Saturday, August 23, 2014

Author Saturday Spotlight: Leta Blake *Interview and Giveaway*

I don't always remember the moment I become a fan of an author. I think I sort of fell into fanhood with Leta Blake before I even read a word. Everyone kept going on and on about this book called The River Leith. I, of course like so many, put it on my TBR. One day there was a giveaway. A chance to win a signed copy of The River Leith. I tried and I won (Along with a few others) When the book came in the mail I sat down opened it up and fell in love.

I knew very quickly that Leta Blake was someone I was going to always want to read. As soon as I finished it I bought Training Season. Didn't even read the blurb just bought it.

When an author grabs you with just one of their books a sort of trust grows and that's how it is with Leta Blake. She has never let me down. SHE is a fabulous author!!! That is why she is my Spotlight Author today.

Let's get to know some of her work, shall we?

Memory is everything.

After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.

For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach's choices may come back to haunt him.

Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.

Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don't come cheap, and Matty can't afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.

When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.

But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?

You can of course see all her books by going to her Goodreads page Leta Blake on GR or to her Amazon page where you can also purchase her books Leta Blake on Amazon

Leta Blake is doing a READER'S CHOICE Giveaway! So you will be able to choose from any of her books (Minus anthologies) to win! YAY!

First, I have an interview with the amazing author. It's always interesting and fun to see inside their head and I had a blast with Leta!


 As best you can, describe the feeling when you published your very first book?

You know, it wasn't what I was expecting, that's for sure. I'd always imagined that having a book accepted and published with a house would be a very validating and thrilling moment. I was excited at first when Keira and I pitched our fairy tales idea to a publisher and they accepted. But the reality of what happened pretty much from that point forward with that publisher completely destroyed the joy I felt at the beginning. It was everything from an incredibly misrepresentative cover for the first book, to changing editors three times, to a technical mishap on the day the first book went live, to being treated like I was a bother and a nuisance whenever I asked a simple question, to discovering their method for requesting reviews basically guaranteed no reviews would be had. It was so bad that on the release day for the first book, I spent several hours crying with frustration, anger, and disappointment. My experience with that publisher did not vastly improve from that point forward. So, all in all, I guess the feeling I had the day my very first book came out was one of extreme disappointment. I was too upset with everything to even be all that nervous. The reader response to the book was lovely, though. That was the beautiful silver lining. 

 How much research goes into your books and have any of your researches taken you anywhere interesting?

Oh, I love research! I can't imagine trying to write a book without the power of the interwebs, though, because I have to look up information every five minutes sometimes. I certainly learned more about cattle ranching and goat farming than I ever expected while writing Training Season. Especially the stuff about raising goat meat for Halal markets. Though I'd picked up some information about that back when I was reading Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favorite books, by the way) a lot of the details, like what breeds of goats are raised in Montana, what are the requirements for raising them, etc, were all things that needed to be accurate for the story, and yet I certainly read a lot more about it all than was used. It's amazing how much research can go into a throw-away sentence or two! 

As for things I've researched as a writer, I'll just list a few: reptiles for a zoo, the construction of dovecotes--pigeon houses--and the history of pigeon breeding, figure skating, how to run a ranch, the parts of a bird feathers, the myths around Lucifer's fall, trans*women's experiences both personal and general, and much more! One of the my favorite things about writing is that my characters prompt me to learn something new every day.

 Training Season tore my heart apart in the best way. Do you delve into the emotions while you write? How consuming is it?

I'm so glad to hear that Training Season moved you! When I'm writing emotional scenes, I do try to stay very connected to my own heart and react as empathetically as I can to the characters, describing emotions as thoroughly as possible. I sometimes have to go back over a scene and layer in a bit more emotion, but usually it's the opposite: I have to take out where I went too heavy handed with it. I also depend on music to help me hit those emotional tones. Listening to songs that move me in the right ways allows me to get a grip on the emotions the characters are showing. In general, though, I don't cry when writing. I found with Training Season, though, that on my very last read through before publication, once everything was basically said and done, there was a certain point that made me cry, and I called my best friend and was like, "Oh my God, I made myself cry with my book!" It was a bit of a surprise that I was so moved by them after all the times I'd gone over that book!

In The River Leith you had me thinking, What would I do if I lost the last 3 years of my life... So I ask you, what would you do?

Funnily enough, I've never asked myself that question. You'd think I would have, but I was so much more wrapped up in what Leith was going to do that I never considered myself. Part of me feels like it would be okay--I'd still remember my husband and my kid, though losing three years of her life would be hard, no doubt. Ages five to eight are important years. I suppose I'd have to get to know her in a way since she's grown so much. Still, I'd have the most important people in my life still in my mind and heart. I would have lost all of my publishing memories, though. That would be sad to lose the memories of how thrilling and amazing it was to see Training Season go to #4 and it would be awful to lose the memories of exactly why I decided to self-publish. 

What made you get into writing?

I was writing stories from the time I was a small child. For many years, though, I put it aside because I was told that no one can make a living writing. Instead, I decided to become a psychologist and headed down that path for a long time, studying people, what makes them tick. I never realized that dream, though, for various reasons that I'll spare you (oh, life!) and now I think it's because it was never the right dream anyway. I started writing again in my late twenties, mainly as a way to cope with a devastating depression (also oh, life!), and it saved my life. It was mainly fanfiction, but the school of fanfiction can teach a person a ton of writing skills if they apply themselves and use skilled beta. I wouldn't trade my education via fandom for the world. 

Can you tell us about any future projects you're working on now?

The good news is that I'm working on a Training Season sequel and have a third book of Matty/Rob worked out in my head. The bad news is that I have no idea when it will be completed. Additional good news is that I've got another book, Smoky Mountain Dreams, that is about 70% complete, but since Matty and Rob hijacked my brain with their sequel, I can't say when it will be done either. I've got a four book series about one of my favorite characters ever, Peter, about 70% finished as well (books 1 & 2 are basically done, book 3 is 80% finished, and book 4 hasn't been started yet) and who knows when those will see the light of day either! Essentially, I'm following the muse, and right now she's with Matty and Rob and the entire Training Season universe. But if she switches allegiances back to one of these other books, I might have a release sooner than I expected. But who knows, my friend. Who knows. At this point, I'm sort of resigned to the idea that I might not have a book out for a year. 

What is the most difficult part (from start to finish) about writing and publishing a book?

If you asked me on another day, my answer my change, but right now it really is just believing that I can do it. I'm at a point with multiple projects where I'm like a LOL-cat in that I'm all, "I Can Haz Book?" but the answer seems to be NO YOU CANNOT. Heh. It's odd. I've got five books out now and yet with every book there's a point I reach where I think, "Uh, I don't think I can make a book. I don't think I know how." And that's where I am right now with all my projects. I know, though, that the only way out is through, and so forward I march, and I'll probably somehow make a book in the end. But, really, gosh, just believing that I can and will is hard sometimes. Like today. 

Will you be attending and conventions or are you more of a private writer?

I attended Rainbow Con and loved it so much! I will be back there next year. I absolutely loved being there among other writers in the genre, talking shop, and learning things from each other. I will say that being there with them went farther toward me feeling like a "real author" than anything else. More than seeing Training Season go up the charts, or getting reviews, or even getting the money for royalties deposited in my bank account. And oh my goodness, meeting readers who had read my books? Talk about holy squee-bombs! It was absolutely lovely!

As for attending other conventions, it's really about time and money. As a writer who has a full-time day job, as a mother and a wife, finding the cash, the childcare, and the vacation time to attend other conventions is hard. I think I'm going to stick to Rainbow Con again for this year and reassess next year. It depends on publication, too. If I get more books out, I might have some money to spend on the flights, etc, if the books do well enough. Oh, the realities of the author's life! 

In your WHOLE life, have there been or are there still authors that inspire you?

Absolutely! I have been inspired by Vikram Seth, Eknath Easwaran, Carol L. Flinders, Ginn Hale, Catherynne Valente, Anne Sexton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and, more recently, by Darrah Glass (my best friend who has a wonderful gay romance series coming out soon)

To follow Leta in Social Media or on her website here are her links:

So it's a reader's choice so you can choose any Leta Blake ebook to win. Winner will receive an email Friday if they've won. I'll ask you what book, format and what email. I will then let Leta know and she will send it to you. 

I want to thank Leta Blake, again, for doing this and for letting us play inside her brain for a bit! 

Thank you all and good luck! 
   a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I loved Training season and Matty. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. I know I had a book hangover after!!! Good luck :)

    2. Aw, that makes me happy to hear! Thank you! :D

  2. Great interview Mere. Leta's an excellent author, and got her own bookshelf amongst my books on Goodreads after Training Season...which was really impressive and SO emotional. The River Leith was just as good, and I cried buckets. Many congrats Leta. :)

    1. Thank you, Bev! That is amazing to read! Wow! Totally made my Saturday!! :D Possibly my week! :D

  3. I loved Training Season, and The River Leith is next on my reading list. Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. I'm so thrilled that you liked Training Season! Good luck on this giveaway! <3

  4. I loved The River Leith! I need to read Training Season soon!

    1. So happy you liked The River Leith! :D Thank you for your interest in Training Season! Good luck on the drawing!

  5. I read Stalking Dreams and enjoyed it, though was hoping for more! I am excited to read Training Season! Thanks for the chance to win!

    1. Ah, yes, Stalking Dreams! There is actually going to be a whole prequel to that and a sequel, too. One day. I've got over 50k written of the prequel. So there will be more! I just can't say when it will get published. It always seems that something is in the way of getting more things finished. But the Stalking Dreams series will have its day! :D Thanks for your interest! Good luck!

  6. I'm pretty new to Leta Blake's books:( But I hope to read some of Leta's books soon;)
    Thank you for the giveaway!!

    1. Thanks for the interest, Alex! Good luck on the giveaway! :D

  7. Love training season and the river Leith! ����

    1. Always love your enthusiasm, Vicki!! :D <3

  8. Hi Leta,

    I absolutely loved Trainings season. The book kept me pracitcally glued to my reader. LOL. Couldn't stopy reading

    1. This made my morning to read! Or, uh, afternoon! Hello! This day has flown by! LOL! Thank you for letting me know!

  9. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lee! Good luck on the drawing! :D

  10. I have not had a chance to read Leta's books, but I would love to and they are on my wish list. So thank you for a chance to win one.... :) I was first particular drawn by the covers then the stories, so human, so deep and compelling, not a simple read, full of angst, strong characters and story lines, still romantic, very appealing. Thank you for a chance to win one of Lena's books :D