt called to write. I'm grateful HNS is one.

For those attending, I hope I see you at my panels on Friday and also, look for me at a table filled with shiny, pretty, neo-Victorian things like you'll see on my Etsy! One of my other passions and jobs is as a creator and curator of Gothic, Steampunk and Victorian-styled jewelry, as well as author-themed brooches, pins and necklaces. Stop by and procure a one of a kind treasure! I also hope I'll see you all at the book signing to celebrate our love of books. I can't wait to connect with kindred spirits.

Keep channeling your centuries, friends, and I hope you'll enjoy mine.

Leanna Renee
Latest novel: Eterna & Omega
(Think X-files meets Penny Dreadful)
Second in the Eterna Files series of Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy with Tor Books.


Upcoming novel: Perilous Prophecy.
A mythic, Gothic Gaslamp Fantasy set in 1860s Cairo and London, featuring an inter-faith cast of young mortals drawn into an immortal's plot of love and war between the living and dead. A Strangely Beautiful prequel. Signed pre-orders via WORD Brooklyn.
Most known for: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, (think Harry Potter meets Jane Eyre) an eerie, sweeping, ghostly, Gothic romance set in 1888 London at the time of Jack the Ripper, featuring a group of unlikely heroes, outcasts and orphans, who must band together to save the mortal world from the onslaught of the spirit world. Originally published in 2009 as separate novels, this new 2016 revised, author preferred edition contains the first two books in the Strangely Beautiful saga.

Leanna's free reads!
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

PERILOUS PROPHECY signed preorders, Launch Parties and appearances!

Hello darling readers! Sorry for the lapse in updates, I've been very hard at work on two new books, the last of the Eterna Files and Strangely Beautiful sagas as originally intended- yes that means Miss Violet and The Great War- as well as working on multiple proposals for new projects! So I promise the reason I've been quiet is a good one; I've been very hard at work on very pressing deadlines on stories that I hope you'll all love as much as I do!

BUT, as PERILOUS PROPHECY will be here before you know it, I hope you'll take a moment and pre-order a copy! If you'd like it personalized, I'm very thrilled to again partner with the wonderful independent bookstore WORD in Brooklyn, NYC, a great place to support both yours truly and an incredible, vibrant and community oriented place all in one! Their kind, enthusiastic, caring staff is handling the signed preorders, just click here! If you're missing one of my Eterna Files or other Strangely Beautiful signed titles, you can order one of those too and they'll go out together!
Please note any personalization requests in the notes/comment form of the order, thanks!

If you're not one for signed preorders and want to take advantage of Barnes and Noble and Amazon's amazing sale $10 preorder pricing, go now and take advantage of the sale!

2017 Appearances Scheduled so far!

OHIOANA Book Festival
Columbus, OH
April 8th
Featured Guest & Panelist
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Cincinnati, OH
April 27-31
Literary Director, Guest Author
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Piscataway, NJ
May 4-7
Literary Guest
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Laconia, NH
May 18-22
Literary Director and Guest
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PERILOUS PROPHECY LAUNCH TOUR: Cincinnati, OH, Portland, OR and New York City! There will be a chance for each of you fine cities to get a signed copy IN PERSON at one of my three launch events!

June 20th, 7pm at Barnes and Noble West Chester, OH (Streets of West Chester Complex):
Hometown Book Launch!
This is always an incredible party, where I'll do a little theatrical reading, answer a little questions, do a lotta signing, and we all enjoy some wonderful company!

June 24th, Open-to-the-Public Book-signing of the Historical Novel Society Conference:
Portland, OR
Portland Hilton: 621 SW 6th Avenue
Readers Festival begins at 12:15
Booksigning: 3:30-5:15

June 27th, 6:30 at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, New York City:
My Morris-Jumel Mansion Launch Parties have become the stuff of Legend!
Come visit NYC's oldest mansion (a haunted one, no less), drink wine and devour food, listen to a theatrical reading, enjoy a fashion presentation and launch of the Perilous Prophecy additions to the Strangely Beautiful line curated by Wormwood and Gall, get a copy of Perilous Prophecy signed, hear local ghost stories and more!
6:30 Reception begins
7:00 Reading and Fashion Presentation
7:30 Book Signing and House Tours
Tickets are $15 at the door, $10 if utilizing a Group Discount, proceeds go to the ongoing restoration process of this incredible historic treasure. Ticket includes wine and food!

Motor City Steam Con
Detroit, MI
July 14-16
Literary Guest, Panelist

DRAGONCON
Atlanta, GA
Labor Day Weekend
Guest, Panelist

More to come: See You There!

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In Case You Missed It:
If you missed my over-the-holidays reissue of A Christmas Carroll: A Strangely Beautiful novella, it's out now in digital and trade paperback!
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I've also joined Instagram! http://instagram.com/leannareneehieber
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I'll be back soon with some insights on events and more this year, cheers and stay tuned for excerpts from PERILOUS PROPHECY as we count down to the release!

Blessings and as always,

Happy Haunting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

PERILOUS PROPHECY: A Strangely Beautiful series prequel is up for Pre-Order via Barnes & Noble!

DARLINGS! Behold! The gorgeous, spectacular cover of PERILOUS PROPHECY, A Strangely Beautiful Novel, the prequel previously known as The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess has now arrived. Newly revised and refreshed, Barnes & Noble did an exclusive cover reveal and it is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER! Releasing 6/20/17 from Tor Books! Isn't it beautiful! Be sure to preorder a copy in trade paperback or digital!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hold On To The Light blog: Art as Healer

I want to thank the wonderful and inspiring Gail Martin, who I signed beside at Larry Smith Booksellers at DragonCon for a thrilling hour, for letting me know about the Hold On to The Light campaign for mental wellness. She’s as delightful and powerful as her books.

Being involved with this is fitting, because phrases about holding on to the light have been my exact inscription on most of the books I’ve signed for readers, or variations therein. Holding onto light, both figurative and literal, is the crux of my entire STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL series.

So I’ve had a dark side all my life. That in and of itself is nothing to fear, I revel in a Halloween-Town sort of life, I'm one of those "Perky Goths". However, dressing all in black since my teen years aside, I have had intense periods where I’ve struggled with specific kinds of depression.

The course of my life’s work has been to find ways to dive into tumultuous, deep, treacherous psychological waters and navigate them in a way that is useful, helpful, healthy and societally constructive. My books are the result of that journey. I myself struggle to find words. But my characters are my mediums, and they channel what I want and need to say in a (hopefully) entertaining and engaging way.

Here’s a brief section illustrating why I’ve found a haven in Goth and Gothic culture and literature, and why I will always be an artist lifting up these themes, a premise that has been life-saving for me. I find my characters say it better than I can, so if you'll indulge them... 

This is a scene between Nathaniel Veil, a performer of Gothic drama and my steeled-mettle heroine Natalie Stewart in The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart:

"Well hello there," Mister Veil said appreciatively. "You're not one of my Association. That must make you the lovely Miss Stewart, Jonathon's girl. I was warned you'd be coming," he grinned, showcasing the fangs from a vampiric bit that he'd retained for the rest of his show.

“I am indeed Miss Stewart. The lovely part is up to you.”

Nathaniel laughed, putting fingers to his mouth. With one snap, the fangs were gone. Part of me was sad to see the illusion fade.

“You play a vampire, but do you believe in them?” I asked. "In all the characters and creatures you portray?"

Nathaniel considered this as he placed his teeth into a jar of faux incisors. "Vampires surely exist, in one way or another. Something that preys on human life? I’ve seen that well enough. Fantasy is the only way we can understand reality.” There was a darkness to his tone. A familiar one. “The world is full of devils and thieves, Miss Stewart. To make the darkness playful is the only way to survive it. We must externalize that which might kill us otherwise.”

I nodded. “Jonathon described you as unapologetically melancholy. I find it refreshing. I’ve terrible nightmares. They don't make for pleasant conversation. But life isn’t always pleasant, is it?”

Nathaniel shook his head, gauging me with an intensity that surpassed custom. It was thrilling and off-putting all at once. “Funny. Jonathon didn’t say I couldn't stand close to you. I’d have thought he knew me better.” He took a step closer. I could feel heat coming off his powerful form. Perhaps Jonathon only kept company with men who were, as he was: distinct, bold, and impossible to ignore…

“Is this what you say to all those young women there in the gallery, swaying in black-”

“My Association.”

 I raised an eyebrow. He explained:

 “We are united in melancholy, nothing more. We revel in it, turning our black hearts outward to find joy. We cannot remain in shadow's ecstasy always, so we must make a game of it. Would you like to join us? I'm not usually forthcoming with strangers. But, alas, you've disarmed me.”
Beaming, he produced a card. In bold, elegant script the card declared membership to:

 “Her Majesty’s Association for Melancholy Bastards.”

I couldn't help but chuckle. Turning over the card, it read:

President: Hamlet
Vice President: Edgar A. Poe
Social Chair: Mary Shelley
Secretary: Ophelia
Treasurer: Manfred, Lord of Otranto

Grinning, I looked up from the card to see Nathaniel looking rather pleased with himself. “Brilliant,” I agreed.

“Would you like to join?”

I gave him a wary look. “Is there a membership ritual?”

“I’ll forgo the bloodletting for you,” he said and laughed when I looked wary, gesturing that I keep the card. “Show this at the theatre door whenever I play, and they’ll let you into the pit. We’re self-selecting. We don’t want anyone making fun or starting trouble. It’s why there’s a dress code- grand dark aesthetic aside- it shows you want to play in the spirit of community and camaraderie.”

The way his art defined yet didn’t overwhelm him was wonderful. He didn’t take himself too seriously, which made me take him utterly so.

“Some are born with darkness," Nathaniel stated. "Some have darkness thrust upon them." He turned to his mirrors to wipe a bit of kohl from his eyes. “I hear you and Jonathon were put through quite the trial. He wasn't born with darkness, so it was thrust upon him. You?”

“Thrust upon me and always pressing in. You?”         

“Born with it,” he stated airily. "And when you're born with melancholy you learn how to live with it or else you die of it. Simple as that."

I knew it wasn't as simple as that. My disability proved that rising above challenges, no matter what kind, took discipline and ritual. Veil had figured out his ritual, and once learned, the discipline seemed simple. It was the work of a lifetime.

(end of excerpt)
***
In a much broader swath of thoughts and experiences, my ETERNA FILES series, the latest of which just released, ETERNA AND OMEGA, is a Gaslamp Fantasy series of Supernatural Suspense set in 1800s New York City and London. These books are made up of a wide spectrum of quirky characters from numerous diverse backgrounds. These characters deal with all kinds of issues and struggles, private and public, and for them, battling the paranormal helps them with battling their own internal demons.
I take the exact tack my character Mister Veil takes, in making difficult, trying and extreme themes, one’s own pit and pendulum, something to play with, understand and utilize, rather than letting it be the defining tone, trying never letting abject despair win without a good-natured fight.
My character of Clara Templeton is extremely close to my heart, as her struggles to find balance, internally and externally are carefully calibrated. She is sensitive on many levels, and her sense of purpose is a driving force in her character, as it is in my own. For her there are a lot of grey areas, and she navigates them only by finding a loving and supportive community of friends and chosen family, a “beloved community” that help to protect her even from a distance, as there are things some of us all must walk through and fight autonomously.
My work is dark, rich and complex, as no genre dealing with the kinds of psychological extremes that the Gothic posits should ever be less than complicated and fully realized, allowing for the full breadth of humanity’s capability. That’s how I deal with every struggle, I let it become part of my artistic understanding, trying never to allow ups and downs to rule me, trying to let a forward momentum of productive hope to power me and the atmospheric stories I tell.
I, like every one of my characters in all of my books, seek balance and autonomy, supportive, non-toxic systems and communities, and try to live in strength and hope, trying to enjoy life’s challenges rather than being scared of them or beholden to them.
Art is how I deal with the world and greet the world, it is my core identity entwined with a rock-solid faith in a loving, accepting deity. I try to actively avoid bitterness and negativity and keep my characters sensitive to and aware of those jagged rocks as well.
During this month of mental health awareness, I hope everyone finds positive and enjoyable ways to express their best selves, in safe spaces, filled with good humor, delight, and beauty. May you keep a lit candle of hope burning bright and kindle pride at fighting the good fight for peace.
Cheeers and as I always say... Happy Haunting!

Leanna Renee

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From the Hold On To the Light campaign: If you want to get even more hands-on, please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), Beyond Blue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Visit the public FB group for other participating authors and information! 

Catching up: Interviews, Convention Recap and More!

Hello Dear Readers!

Goodness it’s been a whirlwind 6 weeks!
Beginning with an incredible final Authors After Dark in Savannah at the beginning of August, I went directly on to launch Eterna and Omega in my Cincinnati hometown, I then continued on a convention spree!
Next up I was a returning featured TempleCon guest in Rhode Island, a perennial favorite, where I presided over the High Tea and was asked to emcee the beautiful fashion show in addition to signing lots of books to a fantastic group of readers.

The next day, I went directly out to Chicago and then on to Milwaukee for a Boswell Books event with one of my favorite authors and a dear friend, Mary Robinette Kowal, who was presenting one of my favorite books of all time, her brilliant Ghost Talkers. Also joining us was Ada Palmer, whose incredible Too Like the Lightning really stunned us with its clever conceit and rich prose.

Here we are in period costumes appropriate to our work!
 
Then came the ever jaw-dropping DragonCon, where I was on a record 12 panels across the host venues! Many of these panels featured some of the most passionate and insightful commentary and questions I’ve encountered in all my years, I’m so blessed to be able to connect with such incredible fellow authors, track directors and the best fans in the whole wide world. Love y'all. Entirely selling out of books is a great feeling!
Leanna's on-site interview with GW Pomichter ⭐️ #spacecoastcomiccon #hangingwith #florida #eternafiles
Alethea Kontis captures me mid-interview
Then... southward bound with my beloved Alethea Kontis, the princess herself, to join Space Coast ComicCon in Florida, where the staff and fans are fantastic. I was approached to do a fun "Hangin’With" video interview with Garret Pomichter, found here, and had a lovely time.

In the midst of the convention run, because I'm always working, I also happened to be on a killer deadline for a very different and unique new project I’ll be able to announce later this month. I managed to turn that challenging project in, along with a few short stories and confirmations about another few anthologies I’m honored to be featured in, can't wait to announce those as well.

If you missed my epic Twitter rants about the ending of Penny Dreadful or missed my Facebook link to this post, I wrote a very important essay on Feminism and the Gothic that the fine folks at Fantasy Café asked me for. I put a lot of heart and soul into this one.

And because I just can't miss an opportunity to share my excitement about the latest books, I was interviewed for two podcasts of recent note and relevant interests:
And I was also able to join Jason Henderson on his Castle of Horror podcast for another lively discussion on Gothic Victorian settings and explaining just what, exactly, is Gaslamp Fantasy.

AND the wonderful Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador himself, is featuring me in an incredible multi-post interview! Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, more to come.
If you’ve missed me at any of my recent events, signed copies of ETERNA AND OMEGA can be found at the following locations:
Barnes and Noble, Streets of West Chester store, Cincinnati, Ohio
Barnes and Noble Union Square, NYC
Barnes and Noble 5th Avenue, NYC
Morris Jumel Mansion, NYC
Barnes and Noble Oglethorpe, Savannah, GA
Boswell Books, Milwaukee, WI
And signed, personalized books can always be ordered through my page at WORD Bookstore in NYC!
Or via my Etsy store!

Cheers, blessings, stay tuned for my “Hold On to the Light” post thanks to author Gail Z. Martin during Mental Health Awareness month.
Again, please, if you enjoy my work, please consider leaving an Amazon review and telling your friends about them! If enough people do, it helps ensure my series books will have future installments. As always,

Happy Haunting!

Leanna