Sunday, December 31, 2017

Leanna's 2017 Round Up! New Books, Announcements, TV Appearance and more!

2017 was a difficult year in so many ways, it was a trying time for me, my loved ones and many artists and figures I admire, but I don’t want to shortchange accomplishments of the year and provide an in-case-you-missed-it round up of my publications, features, essays and acclaim that provided many bright spots and affirmations of creativity, hope and spirit. All posts and books I mention are linked in blue for further reading and engagement.

1. I turned in the draft of MISS VIOLET AND THE GREAT WAR (Strangely Beautiful # 4) to my editor at Tor Books in February, its publication date isn’t yet set, but drawing Strangely Beautiful to a close was a heartbreaking and soulful process. I simply cannot wait to share this spirit-filled family legacy with you.

2. As many of you know, the publication journey of the Strangely Beautiful saga has been long and fraught, so the return of The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess, reissued this spring by Tor Books as PERILOUS PROPHECY was pure joy. To have it again available in print is such a blessing. This book, a prequel to the also freshly revised and reissued Strangely Beautiful, delves deeper into the myth, the magic, the tragedy and the passionate, redemptive love that I want to wrap my readers up in; bundling them with lyrical, lush prose.   
3. One of the most wonderful reviews of my work I’ve yet received, written by Shana DuBois for Barnes and Noble’s Blog, really captures what I hope readers will take from this book, penned with every ounce of my heart and soul. "There is something truly magical about Leanna Renee Hieber’s writing. Every page of Perilous Prophecy is infused with it, and it will seep into you, changing you as you read."
4. The wonderful Fantasy Café, after graciously hosting my Penny Dreadful rant last year in which I excoriated the show for its character failings and for its senselessly regressive endings, had me back for their Women in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Feature to discuss The Gothic as a sort of Canary in Fear’s Coal Mine; a discussion of psychological aspects that make the genre so important.
5. Tor.Com had me on to discuss the one book that, if I were to pick one, most changed my life. The Collected works of Edgar Allan Poe. A writer and historical figure that most profoundly made me who I am today, Poe remains an inspiration that has always helped me navigate my own rough waters…
6. In July I guest starred on The Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum! I was in what was called the "Kennedy Wedding Disaster" episode (I speak about the Eddy Brothers and 19th Century Spiritualism, one of my favorite subjects). The episode is available via YouTube or on Hulu. This was so exciting! It was such a treat to speak, for a TV audience, on a subject I know and love so well!

7. In celebration of my ETERNA FILES finale, I stopped by Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig’s fabulous site, to talk about the Five things I learned (and relearned) writing THE ETERNA SOLUTION.

8. I stopped by the inimitable and generous John Scalzi's domain. For his WHATEVER blog I talked about The Big Idea behind the Eterna Files series as a whole.
9. This November saw the close of my Eterna Files series with THE ETERNA SOLUTION, an exciting conclusion to this Gaslamp Fantasy trilogy, showcasing the importance of localized magic and personal power to fight the last stand of a horrific, violent cabal.

I had wonderful launch parties for this book, just like I did for PERILOUS PROPHECY at Barnes and Noble West Chester, OH and the incredible Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York. Writing this book my inclusive cast of quirky characters endeared themselves to me so deeply, I was sorry to see them draw this part of their narrative to its close but I know I will see many of these fine folks again in future novels, as many of the cast will appear in upcoming books, my extant series all dovetailing in parallel worlds.
Meghan Harker wrote the loveliest review of THE ETERNA SOLUTION for Criminal Element and she put into sharp focus why I do what I do, helping fill my well to continue. "The sheer joy of reading Hieber’s work reminded me of what I strive for as an artist and the power that love and friendship have in fighting against the darkness—which, incidentally, is the culmination of her Eterna Files series."
10. I signed on for a new trilogy with Kensington Books! THE SPECTRAL CITY will release late 2018 from the new Rebel Base imprint. THE SPECTRAL CITY is a bit like if the show Medium were to meet The Alienist. The year is 1899. Eve Whitby, a talented nineteen year old Medium, daughter of Lord Denbury and Natalie Stewart of my Magic Most Foul saga, leads The Ghost Precinct; a small team of Mediums and Ghosts who help solve crimes and in some cases prevent them as Gilded Age New York City, and all its dark undercurrents, are about to tumble into a new century. Spiritualists, Escape Artists, Charlatans, Spectres and High Society all mix in heady, deadly brew. The Ghost Precinct loses its most vital spectral assets and the hunt is on for what in the world could have killed the already dead...   
As always I do many conventions and events throughout the year, check in with my Appearances page on my website and follow my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for regular updates! Feel free to ask any questions on any of my platforms and I'll try to respond as soon as I can to any reasonable query.
Cheers, Happy Haunting and Happy New Year! May the spirits guide you beautifully into 2018!

Monday, November 27, 2017

A moving review of THE ETERNA SOLUTION

Deepest thanks to Meghan Harker at Criminal Element for this moving review of THE ETERNA SOLUTION, out now from Tor Books.

"The sheer joy of reading Hieber’s work reminded me of what I strive for as an artist and the power that love and friendship have in fighting against the darkness..."

Life-affirming, it is words like these that keep me going and resolute on my mission. I hope you'll join us on the journey. Blessings.
Full review:

Order from IndieBound
Order from Barnes and Noble
Order a Signed, Personalized Copy (as well as jewelry and other unique items!) from Leanna's Etsy store
Order from Amazon

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


IT HAS ARRIVED! HAPPY RELEASE DAY to THE ETERNA SOLUTION! Now available from Tor Books in digital and hardcover!

Order via Barnes and Noble - IndieBound (Order into your favorite local independent store!) - Amazon - Order Signed Copies via Leanna's Etsy Store!

About the book (Via Tor Books):

Unnatural howls echo across the Atlantic | Lady Liberty’s torch blazes with hellfire | Dead bodies shamble through the grounds of Columbia College.

It’s 1882 and two government divisions of paranormal investigators have completed a most harrowing task―stopping a demonic nobleman from taking over the British Parliament. Now the motley crew of psychics, scientists, scholars, and magicians must race across the ocean to Manhattan to protect it from evil forces they believe Moriel unleashed.
American Clara Templeton’s psychic powers have grown exponentially but she worries that defeating the sinister forces arrayed against them will cost her her life. Londoner Harold Spire, once a Scotland Yard detective, has had just about enough of the occult, though he has seen his team’s supernatural powers at work. Together, the American Eterna Commission and the British Omega Department hope to save New York City without destroying themselves.
In this climactic third installment of The Eterna Files series, Prism award-winning author Leanna Renee Hieber delivers a delightful Gaslamp fantasy set in 19th century New York and Washington D.C., rich with detail and embroidered with a cast of captivating characters.

The Eterna Files series
The Eterna Files
Eterna and Omega
The Eterna Solution
TONIGHT! Hometown signing! Cincinnati, OH at the West Chester Barnes and Noble - 6:30pm!
Event Page here!

NOV 17TH, An Epic Party co-hosted by the talented Wormwood & Gall at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan's Oldest (And Most Haunted) House! 6:30pm! ($15 cover includes wine, soda, food and museum admission!!)
Event Page here!

If you're late to the Eterna Files party, now is a perfect time to start! Both The Eterna Files and Eterna and Omega are on sale across various platforms in several editions!

Here's a free Eterna series Prequel novella to get you started or to deepen your experience in the Eterna world! Read THE SPARK for FREE via Tor now! It's a single post, no download necessary!
As always, your support is vital! Like what I do? Please tell friends! I'm in a niche genre and I rely on word of mouth to stay published! Also, reviews really help! Please take a second and leave an Amazon review or a review on any retail site you prefer!
Order via Barnes and Noble - IndieBound (Order into your favorite local independent store!) - Amazon - Signed Copies via Leanna's Etsy Store!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Eterna Solution launch parties & signed pre-orders!

Darlings! Deadlines and work demands have been off the charts. As an author of ghost stories and paranormal adventures and a ghost tour guide in Manhattan, you can imagine that September and October is the 'busy season' and goodness has it been a busy one indeed!

But we've a new book nearly here!! A wonderful celebration as it ties together the Eterna Files trilogy into an exciting conclusion! And we're going to have some GREAT launch parties!

About THE ETERNA SOLUTION (Via Tor Books):

Unnatural howls echo across the Atlantic | Lady Liberty’s torch blazes with hellfire | Dead bodies shamble through the grounds of Columbia College...

It’s 1882 and two government divisions of paranormal investigators have completed a most harrowing task―stopping a demonic nobleman from taking over the British Parliament. Now the motley crew of psychics, scientists, scholars, and magicians must race across the ocean to Manhattan to protect it from evil forces they believe Moriel unleashed.
American Clara Templeton’s psychic powers have grown exponentially but she worries that defeating the sinister forces arrayed against them will cost her her life. Londoner Harold Spire, once a Scotland Yard detective, has had just about enough of the occult, though he has seen his team’s supernatural powers at work. Together, the American Eterna Commission and the British Omega Department hope to save New York City without destroying themselves.
In this climactic third installment of The Eterna Files series, Prism award-winning author Leanna Renee Hieber delivers a delightful Gaslamp fantasy set in 19th century New York and Washington D.C., rich with detail and embroidered with a cast of captivating characters.

The Eterna Files series
The Eterna Files
Eterna and Omega
The Eterna Solution

THE ETERNA SOLUTION is available for pre-order wherever books are sold in digital and hardcover! If your local Barnes and Noble or independent bookstore isn't planning on ordering one in, ask them to! Ask your local library to stock a copy or two! IndieBound is a great way to order into any Independent Bookseller in your zip code or surrounding area, just follow this link! If you'd like a SIGNED and PERSONALIZED copy, check out the Autographed Books section of my Etsy Store, Torch and Arrow! I'll be sending autographed pre-orders out from my shop during release week. You're welcome to get any of my one-of-a-kind jewelry / accessories and a book together, they'll ship out at the same time! Just please let me know in the notes of your order how you would like your book signed, personalized! Thanks! All orders come with swag and goodies.


NOV 14TH, Release Day, hometown Cincinnati, OH at the West Chester Barnes & Noble - 6:30pm!
Event Page here. Please RSVP so we've got a head count, thanks!

NOV 17TH, An Epic Party co-hosted by the talented Wormwood & Gall at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan's Oldest (And Most Haunted) House! 6:30pm! ($15 cover includes wine, soda, food and museum admission!!)
Event Page here. Please RSVP for head count, thanks!

As always, your support keeps me going (literally, people buying my books keeps me in business), so thank you in advance, and thank you to those who I know have already pre-ordered via their favorite retailers!

If you're late to the Eterna Files party, now is a perfect time to start, both The Eterna Files and Eterna and Omega are on sale across various platforms in several editions!

Here's a free Eterna series Prequel novella to get you started or to deepen your experience in the Eterna world! Read THE SPARK for FREE via Tor now! It's a single post, no download necessary!

Please tell your friends! If you like the quirky, ghostly, magical worlds I create, please share, as word of mouth is the single best thing you can do for an author, as well as writing reviews, it helps more than you know, thanks!


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

DRAGONCON 2017 Schedule!


I'm so very thrilled to present my 2017 DragonCon schedule! I'll have copies of PERILOUS PROPHECY, a Strangely Beautiful prequel, on hand at all times for sale & signing, I'll also have jewelry, Pandora's Pets, and the rest of my books! (ETERNA & OMEGA is now here in mass market!)

Please note the AMAZING events like the inimitable Sherrilyn Kenyon's launch and the ever-popular Princess Alethea's Traveling Sideshow! At my Sunday Reading Hour, I'll give you a teaser of THE ETERNA SOLUTION coming in November!

Don't hesitate to come say hi at panels, I'll always be happy to sign books for you whenever you catch me! Hope to see you there!!

Title: InteNsity/Dragonsworn Launch Party!
Description: Celebrate #1 bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dragonsworn and the launch of InteNsity, the newest Chronicles of Nick novel! Come dressed to party with fellow fans and a few of Sherri’s favorite fantasy authors—costumes will be rewarded! Meet Sherri and get InteNsity before it even hits stores!
Time: Thu 07:00 pm Location: Regency VI-VII - Hyatt (Length: 4 Hours)
(Tentative Panelists: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Mari Mancusi)

Title: Princess Alethea's Traveling Sideshow
Description: Alethea Kontis and her misfit band of bestselling authors perform their hilarious annual variety show! Collectible gift bags for the first 40 attendees (sponsored by Sherrilyn Kenyon).
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: A707 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Gray Rinehart, Diana Peterfreund, Zoraida Cordova, Mari Mancusi)

Title: The Foiled Fable: Adult Themes in Victorian Classics
Description: The fairy tales we fondly remember from youth were darker and scarier before they were "cleaned" for the sake of the children. Our panel of authors and experts will talk about the origins of those stories, and the adult themes that the censors want you to forget.
Time: Fri 10:00 pm Location: Augusta - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber)

Title: Across the Veil: Ghosts, Spirits and Souls in UF
Description: Protagonists in urban fantasy deal with the gamut of supernatural beings, and not all of them have physical form, posing additional challenges.
Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Chastain 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber, E.J. Stevens, R.R. Virdi, Myke Cole, David B. Coe, Cherie Priest)

Title: Author Roundtable: The Magic and Technology of Building Alternate Worlds
Description: Be it alchemical spells or industrial revolution, many alternate history and steampunk worlds feature magic, fantastic technological marvels, or even both. But each choice shapes the worlds these authors build. This roundtable discuss worldbuilding and the balance between fantasy and science.
Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Augusta - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber, Anthony Francis, A. J. Hartley, David B. Coe, Jack Campbell, S.M. Stirling)

Title: Plotting or Plodding?
Description: Tired of the same, old plots? Discover creative ways to liven up your plotting.
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Debbie Viguié, Leanna Renee Hieber, David B. Coe, Jake Bible, Ed Masessa)

Title: Reading: Leanna Renee Hieber
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Techwood - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber)

Title: Series or Single Title?
Description: Writers wrangle with this question all the time. How do you decide whether to write single titles or expand into a series. Okay...Series. So how many books in a series?
Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber, Kathryn Hinds, James Minz, James A. Moore, Gail Z. Martin)

Title: Spiritualism and the Occult in Victorian Times
Description: While the Victorian era was a time of great technological advancement, many prominent citizens including Queen Victoria had a fascination with the occult. Come hear our panelists discuss spiritualism, seances, and the beginnings of serious scientific investigation into otherworldly phenomena.
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: Athens - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber, Gail Z. Martin)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Barnes & Noble glowingly reviews PERILOUS PROPHECY, a Strangely Beautiful novel

Hello Darlings!

Barnes and Noble has always been a brilliant supporter of me and my work, and I couldn't be more honored by this glowing review from The Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog's review of PERILOUS PROPHECY, a Strangely Beautiful prequel.

This is a very cross-genre work that will appeal to fans of YA, Romance, Fantasy, Historical, Suspense, Gothic, and light Horror. As with all my work, it would be rated "PG-13" in content.

If you're interested in this series and haven't begun it yet, this reviewer started right here with this first edition and found it a fantastic place to start. I hope you'll join her in reading (and reviewing) this book, a testament to hope and love in dark times.

From The Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog:

"Perilous Prophecy Is a Magical Journey into a World of Power and Light.
There is something truly magical about Leanna Renee Hieber’s writing. Every page of Perilous Prophecy is infused with it, and it will seep into you, changing you as you read.

Here is the story of the goddess Persephone, imprisoned within the darkness of the Whisper-world, a place born of the misery of humankind, only able to travel to the mortal world for brief restorative periods. To maintain the Balance, a Guard chosen to fend off the dark tendrils of that other place, to prevent them taking too strong a hold on the earthly realm.

Again and again, Persephone’s murdered love, Phoenix, along with five loyal muses—Heart, Intuition, Memory, Art, and a Healer—possess six mortals who will fight as the Guard. Every cycle, the Guard takes up the fight in a different time and city. This round falls on Cairo in the 1860s.
Beatrice Smith, chosen by Phoenix, and thus the Guard leader, must cast aside self-doubt and become someone her newfound companions can depend upon. Her second-in-command, Ibrahim, Intuition’s chosen vessel, is a source of compelling strength for them all. Now able to see the ghosts infesting Cairo, the Guard must work quickly to master their gifts and prepare for the coming darkness, for an ancient prophecy has been set in motion.

At the heart of Perilous Prophecy is one of the deepest love stories I’ve encountered in fantasy in some time. Actually, there are love stories woven throughout this exquisite novel—the bond between Persephone and Phoenix is more powerful and deeper than mere mortals could ever experience, but the love we see forming between Beatrice and Ibrahim, and the fraternal love growing within the Guard itself—these are loves we mortals can only dream of experiencing. Hieber deftly wields the power of words to create a world and a calling you’ll long to experience first-hand.

Ahmed, Heart’s chosen mortal, had visions of a great war on the horizon, even before becoming a member of the Guard. Yet the joy he feels in his heart is infectious, to both his companions and the reader. Despite battling menacing ghosts and watching Persephone’s painful time in the Whisper-world, this novel is overflowing with hope and light. A prequel to Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful, it’s laced with ominous threads of a prophecy still to come. But the encroaching darkness does not weigh down the beauty of this story.
I fell in love with the cast of characters. The strength of this story is bolstered by the strength of the bonds they form. Yes, there are ghosts, but this is more a story of living people, and the choices we all must make as we navigate our lives and responsibilities. Meanwhile, Hieber captures what feels like the purest essence of 1860s Cairo through the small details that brush the senses, but also through the acknowledgement by the characters of the harsh realities a motley Guard comprised of members from European and Egyptian backgrounds might face during the 1860s.

I am delighted to admit I have not yet read Strangely Beautiful, because it means I get to read it now, and spend more time in this world.
Perilous Prophecy is available now." - Shana DuBois, Barnes and Noble

Sunday, July 2, 2017

PERILOUS PROPHECY is here! And so is ETERNA AND OMEGA in paperback!

Perilous Prophecy is here! So is Eterna and Omega in paperback and reduced price digital!

Overview: Winner of the Prism Award for Best Fantasy Novel

“Tells a love story with exquisite detail.”—

Cairo in the 1860s is a bustling metropolis where people from all walks of life mix and mingle, mostly in complex harmony. When evil ghosts and unquiet spirits stalk the city’s streets, the Guard are summoned—six young men and women of different cultures, backgrounds, and faiths, gifted by their Goddess with great powers.  While others of the Guard embrace their duties, their leader, British-born Beatrice, is gripped by doubt. What right has she, a bookish, sheltered, eighteen-year-old, to lead others into battle? Why isn’t dark-eyed, compelling Ibrahim, who is stronger of will than Beatrice, the one in charge? Ghosts maraud through Cairo’s streets, heralding a terrible darkness. Beatrice and her Guard have little time to master their powers; a great battle looms as an ancient prophecy roars toward its final, deadly conclusion.
This enchanting prequel to Leanna Renee Hieber's gaslamp fantasy, Strangely Beautiful, returns to print after many years, edited and revised for Tor's publication


If you enjoyed Strangely Beautiful, be sure not to miss this prequel, filled with love and tenderness, amidst difficulties and darkness. This book is my father's favorite of mine (and he's a distinct critic so this means something), and it has a special place in my heart as something lyrical and transcendent. I hope you'll find it moving. It gives a sense of why and how to the origin of the series. This edition was barely out in print before its original publisher closed, so please take a moment and order a copy, digital or in paperback, and please help support it as while it was critically acclaimed, it never was able to gain any audience traction or sales when first released. Order a signed copy from WORD in Brooklyn (put personalization requests in the notes of the order), Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Amazon, or wherever books are sold. If your local library doesn't have it, request that they buy a copy for their collection! If you can post a review on Amazon or any retailer sites, it helps a lot!

ALSO out this week is the mass-market paperback edition of ETERNA AND OMEGA! The digital price is lowered to match the mass-market so be sure not to miss this thrilling sequel to the Eterna Files, where love trumps hate in a battle between epic, dark forces and localized magic on the haunted streets of New York and London in 1882. Order from Barnes and Noble or your favorite book outlet!

While you're at it, you can PRE-ORDER the finale in the ETERNA series, THE ETERNA SOLUTION, coming November 14th from Tor Books!

Thanks, feel free to share with others, and as always, happy haunting!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

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


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



And Now for the LAUNCH PARTIES!
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…)
             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!

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
Cincinnati, OH
April 27-31
Literary Director, Guest Author
Piscataway, NJ
May 4-7
Literary Guest
Laconia, NH
May 18-22
Literary Director and Guest
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

Atlanta, GA
Labor Day Weekend
Guest, Panelist

More to come: See You There!

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!
I've also joined Instagram!
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!