Welcome Guest & Debut Author Leigh Duncan!

Harlequin American author Leigh Duncan believes solid relationships lay the foundation for true happiness. Married to the love of her life and mother of two wonderful young adults, Leigh writes the kind of books she loves to read, ones where home, family and community are key to the happy endings everyone deserves. Her debut book, The Officer’s Girl, is in stores now.

Leigh (who is a friend of our own Keri Ford!) says:

In November, when I received the fantastic news that Harlequin American would buy my second book, an April 15th deadline seemed like more than enough time to write it. After all, I already had three solid chapters and a synopsis in the proposal. Even better, I’d taken April Khilstrom’s Book In A Week class, so I had a rough draft. A very rough draft, but a rough draft. So, six months seemed like plenty of time.

Anyone see the first flaw in my reasoning? Yeah, mid-November to mid-April is five months, not six. Throw in my son’s out-of-town wedding, edits for my first sale, The Officer’s Girl, Christmas, the flu (twice), and before I knew what happened, I had a book to write and three months to complete it. Now, before you push the “That’s Easy” button, I should probably tell you that I’ve completed five manuscripts. Each of them took, well, let’s just say longer than three months. Oh, and that first draft? Well, it looked a whole lot rougher once the revision letter arrived. In short, to make this deadline, I’d have to resort to drastic measures.

I cancelled trips, put friendships on hold, postponed doctor’s appointments and even bought a treadmill so I wouldn’t waste time going to and from the gym. (That last part didn’t work so well. As everyone knows, treadmills make dandy clothes racks.) No lunch dates. No shopping excursions. Not even a manicure or pedicure. (Oh, the horror!)
Instead, I wrote. Ten hours a day. Six days a week. For fifteen weeks.
You may have heard me say it takes a village to write a book. Most of the people in mine were understanding, if not gung-ho, about my self-imposed exile. Some, however, not so much. One, in particular, kept calling to ask, “Why? Why work so hard?”
I’ve asked myself the same question. All writers do. The answers are as varied as our many genres.
Money motivates a lot of writers. Or maybe we should word that, the dream of making lots of money. To be honest, most writers don’t make enough to buy our own private, tropical islands. (I’ll be very happy when my writing earns enough so I can take a vacation on one.)
Fame motivates other people to write. Who doesn’t want the star treatment? A hotel room with a view other than mine, which usually overlooks the a/c unit? But I’m getting an awfully late start to achieve that notoriety. So, fame isn’t where it’s at for me.
As Easter approached, one of my writers’ groups discussed altruism as a reason for writing. I stand in awe of those who write “for the greater good.” I wish I could be that selfless, but writing is hard work and, sadly, I’m not very good saint material.
The past few weeks, a couple of reviewers have said some very nice things about my first book. (Just in case you’re interested, The Officer’s Girl is available now from Harlequin American Romance.) At Romance B(uy) the Book, Becke Davis said I gave the term “beach read” a whole new meaning (in a good way). Crystal at CK’S Kwips and Kritiques called The Officer’s Girl “heartwarming” with “very believable characters” and said my secondary characters were “brilliant.” Venus at Coffee Time Romance & More said I created “a strong story from its stormy beginning to its happy ending. The setting is a fabulous choice and the description so realistic that I could almost smell the s’mores at the (storm) shelter.”
Great words, right? They definitely gave me warm fuzzies. But as any writer will tell you, the journey from pen and paper to the book shelf can take years. That’s a looooong time to wait for accolades.
So, why write? For me, it’s a calling. From the time I learned to read, I’ve dreamed of seeing my words in print. And now that I’ve finished the second book (thank goodness!) and sent it off my editor, I’m poking my head out of my self-imposed exile, to ask you a question—If you write, why do you do it? And if you don’t write, what is your passion, and why do you pursue it?
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29 Responses to Welcome Guest & Debut Author Leigh Duncan!

  1. I understand that rushing deadline thing, Leigh. I have an August 15 deadline and I just woke up the other day to the notion that it's not still February. Eek!Why do I do this writing thing? Stories are my passion…I love how they take me away, both as a reader and writer.

  2. Leigh Duncan says:

    An excellent reason to write, Christie. I'll keep my fingers crossed for your Aug. 15th deadline and send you cyber treats to see you through.

  3. Terry Odell says:

    Hi, Leigh – waving at you from the mountains in Colorado. I'm still so proud to say "Hey, I KNOW her!" And writers write for the same reason they breathe.

  4. Cindy Gerard says:

    Congrats on meeting your deadline and your sales!!Why do I write? Because I can't seem to not write :o) What's up with that??

  5. Leigh Duncan says:

    Terry, Hope you're enjoying Colorado!Cindy, I hear you. It's what we do. I know my hubby says life is much better when I'm writing than when I'm not. Thanks, Terry and Cindy, for dropping by.

  6. Great post, Leigh! Sometimes I wonder *why* I write…probably because (this is going to sound crazy) it's just completely *fun* for me. (Although some books are only fun for about ten minutes a day. Or a week. But, oh, those ten minutes are divine!)Congrats on your success, I'm so proud to be in your village – and you never really dropped off the radar when you met your deadline. xoxo

  7. Leigh Duncan says:

    Roxanne, I know you're facing your own deadlines right now, so having you stop by today is a double blessing. Here's hoping the next few weeks are filled with those completely "fun" moments that make it all worthwhile!

  8. Leanne Banks says:

    Congratulations Leigh! Your book sounds wonderful! I think I enjoy the feeling I have of completing and turning the book in even more than when the book is published. For me, I love the journey of the characters and the story.

  9. Leigh Duncan says:

    Leanne, I can relate to what you're saying. Loved, loved, loved the journey my characters made in "Catch of a Lifetime." It really kept me going on those days when I had to work for every word.

  10. lois greiman says:

    Welcome to the convert, Leigh. When I first began writing I was absolutely obsessed with putting words on paper. But now it's simply part of who I am, what I do.Congrats on your new release.

  11. Hi Leigh. I have to admit…your dedication to your writing is an inspiration to me. You worked so hard for this time. Take a little time and enjoy it!See you in July for RWA IN ORLANDO!!! (psst…I might come early. Your guest room ready?)

  12. Helen Brenna says:

    Hi Leigh – Congrats on your first -and second-book and welcome!!We may share the same editor – Johanna, by chance?

  13. KylieBrant says:

    Welcome Leigh! Congrats on getting those first two books under your belt!My problem is a bit different: I'm the world's worst procrastinator and it's like a little switch won't turn on in my brain until the deadline is imminent. Hence my current meltdown over the book due June 1!

  14. I think that second book is the hardest. Now you know what you can do when you have to!

  15. Congratulations on #2, Leigh! Sometimes that's a hard one to write, maybe even to sell. I write, therefore I am. Really, it's that much a part of who I am. Can't remember a time when telling stories wasn't something I just did, and not always to everyone's enjoyment, I'm sure. Writing them down started early, much to my parents' relief.

  16. Good Luck with your book(s)! How exciting!I write to empty my crazy ole head

  17. Debra Dixon says:

    Leigh– Welcome!I like having written much better than the writing. (g)And I care very much about story and voice, which is why I've hung around this crazy publishing world for so long, in one capacity or another.I like process, discover and writing is rich with that.

  18. Michele Hauf says:

    Welcome, Leigh! I can sympathize with being math challenged when it comes to figuring how many months you have to work on a project. We always seem to figure an extra month where there isn't one.Why do I write? Because I can't not write. Like Lois said, it's just a part of me.

  19. Leigh Duncan says:

    Hey, everybody! Sorry about being out of touch for a couple of hours. I had to rush out to a meeting, but I'm back now and am thrilled to see how many people dropped by while I was gone. Give me a second to catch my breath and heat a cup of water (try getting hot water in a restaurant–I usually resort to ordering "hot tea, hold the tea bag"), and we'll chat.

  20. Leigh Duncan says:

    Thanks for the warm welcome, Lois. I love letting my hair blow in the breeze as we cruise on down the road.

  21. Leigh Duncan says:

    Cyndi, The guest room is all spruced up and ready for you. Just give me enough warning to re-stock the bar, okay? Seriously, though, I have had such a good time the last couple of weeks. The day after I turned in CATCH, I hit the road for the wonderful WRW Retreat where I was honored to sign books with — I still get goose bumps — Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris and Roxanne St. Claire, among others. A couple of days "off" to see my daughter, and it was on to the CT Fiction Fest where Hannah Howell invited me to join her for dinner at IHOP, of all places. You know, the BEST people eat dinner at IHOP (I had to throw that in 'cause Cyndi and I ate there in March — lol.) Since then, I've held 4 book signings from Central FL through So AL, and had met some of the very nicest people. It's been a wild ride, but the best kind of fun.

  22. Leigh Duncan says:

    Helen, it's great to be here! Laura Barth is my editor & I just adore her! I think she edits for Blaze in addition to Harlequin American. Of course, the whole experience of writing for Harlequin has been an amazing thrill.

  23. Leigh Duncan says:

    Kylie, June 1st??? Are you hyperventilating yet? Shall I bring oxygen and brownies to your house? Fortunately for me, they opened a Starbucks just down the street from where I live. The last few months put me on a first-name basis will every barista in the place.

  24. Leigh Duncan says:

    Absolutely, Christie! Though there are still days when it's hard to string words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into scenes, at least now I can tell myself, "Yes, it's hard work. But you've done it before, and it was hard then, too. So, stop sweating, settle down and do it again!"

  25. Leigh Duncan says:

    Kathleen, you mean you wrote down the story about how Aunt Eloise became known as Aunt Mutt instead of sharing it with the entire family over Thanksgiving dinner? What a novel idea! Wish I'd thought of it before I blurted out how Eloise was the youngest in a huge family, and her dad gave each one of them nicknames, but ran out when it came to the 13th girl and just called her "Mutt." Yeah, I probably should have written that one down.

  26. Leigh Duncan says:

    Kathryn, Maybe you share something in common with Stephen King. He used to say his mind was filled with boogie men and things that went bump in the night. By writing about them, he moved them out of his nightmares and onto paper.

  27. Leigh Duncan says:

    Debra, your reasons for writing inspire me to work harder and learn more. It was great seeing you at the Space Coast Writers' Guild this January. Taking a day "off" to sit in on your workshop really helped me re-focus on my work.

  28. Leigh Duncan says:

    Michele, Yeah, time management is not my forte, either. Too right (?) or is it left (?) brained for me. Roxanne told me to mount a huge calendar on the wall over my desk. She said I should put a big red X through all the days I can't write and divide the remaining days by the # of words I need in order to hit the deadline (using a calculator, of course). It would have been better if I'd done that BEFORE writing this last book, but better late than never.

  29. Leigh Duncan says:

    I want to thank everyone, and especially Keri and Christie, for arranging my little trek down the road with Riding with the Top Down. It's been super fun, and I've made a stop at the site as much a part of my morning routine as that first cup of coffee. I'll look forward to taking the occasional excursion with this amazing group!

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