Author Chat! Hidden Away Somewhere in Texas' Author Connie Lewis Leonard
Hello, Connie, thank you for visiting the blog. We’re excited to chat with you today!
Where can your readers purchase your novels?
All of my books can be purchased through Amazon by searching for my name; Connie Lewis Leonard
As a romantic suspense writer, what are some movies and/or books that inspire your curiosity?
Sibella Giorello is absolutely my favorite contemporary author. Her descriptions, sensory imagery, and characterizations inspire me. I have read all of her Raleigh Harmon books, which are mystery/suspense with romantic elements, including the FBI. I also love Robin Patchen’s suspense writing. She’s a talented Indie author. I have read most of Christy Barritt’s mystery and suspense novels. She’s a best-selling author who generously sells most of her Kindle books for $.99. James Scott Bell is a great suspense writer, and so is DiAnn Mills, who was my mentor in the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers' Guild. Nancy Drew and then Mary Higgins Clark introduced me to mystery/suspense.
I also like historicals and westerns. I have read most of Elmer Kelton and Louis L’Amour. I also read all of Belva Plain’s books before she passed away. I have to mention my friends Lena Nelson Dooley and Patricia PACJAC Carroll for their historicals. Anne of Green Gables and Little Women are two of my all-time favorite books.
This series is set in Texas, what would you like to tell you readers about living there? Is there something special you like to do in Texas?
I grew up in New Mexico, but have lived in Texas for the past forty-one years. Since my husband retired from full-time ministry, we attend a cowboy church. The idea for the first book in this series, Somebody Somewhere in Texas, popped into my head while sitting in Triple Cross Cowboy Church. I thought it would be a fun little book to write, and it was. I never intended to write a series, but the characters kept calling to me to tell their stories. Hidden Away Somewhere in Texas is the fourth novel. Each book involves a cowboy church. So, I’d have to say being a part of a cowboy church and its ministry is my favorite part of living in Texas. I enjoy rodeos, barbeques, dominoes, country music, western clothes, and church dances, which were not allowed in our other church. I love the friendly, hard-working, down-home people. I love being close to my kids and grandkids.
When you write, do you enjoy a mug of coffee or tea? What are some of your routines you do when you write?
Sometimes I listen to music to help create the mood, but other times I enjoy the silence. I always read devotions and pray before I write. Sometimes I drink hot tea, other times flavored coffee with a bit of cocoa in it. When it’s hot I enjoy ice water with fresh mint from my garden.
I’m basically a pantser. I start with an idea, characters, and a title. I develop the characters as I go. I start with Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Synopsis. As I write, I expand the synopsis, adding new characters, names, places, events and research—everything I need to keep me straight. I edit heavily as I write. I belong to a couple of critique groups. I read the manuscript aloud to my husband, making edits and changes as I go. Then I have beta readers read and edit it before I publish.
If you could give a piece of advice to a fledgling writer, what would it be?
Read, read, read! Write, write, write! Study the craft. Pray.
While pursuing traditional publishing, I kept getting rejections that said, “This is good, but. . . .” Usually the “but” had more to do with the market than the story or the writing. I was even told that my writing was “too Christian for the Christian market,” which is moving more into a Christian World view, sometimes with no mention of God. Upon completing the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers’ Guild Craftsman Class, Doc Hensley said, “Don’t hide your talent under a bushel.” Shortly thereafter, while attending a country music concert, God spoke to my heart. None of the performers were rich or famous, but they enjoyed using their talents, and the audience enjoyed their performance. I made the decision then to self-publish my contemporary novel, Big C, little c. I’m not rich or famous, but I enjoy writing. I’ve had positive feedback on my writing, and I even have some faithful fans! My best advice to aspiring writers is Read, Study, Write. Pray about it every step of the way. Stay true to what God called you to do. That may require Indie publishing rather than bending to whims of the market.
What novel are you currently reading?
That changes every week. I just finished reading Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey. It is a western/action/adventure/romance with lots of “purple prose” descriptions.
What’s on the writing horizon for you? What can we look forward to seeing novel-wise?
There will definitely be one more “In Texas” novel continuing Haeley and Reed’s story with Ryanne as the heroine. There could be one with Haeley’s brother Brayden or one with Noah as the hero. I’m praying about it.
Where to find Connie's novel?
Connie Lewis Leonard is an accomplished novelist and active journalist.
She writes Christian fiction and nonfiction. Her latest Christian romance, Hidden Away Somewhere in Texas, came out in July 2021. Play Me back Home in Texas, was released on Amazon in 2019. Other books by Connie include Light up My Life in Texas, released in 2018; Somebody Somewhere in Texas, released in 2016; A Psalm a Day, released in 2015; and Big C, little c, released in 2014.
As a journalist, she regularly writes inspiring personal interest stories about people who make a positive difference in the world. Her articles can be found in regional magazines published by GreenFox, Hometown Living Publications and RedFinn Publications.
A retired public school teacher, Connie shared her passion for writing with her students, encouraging many young writers to pursue their writing interests. She has a Master of Arts in English and Education from Midwestern State University and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Angelo State University.
Connie lives in Granbury with her husband and three rescue dogs. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.
Where to connect with Connie
Facebook: Connie Lewis Leonard, author
You may sign up for her newsletter by sending Connie an email at email@example.com.