Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview with Leanna Ellis


Your newest release: Once in a Blue Moon is a unique story about a stubborn journalist who risks everything to uncover the secret behind her mother's death. I really enjoyed reading it!

Thanks so much, Martha! I’m delighted you enjoyed the story!

Where did the inspiration to write Once in a Blue Moon come from?

I was reading about an obituary writer and thought, “What if…” which is where a lot of my stories come from. About the same time, I was also thinking about those events in our history where you say, “Where were you when…” The two ideas merged and developed from there.

How long did it take you to write it.? Any obstacles during the writing process?

Once in a Blue Moon was written over about nine months, but the idea had been in my head much longer. The biggest obstacle to writing this story was that the three months before I turned the book in my father was in and out of the hospital and was starting to go downhill in his cancer battle.
There were about three weeks when I spent about five hours in the car every day taking the kids to school, then driving to the hospital, picking up the kids, driving home, then back to the hospital, then home again. Long, long days. If you’ve ever sat in a hospital room, then you know it’s never quiet and it’s very difficult to get work done.
But God helped me finish that book and turn it in a week early. Right after that, my father went in the hospital for the last time so I was able to spend that last week with him and the rest of my family.

What steps do you take when beginning a new book?

In a way, I’m a bit like Bryn (my main character in Once in a Blue Moon) as I often jump into the story without knowing too much. But I like discovering things about my characters and letting the story take me where it’s supposed to go. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my instincts more with that. But I also have a lot of experience at this stage of my career since I’ve been writing since 1991.

How supportive has your family been in your writing career? How did they react to the long hours of writing?

I have an incredibly supportive family. My husband is the best! My husband and I met way back in 1994 when I was still an unpublished author and was spending many, many hours a day writing. So he knew from the beginning what to expect.

Would you mind sharing THE CALL with us? You know, that special call every aspiring writers dreams about.

The Call came for me way back in the spring of 1995. I was sitting at my desk where I was a receptionist for a company and an editor called to tell me she wanted to buy my book, Strong, Silent Cowboy. I was of course thrilled and shed a few tears. Then my husband, well, he was my fiancé then, took me to dinner that night.

Any favorite resources for finding story ideas?

I can’t think of any one place I go to for story ideas. They tend to be all around us and my brain just latches onto something and won’t let go. I don’t usually write ideas down. If they’re good they stick around. If they’re not so good, then I forget about them after a while. Ideas sit in my brain usually for a long time before I have time to work on them.

Writers often experience self-doubts regarding their own work. Do you still experience this? If so, how do you overcome it?

Oh, sure. I think writers are often insecure. I give a chapter to my critique buddy and I am nervous to find out if she liked it or not. Then when I turn it into my agent and editor, I chew my nails until I’ve heard if they like it. Then I worry and sweat my way through line edits. I hold my breath while waiting for those first reviews. And then I really am eager to hear what my readers think. I treasure every letter and email and Facebook post. Truly, what readers think is so valuable and important!

What aspect of writing was the most difficult for you? How did you conquer it?

All of writing is difficult at one time or another. I might overcome one aspect but then struggle with a different one. Then for the next book, my struggles might switch. Every book is so different. I don’t usually struggle with writer’s block but I did after my dad passed away. I was under deadline and really needed to get writing after a month or so. But some days I’d only write, “chapter five.” That was it. And I would feel myself start to panic over it but I would just breathe deep and pray. I just needed to give myself time to find the words. And they eventually came.

Could you share any successful marketing ideas that you found helpful?

The thing with marketing is that you never really know what works or what doesn’t. Mix that with you have to figure out what you’re comfortable doing too. One author might feel comfortable meeting all the booksellers in their area. But another author might rather dig ditches than do that. How you feel about a marketing gimmick will impact its success.

Best advice you ever gotten.

Sit down and write. That’s what it takes. Day in and out. You have to put your bottom in the chair and write. No huge platform will get those words on paper for you. On good days and bad, you just simply have to write.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Oops, thought that’s what the last question was, so I guess the answer applies to both questions. No excuses, just write.

Where can we learn more about you?

Lately, I’ve been on a lot of blogs but my home-sweet-home is I have a blog there at

I’m also on Facebook where I most often post, especially on my fan page.

Thank you, Leanna for taking the time to be interviewed. I enjoyed getting to know you better. As always, looking forward to reading more of your work!

Thank you, Martha! It was fun! I so appreciate you taking the time to read Once in a Blue Moon and review it. I hope it will bless your readers too.

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