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

Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Cover Reveal for BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE

It’s finally time to share the cover for BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE with you! This cover has been perfection from the very beginning, and I have been dying to share it with everyone! YA Books Central was kind enough to host the reveal, so click on the link following the cover reveal to enter to WIN one of three ARCs of BEYOND.

 

Now, behold!!

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For the giveaway, be sure to visit YA Books Central!

The Order of the Eternal Sun Launch Party

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I can’t believe it’s already time for The Order of the Eternal Sun to be out! It seems like I was just writing it! The official release date is August 23rd, but I’ll be at my favorite local indie bookstore, Fiction Addiction on Saturday, August 13th signing copies. Drop by if you’re in town! Almost as good as the books is the fact that there will be FOOD. :)

More details here: http://live-timely-i09kj6eb.time.ly/event/jessica-leake-launch-party/

Arcana Paperback Cover Reveal!

There are a lot of reasons my experience with my editor and with Skyhorse has been amazing, but one of them has to be that not only was Arcana released as a hardcover last year, but next month, it’ll be released as a paperback…

With a brand new cover!

I’ve known about this new cover for a long time, and I’ve been selfishly keeping it under wraps, but it is GORGEOUS. I know I said that about the first one, but if possible, I think I love this one even more.

I think this one speaks more the historical setting of the book while still maintaining that flare of fantasy…I hope all of you love it as much as I do!

 

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So beautiful, right?? Be sure to check back next month, because I’m sure I’ll be holding a giveaway as soon as I get my author’s copies!

On Self Esteem

Now that I’ve been working as a therapist again part-time, I’ve just been struck by how many people struggle deeply with problems with self esteem–scars they carry since they were very young, voices that once berated them that have turned into their own voice, constantly criticizing them. I work with them on learning to love yourself again, to fight back against that inner critic, but the writer in me wanted to offer a different take on what it’s like to have to fight your own thoughts. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to your own mind, and this vignette is in honor of all those who struggle to beat back that inner critic.

Today just happens to be World Mental Health Day, so I thought it might be fitting to post this. So many struggle with various forms of mental illness but are too afraid to seek help. Low self esteem is often one symptom of a bigger problem, but there’s help! One great place to find more information and get support is through NAMI (National Alliance of the Mentally Ill). They do so much to educate against the stigma of mental illness, and they are an invaluable resource.

You can do it. You can learn to love yourself again.

 

THE MONSTER WITHIN

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You are so ugly.

Stupid.

Unlovable.

Alone.

I try not to listen. I try to keep walking, but I feel this sick need to look. She’s beckoning me—tugging me along as surely as if I have a tether connecting from me to her.

Don’t do this, I tell myself, even as she says, You should take a long look at yourself.

My chest is constricted as tightly as though I tied a belt around my ribs. And still I move inexplicably forward.

I got rid of all the mirrors in my house—even took down the big ones in the bathrooms. But I left this full-length one in my bedroom. It stands sinisterly in one corner.

I move until I am looking directly into it.

I can’t breathe. My chest hurts—am I having a heart attack?

I don’t want to look, but I do anyway.

She’s looking back at me with a sneer. Disgusting, she mouths, and I cringe like a beaten dog. Look at yourself.

And I do.

I see:

Small eyes

Smaller breasts

Fat stomach

Fat thighs

Greasy hair

Big ears

I think: I’ll never eat again.

She scoffs. You’ll fail. You fail at everything.

The image in the glass changes. I still have a big nose and small eyes, but now I’m just a kid. A second grader. Daddy and his friend fill the living room with smoke. I slink by, but they see me.

“That your kid?” the man asks. “She’s uglier than sin.”

I try to make my body smaller as I race toward my room.

Daddy says nothing, but his silence is louder than words.

Still ugly, she says.

The image blurs. My stomach hurts so badly I double over. It’s an old pain; it’s stuck with me longer than my daddy did.

Now I’m older. Still a little girl, but in fourth grade now. Mama looms over me like a bird of prey.

“You’re such a little idiot.” She looks down at my wet pajamas, her mouth twisted in disgust.

“I had a bad dream,” I whisper.

“No wonder your daddy left us.”

The girl in the mirror bites her lip to keep from crying, and I swallow my own tears.

Just walk away, I tell myself. You don’t have to think about this.

My feet don’t move an inch.

You’re unlovable, she says. That’s why your daddy left. That’s why they all leave.

The image changes again. I’m older now. Sixteen. I’m on my first boyfriend’s couch, and he’s on top of me. I keep trying to pull my hooded sweatshirt down to hide my stomach, but his hand snakes under it anyway.

His hand is light on my stomach, skimming toward my chest. “I don’t know why you try to hide under all those clothes. You’re beautiful.”

It wasn’t enough. He left me, too.

All alone, she says. You’ll always be alone.

The image blurs and it’s me again. On the floor now, tears wet in my greasy hair.

You are so ugly when you cry, she says.

You’re too stupid to have a good job.

You’re too unlovable to have any friends.

You’ll die alone.

I am ugly when I cry.

I am too stupid to have a good job.

I’m too unlovable to have any friends.

There is a demon that lurks in my mind. She sounds like my daddy, my mama, magazines that tell me my body type is all wrong, but most of all, she sounds like

Me.

I choke on black sadness. I crumble beneath the words the monster whispers.

no

No

NO

I remember, also:

The second grader whispering to herself that night: I am beautiful.

The fourth grader clutching her report card of straight A’s.

The sixteen-year-old thinking for just one moment she was beautiful.

I pick myself up. I go into the kitchen and pull open the junk drawer. I grip the hammer in my clenched fist.

She stares back at me from the mirror. Daring me.

The hammer shatters the glass in great shards down upon my feet. The cuts sting, and I welcome the pain.

Behind the broken glass is another mirror. I stand in front of it with hammer brandished, but I stop when I see her.

I see:

An eye for others who are hurting

A woman who has made it her career to help others

A woman who can cook just about anything

Legs that are strong

Hair the color of ink

Someone who truly listens

I may be beaten, but I am not broken. I am resilient. I will take back my life.

I am not stupid.

I am loved.

I am not alone.

I am beautiful.

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 Week Seven

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How I did on last week’s goals:

As I’ve seen happen to many others participating in RSW, my goals had to change when I got comments back from my CP! This is on THE ORDER OF THE ETERNAL SUN–the second book in my Arcana series that I already turned into my editor. Luckily, I still have plenty of time to make edits on it, so I just turned in a draft to make deadline, and now I can take my time polishing it :).

I met my other goals by putting aside GONE WITH THE WIND briefly to read THE DARKEST MINDS–I missed that series somehow when it first came out, and now I’m obsessed. So, I’ll probably be reading book 2 of that series this week.

My goal(s) for this week:

1. Edit 5 chapters of ORDER OF THE ETERNAL SUN

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 my CP highlighted while reading THE ORDER OF THE ETERNAL SUN as ones she liked–it’s a bit of sibling banter between the main character (Lucy Sinclair) and her older brother (Robert Sinclair):

I glance away. “Surely you don’t want to hear about all that. Tell me of officer’s training at Cambridge.”

“Shooting practice, marching, rigorous physical exercise. There. Your turn.”

“I believe this dance is about to end,” I say. I stare at the symphony and will them to cease playing.

 

The biggest challenge I faced this week:

Switching gears from one MS to another, but this is nothing new!

Something I love about my WiP:

With ORDER OF THE ETERNAL SUN, I loved being able to return to the same world as ARCANA, only with a focus on Lucy (the younger sister) instead. Lucy is caring and kind and completely obsessed with art and fashion, so it’s been fun being in her head.

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.