Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Featured Author: Leslee Breene!



“Hearts on the Wind, a fast-paced romance, aptly captures the tensions of time and place
while also creating endearing characters.”
~ Joan Hinkemeyer, Rocky Mountain News
Grade “A” review – Author Spotlight



Welcome, Leslee! Tell us about your most recent release, HEARTS ON THE WIND.

Thank you for inviting me to share my writing journey with your Armchair fans, Tiffany!

My newest release from Five Star-Gale/Cengage is a Midwestern historical romance. Here’s the front cover flap summary of HEARTS ON THE WIND:

“At a northern Minnesota country wedding in 1876, Swedish farm girl Ingrid Johansson meets Norwegian railroad heir Andreas Eriksen. Her father instantly disapproves of Andreas. He is not only a “Norskie,” but a railroad man. The new railroad is charging farmers too much to ship their crops to the city. To seek her dream of becoming a teacher, Ingrid must find a way to attend a Minneapolis women’s academy, thereby defying her father’s wishes.
In St. Paul, Andreas makes a deathbed promise to his father to help build the financially ailing, fledgling St. Paul & Pacific Railroad.

Ingrid and Andreas’s paths again cross and their attraction grows. But, when his willful stepsister Dagmar returns from an eastern finishing school, a magnetic spark also draws her to Andreas. Soon Dagmar determines that she must possess him; together they will share the power and wealth of the evolving Northern Pacific Railroad, now backed by railroad baron, James J. Hill.

Hearts on the Wind is a dynamic journey into the heartland of historical America, leading the reader through the passions, greed, revenge, and triumph of its characters. Ingrid and Andreas’s odyssey plunges them into the turbulent Great Chicago Rail Strike, each seeking to fulfill their promises and their seemingly impossible future together.”

Have you always written historical romance? If so, why?

All three published books have been set from late 1870s to around 1880. What a fascinating time it was to live in America then. The railroads were working their way West. Rail barons and cowboys, and strong eastern women played important roles in that arena. So many adventures, so many love stories…

Why have I written mostly Western historical novels? All those sexy cowboys! (She winks.) Also, I’m in awe of the magnificent vastness of the place, the heart and the guts it took for those women and men to stake their lives here.

I'm a cowboy lover too! Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I began writing romantic adventure novels after several years of studying and writing short fiction, back in the early nineties. At that time, I was a member of the National Writers Association. Then I joined the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and began attending a critique group and realized how much there was to learn!

After publishing in a few anthologies and sometimes winning short fiction competitions like the international Moonlight & Magnolias and ByLine Magazine competitions, I was inspired to expand my horizons and attempt novel-length fiction.

I was fortunate to interview with author/agent Denise Dietz at the 2005 RMFW Conference in Denver. Denise and I had critiqued together about ten years before, so we had developed a mutual respect for each other’s work. She liked LEADVILLE LADY, the book proposal I had submitted, and sent it on to John Helfers at Five Star. It was a thrill to have LEADVILLE LADY released as a Five Star Expressions (hardcover) in October 2006. My first historical romance, FOXFIRE, was published several years before as a POD.

What are you working on now?

It’s a contemporary, closer to women’s fiction with strong romance elements. More of an internal journey as well as an external journey for my heroine. Of course, this story is a love story, but also a woman’s love for a child. It spans the time and place of Katrina in New Orleans to the Sand Dunes of Colorado.

Tell us about some of the fun you've had interacting with readers.

Actually the members of my Bally’s water aerobics class have provided great fun and support for my work. For several years, my co-ed group has attended all my signings. It’s really a kick to have feedback from the men! One of the guys is a senior “biker” and strolled into Barnes & Noble in his black, fringed leather jacket, bandanna, motorcycle boots, etc. A big, tall dude with his silver hair pulled back in braided ponytail and wearing large yellow-tinted goggles! He was center stage.

I’ve put his photo in my “pic” collection on MySpace. =) BTW, your Armchair readers are invited to join me any time at www.MySpace.com/lesleeauthor and share their comments.

Do you get nervous before book signings?

Sure, it’s a “high” experience. Whenever you have a serendipity setting, anything can happen. I must admit my first solo signing at the Highlands Ranch, Co. Tattered Cover last November was an exciting challenge. But longtime friends attended like Joanne Sundell, fellow Five Star author, and Rob Baldwin, a talented Denver poet and author, and other family and friends, so it went quite well. The event even wound up on YouTube, so that was certainly icing on the cake!

Tell us a little about how you research your books.

I love to go on road trips to various Colorado locales like Leadville, the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the Sand Dunes, Jackson Hole, Wyo., and others. Just “being there” is so fascinating. The history, the real-life characters who lived there, the natural sights, buildings, and old cemeteries provide my muse with wonderful possibilities for future stories.

Any favorite authors or books?

That is a tough question. I’m very eclectic in my reading, so there are many authors of past and present who have influenced me. In the romance genre, Maggie Osborne and LaVyrle Spencer are monumental favorites. Joan Johnston and mainstream (Hallmark) author, Ann Howard Creel, are tops. I’m in awe of Women Writing the West authors Jane Candia Coleman and Jane Kirkpatrick. Helen Keller and Somerset Maugham inspired my earlier years.
Western singer/song writers are recent wellsprings . Jon Chandler, Bill Barwick, and flutist Douglas Blue Feather have all influenced my work.

Just for fun, what is one thing you are never without?

I never leave home without my sunglasses and bottled water. One should always stay hydrated in this dry Colorado climate!

Very smart, Leslee! Thanks so much for joining us today.

Thank you, Tiffany, for this wonderful opportunity to blog…just share my thoughts and writings with your Armchair Heroines visitors!

Leslee is here today to answer questions and comments, so post away!

And be sure to check out Leslee's website in order to enter her latest contest:

http://www.lesleebreene.com/. A hardcover copy of HEARTS ON THE WIND will be given to the contest winner each month, a softcover copy to the runner-up!

Happy Half-Week Day!

20 comments:

Cher Gorman said...

Hi Leslee!

Your new book sounds wonderful. Can't wait to read it. Just wanted to stop by and say hello. Have a fun day blogging.

Now I must go over to your My Space page and check out the "biker" in the leather jacket!

Take care,

Cher

Anonymous said...

Hi, Cher!

Great to see you today. Thanks for joining us!

Tiffany

Anonymous said...

Hi Cher,

Good to hear from you. We've shared some good times at CRW Conferences! Best of luck with your romance publications...and congratulations on finaling in "the Emily!"

Leslee

Helen Hardt said...

Hi Tiffany and Leslee -- Leslee, I have a soft spot for western historicals, and yours sound wonderful. The research is fascinating, too. The women of that time period were so strong, and then, of course, as you said, there are the sexy cowboys ;). Fun interview!

Helen

Joy said...

Hi Leslee,
Your books sounds great. I love romance and the midwest! Going over to your page to check it out!

Anonymous said...

Helen,

Thank you so much for your comments on the historical, romantic West. Of course, Hearts on the Wind is a Midwestern tale, but the emergence of the Northern Pacific RR and the tumultuous setting provided a great backdrop!

All the best,

Leslee

Anonymous said...

Joy,

Always great to meet another historical fiction reader. =)
If you have a minute, stop by www.MySpace.com/lesleeauthor to check out more info. I'm running
an April contest too!

Have a great day!
Leslee

Anonymous said...

Hi Cousin Leslee! thanks for the email. Really enjoyed your earlier books & looking forward to reading your newest one. Love the Midwest influence. Congrats on your success & one day we WILL get out to Colorado to see you!

Much love, Carol Holmer

Anonymous said...

Carol,

How are things in Minnesota? Really fun hearing from you! Yes, a Colorado trip is in order. You have those beautiful lakes and we have the Rockies...mountains and baseball.

Happy spring...and reading!
Leslee

Renee Knowles said...

Hi Leslee,

Your book sounds fabulous. It is on my list! I love cowboys too :) Something just so primal and sexy about them.

Thanks for sharing with everyone at AH today!

Hiya, Tiff, too. Sorry I've been so absent!

Renee
www.reneeknowles.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Renee,

Cowboys make the best heroes, don't they?! My hero, Andreas, in HEARTS isn't a western cowboy...more of a railroad cowboy. =)

Best to you,
Leslee

Tiffany James said...

Helen,

Thanks for stopping by. I just love a cowboy!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Joy,

Thanks for joining us today. I think you're really going to love Hearts on the Wind!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Carol,

How nice of you to stop by! You really have to come to Colorado. Have you been before? Personally, my favorite time of year here is the fall - I love the colors and the crisp air. :0)

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Hiya, Renee!

Great to see you today. Don't worry, I won't punish you for your absence...after all, a new baby is a good excuse! :0)

Tiffany

Heidiwriter said...

Great interview, Leslee and Tiffany. I like cowboys too (and cowgirls, old-time variety of course!)

Heidi, Cowgirl Dreams
www.heidimthomas.com

Anonymous said...

Hey there, Miss Leslee!

I'm ever a day late and a dollar short! I certainly meant to "come blog with you" yesterday but things are still hectic and crazy here in the beach city area.

May I just add for all to know that I'm a fan of your writing and value our friendship, indeed. You always take time for others and try to foster us along with you. I'm so happy for your writing success and hope you "keep `em coming." I proudly own Hearts on the Wind and am enjoying it so much. You get an "A" all the way!

Give Tiffany J. a big hello from me. Love this blog!

Congrats again on your current book and the next one!!!

Love,

Joanne

Anonymous said...

Joanne,

Never too late. =) You're a "best friend" for sure! I'm one of your biggest fans!

Hope we'll do a book signing together soon!

love, ya,
Leslee

Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi,

Thanks for dropping in! We "cowgirls" must stick together.

Happy trails,
Leslee

robynl said...

oh my, I need to read this book. My Mom's parents were Swedish and Norwegian. In fact grandpa came over from Sweden to the US and then to Canada as a young lad. So interesting.