Today I am welcoming the very talented author Leanna Palermo to the Willow Tree. Leanna is the author of "Swallowed-A True Story." I read Swallowed and found it difficult to put down. Leanna's honesty about her life and the happiness and tragedy she endured touched me. I think you will find it a very good read. Welcome Leanna.
What are you currently working on and when do you
plan to release your next book?
Currently I’m compiling a couple of decades worth of poetry
destined to become “Before They Knew.” This
is a book that I always knew I’d write but whose name and specific goal “came
to me” while having my very first Reiki session, almost a year before the main
character came into my life. That whole
story I wrote about in Swallowed: A True
Story, so this book of poetry is a bit of a prequel/sequel to Swallowed. And you can read the excerpt
by clicking here.
Do you have a favorite genre for your writing or do
you write whatever moves you?
Both, really. I
write what moves me, which is typically in the form of poetry. My first book is a spiritual memoir covering
the topics of child abuse, children of lesbian mothers, bullying, cutting, teen
suicide, all culminating in a love story that transforms a heart and soul to
believing in life after death and the true nature of our beings. My most enjoyable reads are usually
historical fiction or non-fiction, but I often stray outside generalizations…
What is the best piece of advice you were given
I joined my first writer’s group one summer, and in
September I found a website, NaNoWriMo.
This is an (inter)national “competition” where you are challenged to
write 50,000 words in 30 days, held each November. My momentum just kicked into overdrive. I just knew this was my time. I reached the goal in 19 days, completing the
first draft of Swallowed: A True Story,
after a 16 year gestation period. I
found this group of people most encouraging and just knowing they were “out
there,” struggling or not to finish the month’s quota, I felt supported. Their presence at that time in my life, via
emails and regular website motivational excerpts, was the best “advice” I could
Do you have a special spot where you like to write
or are you a “have lap top will travel” writer?
I love my home, my home office and my computer. (She may be listening and I’ve found sweet
talk is better than my Sicilian tendencies)
What is your favorite book and favorite author?
My favorites change as I change, but as long as there is
good dialogue, good scene setting and a skill on the part of the author to be
genuine and make me feel the characters, I’m thrilled and will likely buy
everything they write!
When did you discover your passion for writing?
Not sure exactly what age my passion made itself known, but
I remember writing a deeply profound poem on the qualities of love resembling a
young kitten when I was in third grade.
That was about when I started journaling, too, which I am convinced kept
me sane during my darkest times…
Do you have a favorite beverage or snack you must
have while writing?
Teeccino or Kombucha, depending on the temperature outside!! I never eat while writing though, because She
despises crumbs and sticky things, preferring to be clean…She being the
computer, once again.
What inspires you?
Life! That pull that
I feel when I am in the flow, instead of stressing out over some minutia of my
day. Reading a great poem, a great
Do you have a favorite vacation destination and do
you write while vacationing?
I had my first outline of a novel drop in my head while
sailing for the first time. A real
momunmentus event, as if a switch was thrown and I was so utterly relaxed, it
all formed seemingly right in front of me!
Took notes and haven’t touched it again since, but it’s there, waiting…
Do you have any advice for other writers on any
subject you choose?
Wow, this is a tough one.
First, being in a position of giving advice on this topic seems
premature and surreal. Second, I think
our best advice comes from within, ultimately.
I guess I would say, just keep writing, and never toss anything until
you’ve distilled every last morsel from it. (which may take a lifetime!)
Any last thoughts you would like to add?
This is the life, “every juicy and jaundiced morsel,” and
I’m thrilled to say I’m a published author now, and I just know that everyone out there loves my first book, can’t wait for
the next, it’s just that they don’t
know it yet! (quote from Swallowed: A True Story)
Palermo, D.C.is an energy healer, author and poet. Traditionally
trained as a chiropractor, she became a holistic therapist through clinical
practice as a Network Spinal Analysis Practitioner. After a decade of
studying nutrition, she went on to become a raw food enthusiast and a Natural
Leanna wrote Swallowed: A True Story after grieving the loss of a spirit partner, when she
experienced multiple paranormal events, after death communications and dream
like visits from those who had passed to the afterlife. Further, Swallowedemerged
as a message of inspiration and ultimately, as a way to stimulate thought on
the true nature of our beings.
Today I am welcoming the very talented author Joanne Lessner to the Willow Tree. Joanne is the author of The Temporary Detective and Pandora's Bottle. Welcome Joanne.
Sydney Lessner is the author of Pandora’s
Bottle, a novel inspired by the true story of the world’s most expensive
bottle of wine (Flint Mine Press), which was selected as one of Paperback
Dolls’ top five books of 2010. The
Temporary Detective (Dulcet Press) introduces Isobel Spice, aspiring
actress and resourceful office temp turned amateur sleuth. No stranger to the
theatrical world, Joanne enjoys an active performing career in both musical
theater and opera. With her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, she
has co-authored several musicals including the cult hit Fermat s Last Tango and Einstein
s Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. Her play, Critical Mass, received its Off Broadway
premiere in October 2010 as the winner of the 2009 Heiress Productions
Playwriting Competition. She is a regular contributing writer to Opera News and holds a B.A. in music,
summa cum laude, from Yale University.
What are you currently working on
and when do you plan to release your next book?
into the homestretch on the second Isobel Spice novel, Bad Publicity, which I’m planning to release early next year. I also
just finished an Isobel short story for an anthology edited by Jen Blood to be published
by Adian Press in the fall. Besides that, I’m working on the book to a musical
I’m writing with my husband on commission for the Signature Theater in
Arlington, Virginia. It’s an adaptation of the Wilkie Collins novella The Haunted Hotel. Gothic, spooky fun!
Do you have a favorite genre for
your writing or do you write whatever moves you?
try to let content dictate form, so I bounce back and forth among novels,
plays, musicals, and screenplays depending on which medium I think will be most
effective for the story I want to tell. I love writing with my husband—we’ve written
five musicals together—but there is something I cherish about the solitary
craft of novel writing, or noveltry as my ten year-old daughter calls it.
What is the best piece of advice
you were given about writing?
fellow writer Marc Acito: it’s amazing how much you can get done in five-minute
bursts. It’s absolutely true. It’s very freeing to realize you don’t need to carve
out a huge chunk of time to write. There’s less pressure to produce brilliance,
because, hey, it’s only five minutes! At the same time, you can’t use lack of
time as an excuse. But that’s how books get written, even if you do block out
an entire afternoon: bit by bit. I wrote my first novel, Pandora’s Bottle, in three months, largely while the pasta water
Do you have a special spot where
you like to write or are you a “have lap top will travel” writer?
at my desk. My husband sits three feet away from me at his keyboard, composing or
practicing with headphones. It’s very companionable.
What is your favorite book and
that’s so hard! I will say that the book that influenced me most as a writer
was Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s
Men, which I read in AP Lit my senior year in high school. The funny thing
is that I almost didn’t take the course because of that book! A friend a year
ahead of me was reading it, and I scanned the blurb and thought, “A slog about
southern politics? I’m just going to hate this!” Boy, was I wrong. It changed
When did you discover your passion
always written. In fourth grade I wrote a seven-page murder mystery play for my
class. I came across the script recently in my parents’ basement, and my
daughter and I read it aloud in English accents. We had a good laugh over it—it
was pretty bad! But I really got hooked in eleventh grade when my father
brought home an electric typewriter for me to type my term paper. I finished
the paper, but was having so much fun typing that I kept going and wound up
writing a novel—also recently unearthed in my parents’ basement, but
significantly better than the play.
Do you have a favorite beverage
or snack you must have while writing?
currently addicted to Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea. I also like Trident
Layers gum in strawberry/citrus. So I guess that makes me equal parts little
old lady and tween girl.
What inspires you?
great theater, hearing great music, reading great books. Not only do they inspire
me to act, sing and write, I find that witnessing other people’s
accomplishments tangibly makes me better at mine.
Do you have a favorite vacation
destination and do you write while vacationing?
big cruisers in my family. It’s the ultimate relaxation vacation. I never write
while we’re away, although my husband and I do enjoy bouncing ideas around. We
often use it as a time to take stock of our projects, which can be easier at a
distance. That said, we did scribble down ideas for our very first musical on a
napkin while drinking hot chocolate at Demel in Vienna on our honeymoon.
Do you have any advice for other
writers on any subject you choose?
Thurber put it best: don’t get it right, just get it written. Try not to judge
yourself every step of the way. I’m pretty self-critical as a performer, but
for some reason, when I write, I’m able to get out of my way and let the ideas
flow through me onto the page. A lot of times I feel like I’m channeling. It
can be a real leap of faith, but you have to give up control to get control. It’s
true of performing as well.
Any last thoughts you would like
been very fortunate in my life to be able to juggle all my creative pursuits:
writing, singing, and acting. Sometimes I get frustrated when I see other
people shoot to the top, but I honestly don’t think I’d have been as happy
having to choose one career over the others. I think you have to do what fulfills
you creatively, whether it’s one thing or ten.
The Temporary Detective
Isobel Spice Novel
Joanne Sydney Lessner
Dulcet Press, April 9, 2012
light typing…and murder.
breaking into show business is hard? Try landing a temp job without office
skills. That’s the challenge facing aspiring actress Isobel Spice when she
arrives in New York City, fresh out of college and deficient in PowerPoint.
After being rejected by seven temp agencies for her lack of experience, Isobel
sweet-talks recruiter James Cooke into letting her cover a last-minute vacancy
at a bank. New to his own job and recently sober, James takes a chance on
Isobel, despite his suspicion that she’s a trouble-magnet. His misgivings are
borne out by lunchtime, when Isobel stumbles across a dead secretary in a
bathroom stall and discovers an untapped talent for detective work—a
qualification few other temps, let alone actresses, can claim.
Joanne Sydney Lessner
Flint Mine Press, June 12, 2010
happens when you pin all your hopes on a single event and it all goes terribly
wrong? When that event is the uncorking of a fabled bottle of 1787 Chateau
Lafite once owned by Thomas Jefferson, the repercussions are emotional,
financial, theatrical and, in every way, unexpected. When Sy Hampton purchases
this legendary bottle, which, through a quirk of preservation, may yet be
drinkable he shocks the wine community by choosing to uncork it privately with
a female companion, rather than at a special public event. Sy intends the
evening to be a quiet reassertion of his virility in the throes of middle age,
but for ambitious restaurateur Annette Lecocq, the event offers an irresistible
opportunity for much-needed publicity. Their competing agendas are not the only
things to collide on the fateful night. Caught in the crossfire are Tripp
Macgregor, a waiter on the verge of his long-awaited Broadway debut, and
Valentina D Ambrosio, the beautiful but unworldly working girl from Brooklyn Sy
hopes to impress.
are excerpts from both books on my website in flipbook format]
Today I am welcoming the very talented author Wayne Zurl to the Willow Tree. Wayne is the author of the Detective Sam Jenkins series of books. I recently finished Wayne's book "A Labor Day Murder." It was a great read and Sam Jenkins is a character you will find hard to forget. Welcome Wayne.
Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.
He has had 3 novels and 14 novelettes from his Sam Jenkins Mystery series traditionally published.
What are you currently working on and when do you plan to release your next book?
I just finished my first round of self-editing for a full-length novel called PIGEON RIVER BLUES. It’s been around for a while and I kept dreaming up new titles, but I think this one will stick. Chief Sam Jenkins reluctantly finds himself thrown into the backstage world of big name country and western music when he’s asked to guard a beautiful and controversial singer named C.J. Proffitt. The story involves hate mail, death threats, a right wing group who call themselves The Coalition for American Family Values, and a potentially explosive ending.
As soon as I spruce up Sam’s new adventure, I’ll see if my editor is ready to read it.
Another book called HEROES & LOVERS is currently under contract and just about ready to go into final formatting. I saw cover proofs the other day. It’s scheduled for release later this year. Here’s my suggestion for the dust jacket summary:
Sam Jenkins might say, “Falling in love is like catching a cold. It’s infectious and involuntary. Just don’t sneeze on any innocent people.” But Sam doesn’t always follow his common sense philosophy.
Becoming infatuated with a married policeman and getting kidnapped never made TV reporter Rachel Williamson’s list of things to do before Christmas. Helping her friend, Sam Jenkins, the ex-New York detective and now police chief in Prospect, Tennessee, with a fraud investigation would get her an exclusive story. It all sounded exciting and made her station manager happy. But her abduction by a mentally disturbed fan, ruined several days of her life.
When Jenkins learns Rachel has gone missing, he cancels holiday leaves, mobilizes the personnel at Prospect PD, and enlists his friends from the FBI to help find her.
During the early stages of the investigation, Sam develops several promising leads, but as they begin to fizzle, his prime suspect drops off the planet and all the resources of the FBI aren’t helping.
With an abundance of luck and after some old-fashioned pressure on an informant produces an important clue, the chief leads his team deep into the Smoky Mountains to rescue his friend. But after Rachel is once again safe at home, he finds their problems are far from over.
Do you have a favorite genre for your writing or do you write whatever moves you?
I’m no literary genius and I admit having more memory than imagination so, I stick to writing police mysteries. I can fictionalize and embellish cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about and transplant them from New York to Tennessee fairly easily. I believe in “write what you know.” With twenty years of insider information on law enforcement, I can litter my books with important technicalities and interesting tidbits of cop information you just can’t get by attending writer’s conferences.
Having said all that, I think I’d like to try writing a western some day.
What is the best piece of advice you were given about writing?
I knew nothing about the fiction business when I began writing a book in 2006. I thought if you could present a good finished product, you’d find an agent and let him or her peddle your book to a publisher. That was quite a misconception. As the rejections trickled in, I learned about the importance of current trends and how some famous names couldn’t get a job writing greeting cards in the 21st century.
Two established authors told me essentially the same thing: “Never give up. There’s someone out there who will publish your book.” One said, “You don’t have to be good, you have to be marketable.” In essence, he meant don’t take the rejections personally. The other said, “Sometimes tenacity trumps talent. Plenty of bestsellers are unworthy of the name.”
Here’s one of the few responses I got from an agent: “Your main character is a sixty-year-old retired New York detective who finds a job as a Tennessee police chief. That’s not exactly trendy. Consider making him a young vampire private-eye working in Orange County.”
I kept my middle-aged cop idea and reverted to that tenacity thing, trying to sell what someone might see as talent.
Do you have a special spot where you like to write or are you a “have lap top will travel” writer?
I’m very old-fashioned and write all my stuff on a lined pad with a stolen motel pen. Generally, I sit in a wingback chair in the living room and go at it. However, I could get comfortable in other quiet spots. Once I finish, I try to read my handwriting and transpose my scribbling to a Word document.
What is your favorite book and favorite author?
I tend to like series writers and become more attracted to the characters than one particular story. I could never narrow my choice down to one book. I like several authors for various reasons. Robert B. Parker taught me lots about telling a story in the fewest possible words. I like his minimalist style and try to emulate it. James Lee Burke can write descriptions of people and places like few others. Sometimes he’s absolutely poetic. Bernard Cornwell is a master of historical fiction and writes action scenes so effectively I often need a martini after one of his battles. That other guy from Long Island, who writes mysteries, Nelson DeMille, provides his main character, Detective John Corey, with endless, high quality smartass dialogue. That’s very realistic in a cop book. And there’s the father of hard-boileddetective fiction, Raymond Chandler, who wrote some of the best metaphors ever printed.
When did you discover your passion for writing?
I fooled around writing non-fiction magazine articles for ten years with a bit of success and I enjoyed it. When conjuring up new ideas for “thrilling” pieces on Colonial American history became more and more difficult, I decided to try fiction. And it really clicked with me. I’m very happy to see my work published, but if no one bought another story, I’d still write to amuse myself, and keep me from playing in the traffic. I’ve still got plenty of war stories to tell.
Do you have a favorite beverage or snack you must have while writing?
That depends on the weather. Right now it’s 3:30, 85 degrees outside, and there’s a gin and tonic within arm’s length.
What inspires you?
I’d need a subscription to Dial-A-Shrink to determine why I get my ideas or inspiration. I might be doing 70 on an Interstate or my eyes click open at 3 a.m. and something comes to mind that would make a good story. I don’t question these infusions of inspiration, but embrace the enthusiasm and just go with them. If I really get on a roll, I’ll stop my current project and take off with the new thing until it’s at least roughed out. At my age I need to get good ideas on paper or I’ll forget them.
Do you have a favorite vacation destination and do you write while vacationing?
You sent me this questionnaire a few days before we went on vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I intended to complete these eleven questions and work on a half finished novelette while sitting on the porch of our rented log cabin. However, we never relax on vacation. We fished for lake trout and walleye, rented a boat to cruise Portage Lake and the Houghton Canal System, visited oodles of restored lighthouses and historic homes, traipsed through old copper mines, and ate some excellent food. Never once did pen touch paper.
We travel a lot and generally to different places. But we’ve been to Scotland and the UK thirteen times, so I guess it’s my favorite spot.
Do you have any advice for other writers on any subject you choose?
There’s plenty of good advice out there like never stop reading well-written books, read your work aloud to see if the cadence pleases you, when writing dialogue, be sure to give each character a unique voice, and much more. I learned a lot about writing by spending a couple of years posting chapters on an on-line writer’s workshop. If you find a sincere group willing to assist each other you’re a winner. In writing, two heads (or more) aren’t just better than one, they’re essential. And I again mention the advice given to me: “Never give up.” In the face of rejection and frustration, you must continue. If you can objectively say your work is worth publishing, you will find a way. I remember a high school coach saying, “Toughness is a quality of the mind. Without it physical development is a mockery.” The samegoes for writing. If you give up easily, your career is over. Be tough. Hang in there.
Any last thoughts you would like to add?
I guess this is where I can throw modesty out the window and tell everyone about my first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, being named Best Mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards and winning 3 medals, including 1st Runner-Up at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards. And before I forget, if you like audio books or eBooks, I’ve got fourteen novelettes in production or under contract available in those formats with a bunch having made it to the publisher’s best seller list.
Over nine million people visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park every year. Take a chance and read one of the Sam Jenkins Smoky Mountain mysteries to see how a former New York cop integrates his style of police work into beautiful East Tennessee.
Thanks, Marianne, for allowing me to answer your questions and meet your followers. If anyone is looking for a summer getaway and think those nine million visitors can’t be wrong, try the Smoky Mountains. You might see Sam Jenkins driving his restored ’67 Austin-Healey. wz
Today I am welcoming the very talented
author Jen Blood to the Willow Tree. Jen is the author of the book All the Blue Eyed Angels. I finished Jen’s
book over the weekend and I recommend it to anyone looking for a fast paced,
unique mystery with twists and turns in every chapter. I am looking forward to
the release of the sequel this month. Welcome Jen.
are you currently working on and when do you plan to release your next book?
I’m currently working on the
final final final touches for Sins of the Father, the second novel in my
Erin Solomon mystery series. It will be out this week.
you have a favorite genre for your writing or do you write whatever moves you?
I love character-driven work, but
I like the evolution of a character to be strongly influenced by outside
forces. Which frequently requires a strong plot. Mysteries and thrillers are
great for that, because there are so many tumultuous things happening that they
invariably change the course of a character’s development.
is the best piece of advice you were given about writing?
Write!!! Keep your pen moving or
your fingers flying, don’t look back, don’t second guess yourself. If you
really want to be a writer, the only thing to get you to a true level of
mastery is time, discipline, and a hell of a lot of words.
you have a special spot where you like to write or are you a “have lap top will
Somewhere quiet, ideally
surrounded by nature. I just moved to a gorgeous new place with a deck
overlooking a pond… I’ve been putting a lot of time in out there with my laptop
and my dogs.
is your favorite book and favorite author?
Yikes, just one book? Hmm.
Sentimentally speaking, I think my favorite book is The House at Pooh Corner,
by AA Milne. My favorite author is Dennis Lehane.
did you discover your passion for writing?
My dad used to have me tell him
bedtime stories when I was little, instead of him reading them to me. I think I
got hooked then.
you have a favorite beverage or snack you must have while writing?
Cereal is my go-to. Shredded
wheat with fresh blueberries. Mmm.
Great writing – whether in books,
film, or TV. Music. Nature. Solitude.
you have a favorite vacation destination and do you write while vacationing?
Oh, gawd. I have dream vacation
destinations of Costa Rica or New Zealand, but I haven’t actually had a
vacation in five or six years. If I were on vacation, however, I imagine I
would definitely write. It wouldn’t feel like much of a vacation if I wasn’t!
you have any advice for other writers on any subject you choose?
Read! Anything and everything you
can get your hands on, but make a point of reading the very best of the best –
the critically acclaimed classics in your genre. Pay attention to how your
favorite writers put novels together, from sentence structure to larger things
like pacing and plot resolution. Reading and writing are the tried and true
best ways to become a better writer.
last thoughts you would like to add?
Just that my mystery, All the
Blue-Eyed Angels, is free on Amazon on July 3rd and 4th,
and the second novel in the series will be out this week. If you haven’t read
it yet, I hope you’ll check it out! I’m also doing a blog tour all this month,
so you can pop over to my website at http://erinsolomon.com/ for full tour stops and
Jen Blood is author of the Amazon bestselling mystery All the Blue-Eyed
Angels, the first novel in the Erin Solomon series. The second novel in the
series is out in July. She is a social media and online marketing strategist
for Gauss Media, does social media consulting for authors, and runs the popular
mystery website, http://bloodwrites.com.