Monday, September 14, 2009

Reflections as the Ohio Book Tour begins...

I'm writing this from the childhood dinner table.

It's a grounding, humbling, overwhelming moment. I'm thinking about when I began my first novel in this house, at age 12 and how I kept it a secret from everyone save my best friend. That dear childhood best friend just got back in touch with me, with all this time having passed, because my novel writing is no longer secret. Now that once secret habit is out there in the world, on shelves... after such a long time of trying and dreaming and crying...

Funny, while that old childhood novel will never see the light of day (it no longer exists) - it was also set in 1888, and while it was nothing like Strangely Beautiful, it was a Gothic novel. So looking at it, it appears that the majority of my life has been spent in preparation for the release of my debut novel. That's an interesting thing to think about while sitting at the childhood dinner table, that all roads led to a particular artistic historic home and hearth...

Riding the old country roads again- like Over the Rhine says "... The back roads... I know Ohio like the back of my hand..."- doesn't feel foreign though so much has changed, or that it's another world. I have three worlds that I shift between. Home in Ohio, Home in New York City and Home in Strangely Beautiful (a world I live in just as much as the former two). And I flit between these worlds now with excitement, glad to be in this formative home for the time being, glad I can allow myself this moment of reflecting upon all my worlds, a perspective that sometimes only can come with returning to one's first world and looking outwards.

I've been running hard. Really hard for the past many months. I've been dropping what amounts to post-it notes with pictures on this blog and hardly pausing to breathe or sleep - or to share what it looks like from a reeling stratosphere when I do breathe. I'd kind of like to remember this - and while I've written what amounts to another full-length novel in blog posts, interviews, ghost stories, haunted tour stops, it takes a silent house in a silent countryside for me to just stop a moment. This is a moment where no one but me is asking the questions.

Perhaps this reflection on the nearly 20 year span between the stirrings of a first novel and a published one is also prompted by tomorrow's visit. Tomorrow I go to speak to my former K-8th grade school, in Oxford, Ohio, a spirited school rich in love and ferocity of education, unique in its approach to letting kids be who they are, learn at their own pace, and discover their own talents. It set a formative track for my life. The next day I go and speak to a Miami University English class - to visit my Victorian Literature professor to whom I owe so much. And the day after that to my former Theatre department where I was a BFA major, and the writing department where I wasn't a major, to talk about wearing my various artistic hats - about how being a 'renaissance' type of gal can be a real identity crisis but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I wonder how much I should talk about the hard stuff. About that spastic and scared teenager I once was - terrified that if I told anyone that I was writing my book with characters in my head and heart that felt so stunningly real that they'd send me to an asylum on the spot. Funny. I didn't put it together until just now that Miss Percy's fear of admitting to visions comes precisely from that childhood fear that I'd be thought crazy for dreaming up such vivid realities in my head. Artists are visionaries. And sometimes visionaries are afraid we're going to be labeled as crazy. Great thing is, we are kind of crazy. The journey towards not really caring about that fact has been one of my favourite parts of this process.

I think yes. I think I do say those things if they organically come about. I've no problems admitting that the hyper teenageer has grown into a woman who's still a spaz and still sometimes scared. Sure, I'll talk about the heaps of rejection. About the 'industry'. About the self-doubt. The hitting the wall and almost quitting but for the grace of God and best friends. The worries that when you do sell how well you'll sell, then what about the next book, next contract... Sure, all of that important and heartbreaking stuff. And then I'll talk about how incredible it feels to sit at your childhood dinner table after nearly two decades and ruminate on a wild, crazy dream coming true. And that no one should ever abadon theirs.

For my fellow Ohioans:
I'd love to see you at any of the following events!

Tuesday September 15th
Reading / Speaking / Signing
Folletts Co-Op Bookstore Miami University
110 E High St., Oxford, OH 45056
5-7pm

Friday, September 18th
Central Ohio Fiction Writers multi-author booksigning
Worthington Holiday Inn - 7007 N. High Street, Worthington, OH 43085
6:30-7:30pm

Monday, September 21
Lexington, KY Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Reading / Discussion / Signing
161 Lexington Green Circle, Lexington, KY, 40503
7:00 PM

Friday, September 25
Westchester Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Reading / Discussion / Signing
The Streets of Westchester, 9455 Civic Center Blvd. Cincinnati, OH
7:00 PM

Saturday, September 26
The Stately Raven Bookstore
Reading / Discussion / Signing
1315 North Main Street , Findlay, OH 45840
2:00 PM

For maps / to link to this list, visit my Book Tour page.

For you Ohioans who have been with me along this mad journey, many of you I hope to see and hug and appreciate in person, and all those former Ohioans who are now scattered across this great country and have sent me messages and phone pictures of my books in stores, I just want to say that I love you and tell you thanks for shaping me and affecting me and being a part of an often over-dramatic, sometimes difficult, adventurous life that I'm very, very grateful for. For those of you I met after my life in Ohio, you too. I've an incredible family spread across this fine globe, and family yet to meet, and no matter What Dreams May Come - this one's feeling more than blessed.

--

The latest Miss Percy Parker reviews:

1. Top Pick at Night Owl Romance!








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Do you have a 'homecoming' story of any kind to share? Whether it's an artistic homecoming or a physical homecoming, I'd love to hear it!

9 comments:

raven said...

Totally weird. Your post reminded me of a book I started writing when I was about twelve (I was in sixth grade through seventh). My first novel was centered around the New Kids on the Block. However, this one, the one I'd somehow forgotten was a Victorian/modern day novel set around Catherine, a lovely Victorian lady murdered in her bedroom, and thus bound to the house. She was murdered by a scorned lover whilst she was wearing a blue gown. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that until this blog. I don't know what became of the pink binder my writing was scrawled into...but I may have to someday revisit it. Many congratulations on your success, and thanks for helping me dredge up that memory of my youth.

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

I so want to read that novel - you better find it. :)

OfficiallyInspired said...

Leanna Renee Hieber,
I'm also an Ohioan writer and I just wanted to let you know just how much you've inspired me in a short ammount of time. I found the article on you in the Middletown Journal (your name and signing dates are wrong in that article...)and have grown more interested in you and your novel. You inspire me because, living in Ohio doesn't offer you much oppertunities to make it big, but you've shown me that I can. No matter where I am, I can. I just have to put in the work and believe in myself. Thank you, and I can't wait to read your book! I'm hoping to attend the signing in Westchester. If I go, I'll bring a letter expressing my thanks.

Thanks again.

With eternal love and blessings,
Hanna Ledford (OfficiallyInspired on blogspot.)

HODGEPODGESPV said...

with any luck i will be caught up with everything and have my review posted tonight. i am also trying to think of something for a good q&a. more of that later, it is nose to the grindstone time.

HODGEPODGESPV said...

would you please put email subscription on your blog so i will be posting wen you post. i know how to add you to my reader but to be perfectly honest, i do get thru all my mail but sometimes miss things in my reader.

the groupie

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Dear Officially Inspired Hanna,

Oh, goodness, your comment has just made my whole day and then some. What an honour to be someone who can be a reminder to keep hold of your dreams. I certainly wish you all the best in your writing career! I really hope you can come to West Chester on Friday the 25th I would love to meet you!

Hodge,
Thanks my dear!!!
And I'll work on the email subscription thing, I have to figure out how to add that.

OfficiallyInspired said...

Dear Leanna Renee Hieber,
Thanks for replying to my comment, and I'm serious--you're a huge inspiration to my writing friends and me. (I'm hoping that they'll come Friday too)
I have a question...I bought your book the other day so I could at least start it before the signing, and I guess you had stopped by this Barnes & Noble and signed a few books...so my copy is already signed. Can I still come to the signing? Let me know, please and thank you!
With eternal love and blessings,
Hanna

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Dear Hanna,

Oh, of course you can come, and I hope you and your friends will! I'd love to be able to sign that book for you in a way that is more personal to you, so just bring that book along, and I'll write your name inside, and I'd love to encourage you to never give up on your dreams in person!

Blessings and thanks for your support!

OfficiallyInspired said...

I'm going to text my friends right now and see if they'll come. But, I'll for-sure be there. Okay, I'll bring the book along. We searched all over the store for your book! Seriously, everywhere! Finally, one of the workers found it. lol. I can't wait for Friday! See you then!
--Hanna