Sunday, September 30, 2018

THE SPECTRAL CITY Cover & Good News!

Hello dear readers!

Recently the fantastic BOOK SMUGGLERS hosted the COVER REVEAL for my next novel, THE SPECTRAL CITY, launching 11/27 from Kensington!

Please hop over and visit the Book Smugglers to read about my inspirations, hopes and dreams for this series.

Isn't the cover GORGEOUS?!



If you enjoyed Natalie Stewart, Lord Denbury and Evelyn Northe-Stewart from my Magic Most Foul and Eterna Files books, you'll LOVE the Spectral City as it picks up years in the future when Lord and Lady Denbury's daughter Eve begins a new adventure; leading The Ghost Precinct of mediums and ghosts helping the NYPD solve weird cases in 1899 NYC!

And other good news! 

One of the most frequent questions I get is: Do you have audio books? Well, yes, I shall!
The audio rights for THE SPECTRAL CITY series have sold to Tantor and will be available simultaneously in several formats. (No, I will not be doing the narration. Not for lack of wanting to, but because the company uses in-house talent. I hope to be doing a few of my shorter works in the future, stay tuned!)

You can pre-order the eBook and the Audio CD presently at Amazon, print Paperback pre-order editions and other Audio edition pre-order buttons to come. Nook pre-order via Barnes and Noble.

Stay tuned for an exciting pre-order campaign where if you show a proof of purchase, you can get cool swag from Kensington! Details soon to come!

Cheers and Happy Haunting!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Leanna's 2018 DragonCon Schedule!

DARLINGS!
IT'S NEARLY THE TIME FOR MADNESS ONCE MORE! Check out this UTTERLY AWESOME panel lineup!!!
I'm SUPER honored to be a part of Sherrilyn Kenyon's launch party! So exciting!
Please note, in particular, as always, Princess Alethea's Traveling Sideshow is never to be missed, you get tons of goodies and the chance to procure amazing things! Also PLEASE NOTE my reading session on Saturday, I'll have books and jewelry available for sale and signing, I'll do a Q and A and ALSO, I'll be previewing a NEVER BEFORE HEARD piece of fiction from my upcoming November release THE SPECTRAL CITY! I can't wait to share this book with my DragonCon family!
SEE YOU THERE!
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Title: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Stygian Masquerade Party!
Description: Demons & Daimons are on the loose and it's a night to be remembered! Come dressed to party and to celebrate one of the most anticipated books of the year! #1 New York Times bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Stygian (Urian's book).
Time: Thu 07:00 pm Location: Regency VI-VII - Hyatt (Length: 4 Hours)
(Tentative Panelists: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Mari Mancusi)

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Title: Realms of the Dead: Ghosts and Spirits in UF
Description: Our panelists discuss the various types of ghosts and spirits found in their work, and in the genre.
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Chastain 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber, David B. Coe, E.J. Stevens, A. J. Hartley, Matthew Kressel, Gail Z. Martin)

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Title: Victorian Death Customs
Description: Victorians raised mourning to a high art, with Queen Victoria modeling extreme grief and fueling an industry built on mourning attire. Elaborate social customs dictated how one was supposed to behave after the death of close family. The discussion will center around mourning made creepy.
Time: Fri 05:30 pm Location: Augusta - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Leanna Renee Hieber)

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Title: Princess Alethea's Traveling Sideshow
Description: Alethea Kontis and her misfit band of bestselling authors perform their hilarious annual variety show!
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: A707 - Marriott (Length: 2.5 Hours)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Mari Mancusi, Diana Peterfreund, Gray Rinehart, Zac Brewer)

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Title: Reading Session: Leanna Renee Hieber
Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Vinings - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber)

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Title: Her-storically Speaking
Description: Well-behaved women rarely make history, as they say. So we'll be talking about some of the women who made waves, with a focus on pirates, vikings, and detectives. History professors, writers, and all-around smart ladies talk about the stories we may not have been taught in history books.
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Athens - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Octavia Randolph, Jean Marie Ward, Leanna Renee Hieber, Nancy Holzner)

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Title: Oops, I Sold My Novel. Now What?
Description: Selling your novel is Step One. Presenters will discuss what happens next. How do you make your first novel the success you dreamed about?
Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: John L. Flynn, Lucienne Diver, Leanna Renee Hieber, Michael J. Martinez, Scott Sigler, Jean Marie Ward)

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Title: The Secret History of Spies
Description: From the Culper Ring to M16, the secret organization of intelligence gathering and spies is a fascinating topic for fact, historical fiction and alternate history. Our panel of authors will discuss and highlight some of the amazing facts and inspiration behind the art of espionage and intrigue.
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: Athens - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Michael J. Martinez, S.M. Stirling, Walter H. Hunt, Austin Sirkin, Leanna Renee Hieber, David B. Coe)

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Title: Same Places, Different Times: Historical Urban Fantasy
Description: Our panelists explore supernatural beings and magic occurring in historical real-world settings.
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: Chastain 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: David B. Coe, Laura Anne Gilman, Clay and Susan Griffith, Leanna Renee Hieber, E.J. Stevens, Tim Powers)

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Title: Winding Down the Clock, A Time Travel Story Hour
Description: Round out your Con experience by joining the Alt History Track for a few good steampunk stories told by a few of our favorite authors. They'll spin a long yarn and we'll wind down our Con experience swapping war stories.
Time: Mon 10:00 am Location: Athens - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Michael J. Martinez, Leanna Renee Hieber, Laura Anne Gilman, E.J. Stevens)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Edward and Rose: An Edward Scissorhands Fan Fiction by Leanna Renee Hieber (Circa 1997)


DEAR READERS,

Those of you who attend DragonCon may have heard me read from this little gem of teenage fan-fiction. I had promised FOR YEARS to make it available online and I only now rediscovered the file and was able to open and convert it. So, as promised forever ago, here is my Edward Scissorhands, the epilogue:         

Edward & Rose - An Edward Scissorhands Fan Fiction by Leanna Renee Hieber, written at the tender age of 18 (The now multi-published and award winning author is now many years older but still loves this little tale, enjoy)

The window he stared out of was cracked, and frosted white-blue in the winter air.  The attic was quite cold, of course, in December, but he didn’t mind, for the open hole in the attic’s rooftop gave quite a lovely view of the midnight sky and was well worth the chill.

              Snow had drifted in and settled in a conical pile directly beneath the open lattice-work of rotting boards and splintered rafters.  Sheets of ice lay in patches near the pyramid of snowflakes, wide and fluffed hundreds of thousands, that had fallen silently all night, all day, without wind or breeze.  Silent snow. 

              He left the window.

              He worked. 

              He sculpted.

              Occasionally, he would return to the frosty window and stare, wide dark eyes surveying the expanse of snow-covered woodland sparsely speckled with leafless trees, appearing like veritable twigs from the height of his attic perch.

              Now and then he noticed animals scurry from tree to tree, pattering across the white ground, birds flitting in and out of branches, disappearing in tufts of white-capped evergreens.

              He liked the view over the woodland.

              The opposite window looked out over the town below.

              He preferred the view over the woodland.

              The woodland was peaceful.

              The woodland did not remind him.

              Of anything.

              A large animal had scurried behind a shrubbery earlier that day.  He was curious what sort of creature it was.  He wished for a second look at it.  He wished to sculpt it, and hoped he could catch a better view of it.

              He had sculpted her a thousand times.

              Many winters had passed since that first shower of snowflakes, but the image of her remained as fresh, as vibrant, and as beloved as if that night were only yesterday. 

              The memories, at least, could not melt. 

              He had waited many winters to see her again.

              She did not come.

              Perhaps she was old now.

              He’d once scored marks upon the attic wall, counting the winters, but he’d scratched it out with a rending sound of metal against hard plaster in a rather unpleasant bout of what he suspected was  heartsickness.

              But that was a while ago.

              He continued to sculpt, not easily bored.

              It was dawn and he hadn’t seen the strange creature scuttle by again.

              The sun burst over the horizon in a usurping ball of fire.

              He pursed his lips.

              While a bright sun was welcome, it would ruin his art.

              But at least it may make flowers grow, he thought, and he rather enjoyed those.

              He had been awaiting the winter crocuses for a whole month.

              The front lawn was speckled with them; white, golden and royal purple; circling the large evergreen topiaries that were maintained in excellent care.

              He descended the inordinately large staircase that led down to the cavernous space that was the foyer of the castle that he solely inhabited. The gigantic arched door opened with a resentful groan. Spiderwebs rustled in the subsequent flow of cool air. A pale face blinked at the dawn, the subtle humming twitch of metal the only sound. He looked down at the bottom of the front steps expectantly.

              No Crocuses.  He pursed his lips again.

              He stepped into the snow and moved to the large topiary in the shape of a dancing, turning young lady whirling around at the center of his front lawn.

              Still no Crocuses.

              But there was a strange-looking girl hiding behind the topiary with a mouth full of crocus petals.

              The girl’s eyes were wide, pearlescent white with bright, grass-green irises.

              The girl gulped the crocus petals nervously.

              Two very pale faces blinked at one another curiously.

              Two pairs of blank eyes registered a sort of recognition, though they surely had never met. 

              The girl who had apparently ate all of his crocuses was covered in a thick grey cloak that shrouded her trembling body.  What could be seen of her face from beneath the shadow of her hood appeared waxen white and tinted greenish, tiny scars the only slight blemish to a porcelain doll face.

              “Do you have any more flowers?  I’m terribly sorry.  I’m starving.”  Said the girl, in a soft voice with an accent foreign to his ears.

              They blinked at one another through a long pause.

              “I... I think you ate them all.”  He replied simply.  The girl downcast her emerald eyes that were clearly not of the township’s making.

              “Ah well.”  The girl said ruefully, in that clipped, clarion speech of hers.  Uneven shoulders shrugged.  “Perhaps in the city?”

              “Perhaps.”  He replied, not used to speaking to someone in his front lawn, especially not someone who looked as if they may perhaps be one like him.  A great while had passed since he had spoken at all. She didn’t look at him in shock or surprise and he found this quite refreshing.

              “Ah.”  Said the girl, shaking and appearing rather drawn.  She turned and began to walk towards the path that led out to the gate far below and out into the cul-de-sac and out into the town.

              “I’m... I’m not sure I would... go down... there if I were... you.”  He hesitantly called to the cloaked girl.

              The figure turned, and her hood fell behind her to reveal thick tufts of flaxen-white hair interwoven with leaves and rose petals that fell in unkempt tendrils all about her frail shoulders.

              “Why?”  She asked.

              “They...”  He began, and lifted an arm, gesturing with a long blade.  “They...don’t like people like us.”

              “I see.”  She replied, at a loss, and plopped down wearily in the snow like a rag doll.

              A thought occurred to him.

              “Oh.  I may... have a Geranium that is still alive in the study...if you like...”

              “Oh, very much, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”  She exclaimed, bounded to her feet and ran forward eagerly in jerking steps.

              He turned and walked towards the open front door.

              He stopped at the threshold and turned back to face his surprise visitor.

              “Welcome to my home.”  He stated in a polite monotone and turned, walking into the cool dark cavern of the foyer.  His leather-like black suit and tousled black hair almost made him disappear into the shadows, and the girl had to blink a few times in order to follow, following the sound of heavy footsteps and the slight rattle of metal.

              She lost sight of him through an arched corridor across the empty floor.

              She heard a slight rustle, and then, by dim shafts of light that came through several open doorways and filtered down from a large staircase, she saw him return again with a potted plant that bore a few wilted crimson blossoms.

              She moved forward weakly, as if to embrace the Geranium.

              He shook his head.

              “Follow me.”  He said, his boyish voice ever gentle.

              She did so, out of the cavernous foyer into yet another vast room bearing a long, narrow table, centerpieced by an angled candelabra.

              An elaborate, unlit lamp fixture dangled and glittered in shades of grey from an arched ceiling.

              A place was already set, as if waiting for an undetermined visitor.

              He set the Geranium near the white china plate, leaned over and blew the dust off the setting.

              He gestured for the girl to sit at the head of the table, before the geranium and the plate.

              She did so, staring up at him with wide innocent emerald eyes.

              A whirring noise was heard.

              The blades and spikes and knives that were the man’s hands clipped and snipped and trimmed and cut.

              His hands returned to his sides.

              The Geranium and its blooms lay organized artfully upon the plate.  The plant itself remained stripped naked in its pot.

              The girl breathed a sigh of great admiration and delight.

              He looked down at her and his purplish lips slightly curved.

              “What is your name?”  She asked, as equally enamored by her chef as she was by her dinner.

              “Edward.”  He replied.

              “I’m Rose.”  The girl declared, and her there was a rustling in her lap.

              A hand made entirely of vines and sharp, thorny rose stems crept out from beneath her cloak. 

              “I’ve been made too.”  She confessed softly.

              She offered her hand out very gingerly.

              He cocked his head to the side and looked nervously at his own hands and their edgy protrusions and looked then at the girl, expecting her to see the difficulty of a formal greeting.  She stared right back, fully aware of the difficulty she too possessed.

              The girl placed her hand of twigs and thorns and thin woven vines beneath the dull edge of a long blade and shook gently.

              “Pleasure to meet you, Edward.”  She said sweetly.  Blood red lips smiled.  Purplish, boyish lips twitched into a nervous smile in response and there was an exhale of breath that sounded somewhat like a pleased chuckle.

              “And you, Rose.”  Edward said, in his most refined demeanor, unaware that he had adopted her foreign accent.

              Rose giggled.  Her hands returned to her lap.  Edward looked down at the plate and nodded, and scurried to take his place across the long table.

              Rose removed her cloak, revealing a pure black dress, made of a thick burlap fabric, corseted and fitted to a slender body frame, and trimmed with dark red ruffles.  She was picturesque; all porcelain doll and flaxen flower-tangled hair, folds of black burlap and thorn ridden hands.

              Edward sat, not taking his eyes off his guest.

              Rose plucked the crimson napkin near her plate with one thorny finger and lay it across her lap.

              Edward skewered his absently with a knifepoint and lay it across his lap.  His plate was bare, but he didn’t seem to notice. 

              “Aren’t you having anything?”  Rose asked, somewhat embarrassed that she was so ravenously staring at the artfully arranged bouquet of blossom and greenery upon her plate.

              Edward shook his head and nodded for her to begin eating.

              She did so, eagerly, and soon the gourmet prepared geraniums had been inhaled and gulped with only a few crisp chewing sounds.

              “Thank you, Edward.”  She said, with most sincere gratefulness.

              “I... I don’t like Geraniums anyway.”  He stated. 

              “What about Crocuses?”  She asked meekly.

              “I do like those.”  He replied.

              “I’m sorry.”  She cringed.  He blinked.

              “They’ll grow again.”  Edward responded matter-of-factly, which was often his way.  “Why is your voice... different?”  He asked simply.

              “Oh.”  Rose laughed, a sweet, little-girl sound.  “My Mistress lived in England, before she came to this country.”

              “And...you... live...”  He began quietly, a long scissor blade indicating towards the direction of the town.

              “Oh no, the next town over.”  Rose replied brightly.  “In that castle upon the top of that hill.”  She pointed westward.  “Mum said every town needed a mad inventor of sorts, and that town seemed to be lacking one, so she moved in.  I was made a year later.”

              Edward looked very impressed.

              Another mad inventor-”

              “A mad botanist.”  Rose clarified.

              Edward nodded.

              “And yours?”  She asked politely.

              Edward looked at the floor.

              “He had lots of machines.  I’m not finished.”  He replied quietly, and held up his fists of shears and fingers of blades.

              “Mum said she didn’t want to finish me.  Mum said I was just perfect, thorns and all.  Why would I want to be like all the rest, anyhow?”  Rose declared proudly.  Edward continued to look at the floor.

              “There are some people it would be... worth it...for.  To be...finished...I mean.  Normal.”

              Rose blinked at him, white-petal-like lids closing and opening. “Why?”

              “S-so you wouldn’t scare them...”

              “Who did you scare?”  Rose asked.

              “Everyone.”  He replied softly, turning to gaze in the town’s general direction.

              “Everyone?”  She pressed.

              “Well...except for one.”  He said hastily, and rose from the table.  His crimson napkin had become attached to one of the lower blades and he did not notice it. 

              Rose smirked and said nothing, as Edward seemed clearly enrapt in something. 

              He left the room, a sound of clomping heels and clicking metal. 

              She followed.

              Up the long flight of stairs.

              To an attic.

              Rose gasped.  Ice sculptures.  A slew of them, in frozen waltzes across the attic floor.  People, frozen in play, in contemplation.  A girl twirling, enrapt; several of this particular theme.

              “Oh Edward.”  Rose sighed, appreciatively.

              Edward stood near one wall of the attic, plastered with old, yellowed, weathered newspaper clippings.

              One was an engagement announcement.  Edward had a knifepoint held at the top of the article.

              The girl pictured was lovely, blonde, with big dark eyes just as soft and gentle as Edward’s, standing with a rugged young man.

              Suddenly he drew the blade along the article and it split, wrinkled and tore beneath its edge.  The pictured couple separated into two halves and fell to the floor.  Edward poked the picture of the girl deftly with one point and returned it to the wall.  The other half of the picture remained upon the floor.

              Rose said nothing, only watched intently as Edward shuffled with heavy steps over to the window and looked out at the town below.  His plain, smooth white brow was furrowed.

              “Why did... you come here?”  Edward asked, staring out at the cookie cutter suburb below.

              “I smelled the flowers.  The crocuses.”  She began apologetically.  “Mum died a few years ago.  There was no one to keep up the greenhouse.  I did the best I could.  But I had to eat, I couldn’t help it, and soon there was nothing left.”  Rose shrugged and made a face.  “Not even any fertilizer.”  She paused.  “I had no choice but to scavenge.  I am sorry.”

              “Don’t be.  Just... don’t go there.”  Edward stated, a little ringing sound of a metal blade against glass, pointing at the houses below.

              “They won’t like me there?”  She asked naively.

              Edward stared ahead of him.

              “It’s just a different world.”  He replied.

              “But our gardener was so nice.  He was one of them.”  Rose insisted.  A very silent pause.

              “So was she.”  Edward glanced at the wall of clippings.

              “I was in love with him.  Our gardener.”  Rose declared.

              “What happened?”

              “Allergic to pollen.”

              “Ah.”

              “Do you miss her?”  Rose asked.

              “Do you miss him?”  He returned.

              The two stared at the city.

              “Company.  That’s all I really miss.”  She replied earnestly.

              Edward nodded.

              “Yes.”  He agreed, after a long silence.  “Yes.”  He agreed again, more convincingly.

              He moved to one of the sculptures behind him and watched the edges drip slowly.  A whirring sound of metal upon ice.  Ice flakes flew out behind a slender form.  Rose moved forward and let the fall upon her face.  She closed her eyes and felt things stirring deep within her.  An amorphous human form was transformed into a vase of roses.

              “Bravo!”  She cried, realizing that she hadn’t heard such a delighted sound escape from her lips in quite some time.  She applauded as best she could, thorns to thorns.

              Edward appeared relatively pleased, as much as his stoic face seemed to allow.

              Snow began to fall again.

              The two sat upon the floor craning their pale faces towards the hole in the roof and stared at the open sky, watching snowflakes with patient admiration.  Edward still did not seem to notice the napkin that clung to one of the tips of his blades and Rose said nothing.

              Perhaps a couple of hours passed. 

              Time was a suburbian convention.  It did not currently apply.

              “What are you to do?”  Edward asked finally.

              “When?”

              “Dinner.”

              Rose shrugged.

              “Starve I suppose.”  She replied matter of factly.

              “Wish I had a greenhouse.”  Edward stated.

              “How sweet of you.”  Rose murmured, roses upon her cheeks.

              Edward appeared to smile slightly.

              “Am I...sweet?”  He asked meekly, staring at her feet.  His shears clicked anxiously.

              “Very.”  Rose smiled shyly, blinking at him with her sparkling emerald gaze. 

              She felt something stirring near her chest. 

              Such a sensation was significant. 

              A thorny thumb and forefinger fished behind burlap and stays.  She cocked her head to the side, winced, and a tiny snap was heard.

              From her corset she procured a small, fresh white rose tipped with scarlet.

              She stared at the flower excitedly. 

              Looking up at Edward, she grinned, blood-red lips a thin, sloping semicircle. 

              She offered the rose to him happily.

              He shook his head as if he wouldn’t dare accept the gift.

              She held it out, insisting.  He did not move.

              Rose crawled forward and placed the stem in one of the buckles of his leather suit.  He looked to the side, bashfully.  She craned her neck upside down to look into his downcast eyes.

              “I haven’t grown in quite a while.”  She whispered excitedly, and blood-red rose-petal lips kissed him upon the nose.

              She flopped back on the floor with a contented sigh and stared up at the afternoon sky.

              Edward responded in turn, flopping noisily upon his back, spread eagled.

              They stared at the sky and watched clouds become shapes and fancies.

              She occasionally itched her wrist.

              Finally she sat up.

              “Oh dear.”  She stated blandly.

              Edward sat up in one fluid motion.

              She pulled back the thick black burlap of her sleeve that covered her wrist.  Green fronds popped out from beneath the fabric.   She sighed.

              “I was afraid of that.”

              “What?”

              “Weeds.”

              Edward leaned forward.  One hand carefully came near her.

              With a few deft flicks of scissors, wielded with great flair, the green shafts had fallen to the floor and Rose’s wrist was most perfectly trimmed.

              The two stared at one another.  Edward flashed a tiny, pleased smile.  Rose giggled a most pleasantly surprised and quite affectionate giggle. 

              He leaned back upon both fistfuls of shears and it was then that he noticed that his crimson napkin was attached to one of his blades and he attempted to remove it with his other set.  However, in a whir of scissor sounds, he managed to create an unfolding string of hearts out of the cloth rather than depositing it upon the floor.  He looked down at his inadvertent valentine and a look crossed over his blank face that was perhaps consternation, or bashfulness.

              Rose again clapped thorny hands together in delight.

              Twilight came.

              The stars burst forth.

              They watched them.

              They were not afraid of silence.

              Silence was familiar.  Company was comfort.

              Edward sat up again suddenly.

              “I have an idea.”

              “Yes?”  Rose said dreamily.

              “Come.”  He said, rising to his feet.

              Rose obeyed, and followed him. 

              She followed him down the steps, through the foyer, out the front door, and down the path towards the front gate, towards The Street.

              “Edward...”  Rose said cautiously.

              He stopped by the gate and turned.  He gestured for her to catch up.

              “But...”  She hesitated, standing at his side, nervously indicating the city that loomed before them.

              “Do you ... think... I’m... “perfect”...blades and... all?”  He asked gently, innocent honesty mixed with worldly anxiety, while his pale face remained rather emotionless.

              Rose felt that stirring deep within her again. 

              Blossoming. 

              A wide smile.  Rose skipped down the path to the gate.  She slid her arm into Edward’s and nodded, a sufficient reply to his inquiry.

              “Well then....”  He stated, and led Rose out onto The Street.

              They stood, arm in arm, staring at Suburb for a long while.  Eerie, as always.

              It was dark now.

              “Where are we going?”  She asked, giddily.

              They walked to the nearest house.

              A wreath of poinsettias hung upon the front door.

              A whirring sound commenced and in a few moments the wreath was devoid of scarlet leaves and all that remained was an artfully sculpted ring where the greenery had been.  He offered a fistful of poinsettia to Rose, who giggled and danced a hitching little dance of delight, and accepted the pieces of plant.

              Over the course of the evening, all the poinsettias from suburban front door Christmas wreaths accumulated in the folds of Rose’s skirt.

              They passed one particular house.  It looked like any other house.  There was a Christmas tree in the corner of the living room, just like every other house.

              Edward’s innocent demeanor darkened.

              Edward stood at the mailbox, thoughtfully, for quite some time.

              Rose placed a thorny hand gently upon his shoulder, soft enough to not mar his suit.

              He turned.

              Wide, dark eyes stared into wide green ones.

              Silence said everything.  These two knew silence intimately.

              Two solitary tears rolled down two separate cheeks.

              “Time to go home?”  Rose asked quietly, sweetly.  She wished to touch his cheek, but she’d made that mistake one too many times upon her own, as, judging from the similar scars upon Edward’s face, he had as well.

              Edward nodded.

              He turned wearily.

              He began to shuffle off down The Street.

              Rose watched him go.

              He got to the end of the street, heavy tread and metallic pings. 

              Rose felt something wither inside her and she mustered all of her energy for one fervent request that would have been most likely construed as a prayer.

              Edward realized that Rose had not followed him.

              His scissors clicked in a sudden panic.

              He whirled around.

              She stood staring at the other end of The Street, crimson poinsettia leaves trickling from her dress.

              “Rose?” 

              “Edward?”

              The street echoed with their innocent voices.

              Edward pointed a long, knifed finger up the hill to his home.  It was very clear to him what he was to ask, yet he still paused nervously, staring blankly at the figure at the end of The Street that just may make the silences more bearable, and company a comfort.

              “There will be crocuses again soon, Rose... If you’ll be patient...  Lilies, and... irises, too... Will you come... home... Rose?”

              Rose scooped up her skirt and ran in an uneven gallop up The Street, a ringing laugh taking flight into the air.

              A kiss occurred then, at the threshold of two worlds. 

              A sweet kiss.  A long awaited and beautiful merge.

              Thorns touched blades.

              Those nestled in suburban beds may not have understood.

              Those trapped by suburban confines may not have appreciated.

              No matter.

              It never was their fairy tale to begin with.

              They had meddled.

              Fairy tales are best left to their own devices.

              Much gossip occurred when a construction truck arrived at the end of The Street, and a glittering greenhouse was erected at the top of the hill.

              One wrinkled, haggard face watched from a window with great interest as the greenhouse had been erected, and laughed quietly when her neighbors exclaimed that their wreaths had been trimmed clear off.

              A bouquet of two dozen lush red roses appeared one morning on her doorstep, with a note.   
            
  “Much love, Edward and Rose”

              Tears rolled down an old woman’s face.

              It began to snow.

              The old woman walked outside and whirled around slowly beneath the flakes, and silently thanked the forces that create fairy tales that her one wish had been granted.

THE END

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Leanna's 2018 Commencement Speech for Edgewood High School


Edgewood High School staff, Leanna at center: To left, Becky Simpson and right, Sue Combs: Influential Teachers
Hello My Dears! This past weekend I had the honor of addressing my Alma Mater, as I was asked to be this year's Commencement Speaker. In addition to offering brief words of wisdom and encouragement to the graduates, I was asked to honor two influential teachers who have been a part of my success as an actor, playwright and multi-published author. It was an incredible, meaningful, unforgettable experience. As promised, here's the speech. I hope it inspires you! Blessings!

Saturday, May 26th, Edgewood High School Class of 2018 Commencement Speech, Millet Hall, Oxford Ohio, Leanna Renee Hieber


It’s incredible to be back here, in this space, in front of Edgewood graduates. In 1997 when I was Edgewood’s Valedictorian, this was the biggest audience I’d ever had. Thanks for giving me another chance in front of a stadium crowd! 

Since growing up in Ohio, attending Edgewood, then Miami University, I’ve been all around the country. In 2005, I landed in New York City to pursue theatre and writing. In 2009 my first set of novels, called Strangely Beautiful, were published. Now with over ten novels under my belt for various publishers and more on the way, I wear lots of hats. I remain an actress, I’m also a tour guide, artist and a speaker around the country. I’m blessed to say I make my living exclusively in the arts in the big city. As you can guess, I could never choose between performing and writing, so I chose both. That’s why, when I was asked to honor one of my Edgewood teachers today, I couldn’t choose just one. 
Becky Simpson, English teacher, writing teacher, head of our Drama club and also often a director of plays, and Sue Combs, choir teacher, Choralier teacher, also a director of plays and musicals: You both were utterly foundational in fostering my well-rounded career in the arts. 
You each had a unique way of teaching that came from your individual voice and passion This ignited ours. You approached your classes like an invitation, inviting us to find, in your lessons, a common ground with our own interests, an enjoyment and an excitement. You didn’t demand we love literature or music as much as you did, you invited us to. Those of us who chose to really show up at the table where you’d set a feast; we were nourished by your enthusiasm, your commitment, and your quirky ways of making learning fun. My freshman year was bookended by both of you as my directors for the fall play and the spring musical, and we all went from there. All the seeds you planted grew healthy and strong. Those of us who joined you in extra-curricular activities got the chance to expand on what you fostered in the classroom. These invitations of yours became my professions. I am so grateful. I’m so thrilled to present each of you with this Influential Teacher award.
***

Now, Edgewood High, class of 2018, my goodness, is this moment exciting or what?! When I’m asked to give a bit of advice from my own experience working in fields I love, the core lesson really is to follow your dreams. I know, it sounds so trite and worn out, but the core of what makes you- just you, original, unique you, is priceless. A group of writers could each be given the exact same writing prompt and all of us would come up with completely different stories. Don’t worry about being any other voice but your own. Cherish diversity and uniqueness within yourself and in others. Foster your own individual strengths. Take moments along the way to lift up others around you as you grow, learn, develop new insights and become more well-rounded. A mind that’s constantly learning is the healthiest. We’re all individuals, but no one makes it in the world alone. Everything ‘takes a village’ as they say, and because of everyone’s inherent uniqueness, everyone has something special to offer. 
Because the world is full of unexpected twists and turns, I encourage everyone to foster not just one dream, but a few. Opportunities don’t come via just one channel, or in the ways we expect, and certainly not on a time table we can predict. Industries are constantly shifting. Mine have changed radically and I’ve raced to try to keep up. If you’re adaptable, and good at not just one thing but several, and can redirect your focus where its most advantageous, you’ll fashion a rewarding life rising to challenges and opportunities accordingly. You’ll set an example others can follow when they don’t know what to do next. Try a few things next.  
Seek out things you don’t hate doing. Whether you’re going into further education, taking time off, going right into a trade; whatever makes your heart beat, matters. Getting stuck in any kind of work or study you hate is really difficult. Often, it’s unavoidable, but it can be temporary. Personally, and no offense to the profession, I hated my temp-job as a paralegal. Again, no offense to the corporation, but I hated working at Starbucks. Once a talent agency I worked for put me inside a Pillsbury doughboy suit at the General Mills headquarters. Not my finest day, but that one paycheck paid me far more than the Tennessee Williams play I was starring in that night, so I did those temporary things for the larger goal. Sometimes you have to do absurd things to get by, while you try to get in somewhere you don’t hate. Keep your spirits up in the meantime. Laughing about it helps. That day in the Doughboy suit? I wrote about that ridiculous day and it turned into my first professional writing gig for Dramatics magazine. Who’d have thought? 
I’m very blessed to have jobs where I create characters and take them on fantastical adventures, to work behind the camera and in front of it, to write for the stage and speak at comic-cons and conventions. But the long, winding road to get here continues to twist and turn as the industries I’m in face constant change and uncertainty, so the advice I’m giving is one I keep taking. 
You’re at such an important time, but I know it’s a spooky one too. Big changes are difficult. Not knowing exactly how the next phase of your life will play out can be very stressful. I think it’s part of the human condition to worry, but change is just as equal a reality of the human condition. There are always questions to be asked and doors to open. It’s hard to think of life being a series of unresolved questions, but a question mark is also an invitation. An opportunity for innovation. A chance to let good, new, exciting things in. 
My favorite poet and philosopher Rainer Maria Rilke has a quote from his collected Letters to a Young Poet that I think of nearly every day: 

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

I invite you to live boldly, creatively, adaptively into your answers. 
Thank you, blessings and good luck.



(The End)

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