Jessica Leake
Jessica Leake / Writer of romantic historical fantasy
Author of ARCANA, a romantic historical fantasy novel to be released November 4, 2014 by Skyhorse/Talos Publishing

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Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 Week 6

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How I did on last week’s goals:

My husband was on vacation for a week, so our days were filled with doing fun stuff with the kids, and our nights were filled with either going out to eat or catching up on shows. I’m one of those moms who always forgets to take pics, so I have very little to show for our adventures–luckily, we usually had a grandparent or two around and they more than make up for my lack of photodocumenting :).

I’m still reading GONE WITH THE WIND daily, but I’ve made very little headway even though I enjoy it–only about 25%! Any recommendations for a short, fun read to go along with it–something I can actually finish in a day or two? :)

My goal(s) for this week:

1. Continue working/plotting my WIP

2. Read another book

3. Help the kids with reading

4. Exercise at least 3 days

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revise:

In light of how horribly hot and muggy it’s been lately, I love how the MC reacts when she realizes just how hard it’ll be being in the year 1862:

Her words take a minute to really register in my mind, but when they do, I come to the sudden and terrible realization that there’s no running water here. I can’t just go into the bathroom and turn on a faucet for a shower or a bath—they don’t even have toilets.

This realization hits me even harder than the lack of AC, and my breaths start to come faster and faster. I can’t stay here. I can’t. Already, the room feels like a sauna—muggy and thick—and this is in late spring. God help me if I can’t get out of here by summer.

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

With my husband on vacation, I basically gave myself a free pass as far as goals–no regrets in this regard though!

Something I love about my WiP:

I love how potentially relevant it is with the turmoil that’s going on in the South right now about the Confederate flag and anything to do with the Confederacy. But for the same reason, that’s what makes this WIP such a challenge!

Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Week Five

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How I did on last week’s goals:

Mostly accomplished! I plotted and researched for my WIP, helped the kids with reading, and exercised 4 days instead of 3. The only thing I didn’t complete is to read another book, but that’s because I’m reading GONE WITH THE WIND, which I somehow have Gone_with_the_Wind_covernever read–only seen the movie a bunch of times, of course–and it’s SUPER LONG (but I’m enjoying it–as cringe-worthy as some of the language and scenes are).

My goal(s) for this week:

1. Continue working/plotting my WIP

2. Read another book

3. Help the kids with reading

4. Exercise at least 3 days

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revise:

These are a few lines from when the MC is trying to come up with some explanation for her rescuer as to why she’s on his plantation…in the year 1862 instead of 2015.

  My house burned down and everyone is dead! No, that won’t work—what if he wants to see the house?

I’m just passing through on my way to visit family in Virginia. Right, and I just happen to be traveling alone, on foot.

I was led by a ghost into a secret tunnel and ended up in the year 1862. Sweet baby Jesus.

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

The problem everyone faces, and most definitely everyone who has 3 children: finding time!

Something I love about my WiP:

I’m in the honeymoon phase with it at the moment–so everything! (This will change as soon as I start working on it heavily–and then I’ll hate it and think it’s horrible before swinging back to loving it again 😉

Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Week 4

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How I did on last week’s goals:

I haven’t made a ton of progress on my WIP, but I’ve decided not to push myself too hard since I’m still technically on break after meeting deadline for THE ORDER OF THE ETERNAL SUN and completing another book while I wrote ORDER.

I finished P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU and loved it–maybe not as much as the first one, but I just find Lara Jean’s voice so addictive. I also finished reading THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, and I can see why everyone is raving about it–I love the setting and lush descriptions, but for a while, the dialogue was driving me nuts–particularly between Shazi and her handmaiden. It didn’t feel very authentic, particularly because I doubt a Thebian slave would speak to her calipha that way upon first meeting, but the story is just so beautiful and rich and full of conflict that it didn’t bothered me enough to stop reading.

The kids have been spending a lot of time reading, and I more than met my exercise goals–so yay for staying on track there!

My goal(s) for this week:

1. Continue working/plotting my WIP

2. Read another book

3. Help the kids with reading

4. Exercise at least 3 days

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revise:

I like these lines from the end of the chapter where the MC realizes she’s traveled back to the middle of the Civil War.

I don’t need to ask him what year it is.
I already know.

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Being okay with taking a little hiatus from writing! I’m almost ready to get back into it, but my mind still needs a little vacation–I need time to “refill the creative well” I think.

Something I love about my WiP:

The fact that I can do all the research for it in my own state–can’t wait to take some field trips to nearby plantations! Why didn’t I think of this before?? Pretty sure it’d be a tax write-off ;).

Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Week Three

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How I did on last week’s goals:

Much better this week! All that rest after meeting my deadline did me some good, and I went back to my WIP with the words flowing easily again.

I haven’t finished a book since I was in the middle of reading PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG when I finally got my hands on P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU, and then I basically dropped everything to start reading it–I’m finding it just as addictive as the first one!

As for helping the kids with reading, my agent was awesome enough to send a care package with a bunch of amazing books, and the kids (even the 15-mo-old) have been reading them like crazy!

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My goal(s) for this week:

1. Write another chapter on my WIP

2. Read another book

3. Help the kids with reading

4. Exercise at least 3 days

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revise:

I like these lines because it’s when the reader realizes the story isn’t just about a Southern girl with an overbearing mama.

I lean around the horse to get a better look, and a man dressed as a Confederate soldier steps into the light. My first thought is that it’s just one of the men from the reenactment, but then I really take in his features. His face is haggard and gray, his body gaunt and skeletal. The fine hairs on my arms stand up, and a chill washes over me as though someone suddenly put a wet washcloth on the back of my neck.

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Making myself write–now that I’m not under a deadline and daily word count quota isn’t a necessity, I’ve been slacking.

Something I love about my WiP:

The challenge. The Civil War is not something I really wanted to write about, but this idea just refused to leave my head.

Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Week 2

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How I did on last week’s goals:

So this was the busy week I was talking about: two birthdays, Father’s Day, and our anniversary. But on top of all that, my sweet 2 1/2 year old girl fell off the arm of our couch on to the hardwood floor and FRACTURED her collarbone! :(! She is so tough, though. She was hurting, but still smiling and taking selfies at the doctor’s office:

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And she even played at her big brother’s birthday party:

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But then she was pitiful when she got home :(:

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But at least the birthday boy and their little brother had a great time:

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy!

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As for my goals–I did manage to work on my next chapter, I didn’t finish another book, but I am reading one: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. It’s so good I can’t put it down, and I’m so relieved it’s lived up to the hype around it! I was really looking forward to this one, and it’s been amazing so far.

I squeezed in some exercising even though it is BLAZING HOT OUTSIDE–high 90s and disgustingly humid.

I finished beta reading for my friend, and it was another book I couldn’t put down–I can’t wait until it comes out!

My goal(s) for this week:

1. Write another chapter on my WIP

2. Read another book

3. Help the kids with reading

4. Exercise at least 3 days

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revise:

I like this line because it actually made my husband laugh out loud–which is always a confidence-booster ;).

His beard looks just like you’d imagine a beard of someone who regularly participates in Confederate battle reenactments to look.

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Family fun and my poor baby breaking her collarbone!

Something I love about my WiP:

The characters–they all have really strong voices, and they’re a lot of fun to write.

Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Week 1

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How I did on last week’s goals:

Not bad considering June is the busiest month for me (two birthdays, Father’s Day, and our anniversary–all within days of each other). I finished two books (DUPLICITY by N.K. Traver–yay for agency sisters! and THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER by Sarah Dessen) and met my exercise goals, but I totally slacked off as far as writing–but wait! I have a good excuse! I actually just finished drafting THE ORDER OF THE ETERNAL SUN after working on it every single day for months, so I needed to take a break or my brain would explode.

My goal(s) for this week:

1. Write another chapter on my WIP

2. Read another book

3. Finish beta reading for a friend

4. Exercise at least 3 days

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revise:

I love the opening line of my new YA set in the South–the MC’s mother is a Confederate-flag-waving die-hard Southerner, and she has a nasty attitude hidden beneath her sweet Southern belle facade.

“Why’d you have to invite those damn Yankees?” Mama asks for the hundredth time. She bats away a lazy fly that’s been slowly moving closer to her face.

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Laziness! I need to get back into a daily writing routine.

Something I love about my WiP:

It’s set in the South–I’ve always resisted writing a book set here, but this story just wormed its way into my head and wouldn’t let go.

Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Goals

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I’m so excited to be participating in Ready. Set. Write! again this year–I found it so helpful last year to stay on track with my writing and publishing goals, and I hope it’ll be equally as helpful this year. I’m late with the goal-setting post (it was supposed to go up yesterday), but better late than never!

Summer Goals:

1. Write at least 50k of my Southern story

2. Read a book a week

3. Exercise 3x week

4. Complete any edits my editor may require

 

If you haven’t heard of RSW yet, it’s a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, our RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman.

Giveaway for Valentine’s Day: Books to Fall in Love With

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I’ve teamed up with some truly amazing authors for an enormous giveaway! Visit each of our websites from February 9th-February 14th for your chance to win FABULOUS books and prizes. I’ll be giving away three separate copies of Arcana: a signed hardcopy, an ebook copy, and an audiobook copy. I’ll also be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card just for fun and in appreciation for all my readers.

Here are the clickable links for all the participating authors: Margo Kelly, Amber Hart, Eliza Gordon, Lauren Sabel, Sharon FisherVanessa Barneveld

Happy Valentine’s Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Next Book in the Arcana Series!

I’ve been ridiculously happy and excited to have so many people who read Arcana ask me if there will be a sequel, and I’m pleased to announce that there WILL be! The next book, THE ORDER OF THE ETERNAL SUN, will focus on Lucy, Katherine’s sister. It’s due out Spring 2016, which is a bit of a wait, I know, but bear with me! :)

 

Here’s the official Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:

 

 

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Arcana Cover Design

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I’ve had so many compliments and interest on the cover of Arcana. It was a surprisingly hands-on process for me, which is pretty unusual in the publishing world. Most authors don’t get to give much input in the cover, but Skyhorse and my lovely editor, Nicole Frail, asked me for my ideas for the cover from the very beginning.

The cover was created by Rain Saukas, who’s just genius at bringing a few vague ideas together into a beautiful design. When I was first asked by Nicole to tell her what I’d always pictured for the cover of Arcana, I actually drew a blank! Part of it was still being in shock that this was about to be a REAL book, but also because writers are a superstitious lot. During the long journey of writing, scoring a fabulous agent, and landing a book deal, it seemed to be tempting fate to picture what my book would look like the moment I finally got to hold it in my hands.

There again, though, Nicole helped me through it. She had me pick out covers I liked, and after digging through my bookshelves, I sent her one of my favorites:

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I’ve always loved the ethereal quality to it, and Nicole suggested we recreate something like it by merging the picture of a girl over a photo of London or a forest scene or some other magical element. Here was her idea for an ethereal forest scene:

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Since sunlight is such an important element in the book, we decided to focus on that for the cover design. It didn’t take long before the designers sent me their finished product:

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Not what you were expecting, right? Well, that’s because after seeing this version (although it’s beautiful, too), I asked if the girl on the front could more closely match my idea for Katherine (who has blonde hair). I also asked if some of the title fonts could be tweaked, and if the “A Novel” could be moved underneath “Arcana”. My kind editor rolled with my crazy nitpicks, though, and asked me to comb through some of the stock photo sites to find an image more in line with how I imagined my main character. The best I could do was find this image:

 

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And somehow, Rain magically brought it all together:

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And that, my friends, is how a cover is made*.

 

*At Skyhorse. With Nicole Frail as your editor. And Rain as your cover designer. And the author being obsessive and nitpicky.