Writer Interviews: Trisha Leigh

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After “meeting” Trisha Leigh on Twitter, I recently had the pleasure of reading a manuscript for her a few weeks ago and it was one of those rare books that leave you thinking about the characters long after you’ve finished the last page.

I’m really looking forward to reading this series of novels that Trisha recently finished. You can pick up her latest here.

And here is Trisha in her own words:

1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule? Now that I’ve self-published, I spend most of my daytime hours (mornings and breaks at the dayjob) trying to keep up with administrative duties such as email, blog posts, marketing, etc and then write in the evenings. I typically get the most work done between 9pm-2am.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block? I definitely don’t have time for writer’s block! My trick is to sit down and tell myself I just have to write a sentence. One sentence. By the time that’s done, I find that I’ve written a paragraph and then a page! It doesn’t work every time but it does work most of the time.

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft? I love Sara Zarr’s blog and podcasts, personally. I’ve also read On Writing and a few of Donald Mass’ books. I’d say find what works for you, and although it’s important to have a good foundation, there’s no one magic book to learn how to do it–and nothing works better than writing and reading and writing and reading. All the time.

4. Who do you read for fun? I read pretty much anything, but the majority is Young Adult. Favorites right now are Jeyn Roberts, Gayle Forman, Courtney Allison Moulton, Sara Zarr, Courtney Summers, Leigh Bardugo, and Veronica Roth. I also LOVE the Game of Thrones books.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it. I’m not one of those kids who started writing stories in the 3rd grade and never stopped. I was always a huge reader, though. It wasn’t until my junior/senior year of high school when I started writing, and then discovered a love of penning screenplays in college. That was really when I knew.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer? Read a ton. Develop a thick skin, because you’ll never improve if you can’t incorporate constructive criticism without falling apart. Recognize that readers are an important part of the process. Keep writing until you’re good enough.

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer? Perseverance and belief in yourself.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink? Chipotle and mojitos. Not together. Necessarily.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie? Wow, super hard question. My favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life (although I ADORED Beasts of the Southern Wild. It might be up there). Books are harder. Top 5? A Separate Peace, Wuthering Heights, The Historian, The Notebook, and A Wrinkle in Time.

10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share? Not really. I enjoy my secrets–everyone should have a few!


Trisha is an author of Young Adult fiction from Kansas City, MO. She’s currently writing/revising/cursing her next novel.

Raised by a family of ex-farmers and/or almost rock stars from Southeastern Iowa, Trisha always loved to tell stories. After graduating from Texas Christian University with a degree in Film, she began to search for a way to release the voices in her head. Trisha wrote a thriller and a couple of ghost stories, getting her feet wet and learning with each discarded manuscript. When she attempted her first YA novel, which would become Whispers in Autumn, she was hooked. Trisha knew then her heart lay with telling stories about and for young adults, and for anyone who loves to read and recapture those fleeting “first” moments.

Her spare time is spent reviewing television and movies, spending time with a large, loud, loving family, reading any book that falls into her hands, and being dragged into the fresh air by her dogs Yoda and Jilly.

Like everyone, Trisha’s had some ups and downs, but life is good. She’s writing. She’s happy.

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David Corbett’s Words of Wisdom on Writing: The Art of Character



When I first heard David Corbett was writing a book on character, I knew that if anyone out there was qualified to teach others this crucial aspect of the writing craft, it would be him. The first Corbett book I read, The Devil’s Redhead, showed me just what a master of character Corbett is. I have rarely read books where my emotions about characters have flip flopped so wildly between love and hate and disgust and sympathy. Corbett has fine-tuned the gift of how to make readers feel a wide range of emotions about his characters. And when you think about it, this is, in essence, what makes a character come to life on the page.

That’s why I am so excited to dig into David’s latest and greatest, book, The Art of Character. (That’s my copy on my nightstand below!) Until you pick up your own copy, here is David talking about making a connection between a character’s outer goal and inner need. Enjoy!

Outer Goal, Inner Need—Managing the Connection

Whatever the hero is trying to achieve in the outer world—rescue the hostage, marry the soul mate, survive the cataclysm, escape prison, return home—the goal and the effort to achieve it speak to some inner need that the character often does not even recognize until the events within the story expose it.

The outer goal represents the specific way of life the protagonist hopes to defend. The inner need represents the reason that way of life is so meaningful to him. This relationship is the machine that creates the protagonist’s growth or transformation.

In the film The Secret in Their Eyes, Benjamin Esposito returns to the attorney general’s office in Buenos Aires where he once worked as an investigator to show his former boss, Irene Menéndez Hastings, the novel he’s written about a murder case they worked on many years before.

The case was unsatisfactorily resolved—just like the romance between Benjamin and Irene. Benjamin, from a lower social class, believed himself unworthy of Irene, and was blind to her interest in him. Irene reads his novel and makes the obvious point: It lacks an ending. The comment is almost a dare, and works on both levels, that of the murder and the romance.

Benjamin’s quest to discover what actually happened so he can finish his book also serves his need to see if there remains any chance with Irene. The three story lines—how the investigation and romance proceeded in the past, how Benjamin tries to wrap up loose ends in the present, and how he hopes to see if he still has a chance with Irene—all reinforce and reflect on one another.

Joe Connelly’s Bringing Out the Dead would be a manic litany of well-crafted, expertly detailed, beautifully written emergency calls—in other words, a reasonably good book—without the crisis eating away at the protagonist’s soul, which turns it into a great one.

Each call echoes Frank’s aching need to forgive himself for the one patient he couldn’t save, a girl named Rose, who literally haunts him, visiting him when he’s alone, appearing in the corner of his eye as he makes one mad dash to the rescue after another.

The climax resolves both his obsessive need to be the hero and his guilt, as he finally codes a patient and lets him die, accepting both his fallibility and the inevitability of death, and at last making peace with Rose.

There are some writers, such as Lee Child, who arch an eyebrow at the “bullet in the heart” hero, one whose deep-seated psychological wound moves him to act. Lee considers the setup contrived, fabricated by writers overly obsessed with meaning. Whether the protagonist is a sniper, a lawyer, or a nurse, more times than not his motivation to achieve any particular end reduces to the simple fact it’s his job. To the extent there’s an inner need, it’s the professional’s desire to do the thing well.

There are indeed times when a writer creates an inner need so hackneyed it actually undermines the story. Then again, as in the two examples I cited above, the difference between an acceptable story and an unforgettable one often depends on the writer’s ability to see the thematic interconnections between the protagonist’s outer and inner journeys, and to weave them together seamlessly.

David Corbett is the author of four novels: The Devil’s Redhead, Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar), and Do They Know I’m Running (Spinetingler Award, Best Novel—Rising Star Category 2011). David’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, with two stories selected for Best American Mystery Stories. In 2012, Mysterious Press/Open Road Media re-issued all four of his novels plus a story collection in ebook format, and in January 2013 Penguin published his textbook on the craft of characterization, The Art of Character (“A writer’s bible that will lead to your character’s soul.” —Elizabeth Brundage). For more, visit www.davidcorbett.com

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Thank you to the lovely Lilliam Rivera for tagging me in this fun game. I’m posting a bit earlier than I was scheduled (Feb. 3rd) as I will be out of town that day and am not technically savvy enough to figure out how to get it posted on that day!

What is the working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

Before I became a mother, I was a police reporter for a Bay Area newspaper. My novel is inspired by all the missing child cases I wrote about during my decade working for newspapers. Specifically, this book was also based on my conversations, letters, and phone calls with a serial killer who kidnapped and killed children.

Out of all the stomach-turning, terrifying things he told me, one thing more than any other still haunts me to this day: That there were many, many more people in the world just like him.

What genre does your book fall under?


What is your book about?

This ran in my literary agency’s newsletter:

Gabriella Giovanni’s big Italian-American family can’t understand why she chooses her adrenaline-pumping career as a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter over being married with little bambinos running around. Gabriella spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares and then walking away unscathed.

That’s because for twenty years Gabriella has avoided confronting her own dark childhood memories: her sister’s kidnapping and murder followed by her father’s sudden death three days later. That changes in an instant when a little girl disappears on the way to the school bus stop, and Gabriella’s quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper who reels her in with tales of his exploits as a longtime serial killer and promises to reveal his secrets to her alone.

Meanwhile, her passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper also killed her sister. When the biggest newspaper in town continues to scoop her on the story, Gabriella begins to believe the fate of her career and the mystery of what happened to her sister both lie in the hands of the kidnapper. When he is sprung from jail on a technicality, Gabriella risks her life to meet with him, hoping to find answers that will help her confront her past and heal her deep psychological wounds.

Award-winning former journalist Kristi Belcamino‘s debut crime novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, is an atmosphere-rich sojourn that has been compared to Sue Grafton and offers chilling, authentic glimpses into the mind of a psychopath while also mining the psyche of an extremely likeable and sympathetic protagonist.

The novel was inspired by Belcamino’s dealings on her crime beat with a serial killer who police and FBI agents linked to the kidnapping and murders of at least two little girls. When the man died in prison two years ago, she was called for a comment. Belcamino’s personal past colors this smart, effective novel that showcases a strong new voice in the market.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, yes, I’ve had so much fun playing around with this idea. I’ve answered this one with photos!

Elisabetta Canalis as Gabriella Giovanni

Colin Farrell as Detective Sean Donovan

Lt. Michael Moretti

Gabriella's mother

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Fourth months. Then I spent a year revising.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I mentioned a little bit about the inspiration in the first question, but I can also add that this novel is dedicated to every daughter who has been brutally and senselessly murdered. I especially wanted to honor the memories of those I have written about. Along with putting their stories in the newspaper, I have written their names on my heart. I will never forget them for as long as I live.

Traci McBride
Christina Williams
Polly Klaas
Xiana Fairchild
Amber Schwartz
Niki Campbell
Chandra Levy
Laci Peterson

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A lot of Gabriella Giovanni’s conversations with the serial killer in my novel are verbatim from my notes with a real serial killer who preyed on kids. You can’t make that shit up. One of those “truth is stranger than fiction” deals.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13th, please visit a few of my writer friends, Sarah Henning, Susan Boyer, Theresa Crater, Neal Karlen, David Pennington, and Kat Asharya, as they write about their Next Big Thing.

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Writer Interviews: LynDee Walker












Yay! Another writer interview with a former reporter! Enjoy!


1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

I left reporting to be a stay-at-home mom, and I have three little ones, two of whom are not yet in school. So I write during naptime in the afternoons, usually from about 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. On a good day, I can do about 3,000 words in that time. I also have a wonderful husband who is super supportive, and when I have a deadline looming, he gives me time to write in the evenings and on weekends.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

I walk. Moving usually helps shake things loose. Figuring out stubborn plot points also requires talking—to myself or anyone nearby—which sometimes gets me funny looks on the trails around the lake where we live.

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

Stephen King’s On Writing. I know it’s probably the most belabored title in this field, but it is a wonderful resource. And it’s not written as a source book, so it’s easy to read and retain.

4. Who do you read for fun?

There are so many authors I adore! I’m a book nerd from way back. Let’s see: Laura Levine, Stephen King, Harley Jane Kozak, Julie Kenner, Lisa Brackmann, Terri L. Austin, Sophie Kinsella, Larissa Reinhart, Agatha Christie, Susan M. Boyer, Meg Cabot, Gretchen Archer … I could go on for pages.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

I’ve wanted to be a writer in some fashion since I was a preschooler. Back then, I wanted to be Lois Lane. Then as I got older, Helen Thomas became my role model. I discovered I loved writing fiction in the summer of 2009, working on the book that would become FRONT PAGE FATALITY. I’d never seriously attempted to write fiction, and really fell hard for Nichelle and her story. I wrote in sort of a fever, because I was unsure where the ideas were coming from (or if they would stop) and by the time I had a finished manuscript, I was hooked and wanted to write more.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Two things: first, write every day. It’s trite, but things become cliches for a reason. The only way to get better is to do it. Second, don’t give up. Develop a thick skin, and learn from constructive criticism, but know that in traditional publishing, rejection is part of the game. To succeed, you have to keep going.

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

Perseverance. Writing a novel is a huge undertaking, and something most people never accomplish. Why? Because it’s hard work! You have to stick with it over a long period of time, through the murky middle of the rough draft, through writer’s block, and days when you just don’t want to do it. Once you’ve done that, you have to hang in there through months or years of trying to find the right home for your work. You can learn craft. You can learn grammar. But I think writers must have the ability to persevere if they want to succeed.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?

My favorite food? That’s almost like asking me to choose a favorite child! I love Mexican food and barbecue (I am from Texas). There’s a restaurant in Dallas called La Hacienda Ranch that makes the most amazing Mexican food. I’ve never been able to figure out what’s in their ground beef, but it’s heavenly. And the tortillas … sigh. Now I’m hungry. Here in Richmond, Buzz and Ned’s has the very best barbecue I’ve ever eaten.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

Yes! They both have the same title, too. I love Gone With the Wind, because it’s full of wonderful women. Even though Scarlett is stupid about men (in my opinion, anyway) she’s so strong and determined, in a time when women weren’t supposed to be strong and determined. Melanie, too, is very strong, but in an entirely different way. So is Ellen O’Hara. And Mammy. I’ve read it probably more than fifty times, and I still find some new story nuance on every trip back to Tara.

10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?

If there’s anything I learned from years of working as a journalist, it’s that everyone has a story. Another important skill writers can develop is to listen. All around you, every day, there are stories going on, and you never know what might inspire you to write something wonderful. And observe. When the sun comes back out after a storm, put words to it. Think about how you’d make a reader see that picture in their mind. Little things go a long way toward developing craft.

My debut mystery, FRONT PAGE FATALITY, released this week! Back cover copy:

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke’s days can flip from macabre to comical with a beep of her police scanner. Then an ordinary accident story turns extraordinary when evidence goes missing, a prosecutor vanishes, and a sexy Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. As Nichelle gets closer to the truth, her story gets more dangerous. Armed with a notebook, a hunch, and her favorite stilettos, Nichelle races to splash these shady dealings across the front page before this deadline becomes her last.

About the author:
LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, she traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. When not writing or reading, LynDee is usually wrangling children, eating barbecue or enchiladas, or trying to walk off said barbecue and enchiladas. She and her family live in Richmond, Virginia.

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The Writing Process

This is a brief and speedily written post based on a conversation with some of my writer friends on Twitter about how I use journals in plotting and outlining my novels. It was just too long to explain on Twitter! : )


In the cute little turquoise notebook, I write and keep loglines for my novel.
I describe it in 10 words, 20 words, 50 words, 100 words.
On other pages, I have notes on the writing process, but also break the journal down into several sections, including the following:

“Character” Here I put notes on characters
“Scenes” Any notes on scenes, but also reminders on what makes great scenes
“To do” For instance, this might say, “add music beats to surfer van scene.”
“Plotting” Ideas for the plot, such as, “Why not make the climatic scene outside the mansion and somewhere more exciting?”
“Research” For instance: Research Tent City in Santa Cruz.
“Revision” This has a lot of notes on revising, such as reminding myself to do a rolling outline, which is essentially a chapter summary after I finish each chapter.

“Voice Journals” These are fun. I talk to my characters and then free write. I like to ask them questions, such as “Why are you even in this story?” “What is your biggest secret?” and so on. Maybe I’m a little out there, but they always answer me. : )
“Themes” I make note of what themes I am developing in my story.

My big black sketch book is where I do my most in-depth character study. This is where I do some of the same things as above, but also can be more creative and do more brainstorming and incorporate tons of visuals. I find pictures of my characters. I list their traits. I list their goals, motivations, and obstacles. I write their backstory. Their quirks and hang ups.
I also sketch my settings or take pictures if I can.

In this black journal, I also look at how my book might mimic the hero’s journey, with the call to adventure, and so on (Christoper Vogel’s Writer’s Journey).

I also outline and dissect similar novels to see just how those authors hit their plot points in their books.

So, most of the work in these books is done before I have really sat down and put much time into my latest novel. After I am deep in writing, I do go back and refresh my memory to some of this stuff later, but really a lot of it is to just see and feel the story in my mind before I put it on paper.

Anyway, hope this helps. It’s just my crazy way of getting what is in my head on the written page.

Character journal


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